Animesh Pathak's Crazy Ideas

Monday, January 10, 2005

First Idea Online!! a Novel method of Employee Evaluation

Hi all,
Here goes.. and I got this during the CS599 lecture today. I was thinking of what may actually be taking place at google... if you have seen this earlier, please post a link to it as comment.

Suppose that a manager has some (say 10) employees who are all capable of doing similar stuff (e.g. software engineers writing code). (S)he calls all of them and gives them a problem. Then each person in the team is asked to "bid" on the amount of time they will take to complete that job (definition of "completeness" pre-ascertained). The 5 (or some other number) people who claim to be the fastest are assigned that job. When they do it, they are awarded points which can be positive or negative depending on how timely and good their work was.

The method is very similar to a card game called "french bridge" I played as a kid where you were given a set of cards each and had to bid how many hands you will make. Accurate bidders are given +ve points and over- or under-bidders are penalized.

I believe this can be used for employee evaluation someplace, if not used already.

Any takers?
Please comment on this.. I am waiting for feedback.

Animesh

9 Comments:

  • Dear Animesh,

    When the Nobel Prize is being bestowed on you in December 2035 (give or take a few years), I might be an old, absent-minded, tennis-playing retiree, but to me will go the credit of penning the first comment to your first (of many, I am sure) Online ideas!

    BTW, I did not want to post anonymously, but I do not have an account as a blogger and this seemed the only option. No need to scroll to the end of the message - this is your co-alum from IT-BHU - Pramod Joshi, who you met twice in the last fortnight. Since I saw your blog inviting me on the yahoo messenger buddy list, I hopped over, and then saw your novel idea about employee evaluations.

    The idea has some merit, and even in the process of particpating in it, the employees reveal some of their traits that are evaluated in organizations - risk-taking, self-awareness, estimation and planning ability, resource management, etc. With some tweaking, one should be able to tailor this idea for actual use.

    On the flip side, if the problem being solved involves only the person being evaluated, this method will not be able to judge abilities like teamwork, leadership, interpersonal skills, etc. If the problem scope is small, the canvas afforded to the successful bidders would not be enough to assess them fully, if it is large, it will mean a lot of investment on the part of the evaluating organization. I believe that if done with small problems and in teams, this method can be employed to evaluate a team (and team member's) potential for performance. The evaluation of performance on the ground, where several intangibles affect performance, may still need to be done in more traditional ways.

    At least that is what I think. It will be fun seeing what others have to say. Best of Luck with future ideas!

    Pramod Joshi
    NOIDA, India
    Jan 11, 2005

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:42 PM  

  • Seriously speaking Animesh, though the idea has its merits in being a method to be efficient in solving the problem of appraisals but then again, as management books keep telling us, there is a huge difference between being efficient and being effective.

    I am sure that you realise that to be effective, you have to be cost and resource effective apart from assuring the efficiency of the basic process employed. Do you seriously think that an organisation in the business of doing business, so to say, will have time and resources enough to 'waste' their person hours in such an exercise.

    In hindsight, even if a company decides to take live projects for such an exercise, can it afford to be redundant (with five people working on re-inventing the same wheel) and can it take the risk with a project that it has fought so hard to obtain?

    If you do take care of the overall factors and factoring in the risk and other such returns on investment, I am sure that the idea has potential and can be developed to suit at least some sectors, if not the entire population.

    Best of luck anyways

    Nitai

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:15 AM  

  • Was just browsing the net and came across your blog. Saw your recent article “ new ideas” well liked the idea. Nice one. Good keep it up.

    It’s more like a carrot and stick approach.(In marketing terms)

    When the employees perform…give them carrot: means incentives/awards/bonus
    When they don’t…give them stick: penalty/punishment/no incentives.
    (They equate the employee to a donkey J ;) anyways…)

    Your approach of employee evaluation is on the same lines. But dear friend, first of all its not applicable in all the industries/ Sectors.

    Since you have taken software industry as an example…So I wud like to tell u that a project can not be delivered until all the members perform there part intime(JIT). You cannot just evaluate an employee on his technical skills. There are various other factors, which play an important role in evaluation. The other factors can be understood by a simple example:

    Situation. (Purely from Software industry)

    You are a Project Manager (8yrs of exp)…you have 2 Team Leaders (5 yrs of exp) working under you.
    Team Leader A
    Team Leader B

    Qualities of Team Leader A: Excellent programming skills, below average communication skills, average Leadership qualities.

    Qualities of Team Leader B: Good Programming skills, excellent communication skills, excellent leadership qualities.

    Now as per the clients request you have to send one team leader onsite. Which one will you send?

    Do you think meeting target is the only evaluation criteria???

    The game French Bridge…is a game…Professional life is very different then a game. In this world of cutthroat competition a person should be an all rounder.

    Earlier people used to believe in Hardwork,
    Then time came for Shortcuts,
    Now its time for Smartwork.

    Cheers!!!

    P.S- waiting for problem/Idea #2

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:46 AM  

  • Thanks for your comments Pramod, Nitai and Unnamed Commentor (I wish you wrote your name/location). They were indeed insightful and force me to think more. Well, here's take 2:

    How about the following Changes -
    - If manpower cannot be "wasted", we can just give it to the highest bidder, who is then evaluated on how fast/slow he does it.
    - We can afford to have duplication of work in research like activities involving data gathering in novel ways. In fact, this idea came to me when I was thinking of how the task of making a map of the internet was done by google. In tasks like these, you may actually appreciate a slight duplication of labor as it may give interesting perspectives :-).
    - As far as the drawback of evaluating only one trait is concerned, that can be solved by this method being one of several methods in which employees are evaluated. The weights of various traits evaluated by these various methods can be figured out on a case by case basis. (That's when the psychologists come in)

    Finally, I would like to stress that the novelity of the idea lies in the "bidding" process. Other details can be worked out on a case by case basis. Please let me know if you have come across any other employee evaluation schemes involving bidding.

    Once again, thanks a lot for reading.
    Animesh

    By Blogger Animesh, at 8:44 AM  

  • This is actually being used by GE Capital. I led a software project for them (yeah, an *outsourced* project) which did exactly this. It would allow GE Capital employees to define their accomplishments/targets planned for the next review period. This would then get approved/rejected by their manager and after any revisions necessary, it would be frozen. Then at the end of the review period, the employees would be evaluated against the targets they had set (with some refinements from their managers of course). But surprisingly, it hasn't caught on as much as one would think.
    -- srinimax

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:28 PM  

  • Hi Animesh,
    crazy idea!!
    :)

    Anyways, here's what I feel about it.

    The problem with bidding is overbidding.

    Remember what happened to indian agriculture when the british started the bidding system in the zamindari.The system failed because the british did not check on overbidding. They wanted to maximise profits(like the zamindars...) and so let the zamindars quote unachievable targets, and the zamindars in a bid to meet these, wrought untold miseries onto the farmers.

    Even in the S/W industry, the sales team, to achieve their sales targets bid aggressively,and the development team is left to fend for themselves.

    Therefore, your scheme may not be successful, until it checks against overbidding.

    best regards,
    mihir.

    By Blogger Mihir, at 11:52 PM  

  • The usual process followed in companies (i found the same where I worked for a year), was exactly the same as a previous comment carried with it... i.e. the employees are asked to write the goals and targets for the evaluation period(typically 1 yr.) and after some minor revisions with the help of manager it is freezed and at the end of the year a comparison is made with the targets sets and those accomplished. Here the key is giving weights 1st to how ambitious the set targets were and the final weights to the accomplished target and a combination of them gives the overall grades. Your crazy idea was really crazy (;-)) in the sense that typically in an organization most of the individuals have different responsibilities and you cant ask them to bid for the same work which can be a part of a commercial project. If some work is created only for the purpose of evaluating the employees than in that case a clever crab would use use his best skills to do it in the best possible way and than take rest for the whole year ;-).

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:31 AM  

  • Hi Animesh!

    This is Deepak. A link in your mail took me to your IDEA page.

    I guess you might have read all the comments. Most of them were not in support of your novel idea. It is good that you dare to think in terms of a new concept in an area you have no experience. People who have rejected your idea are mainly from the industry and have a respectable experience. They already know that employees don’t bid for the tasks instead the Managers have to bid (in terms of compensation) to keep the attrition rate low. It is a tough time for the employers to keep the employees happy especially in Software Industry. As soon as the appraisals are over, if the bid from the Management in terms of compensation and appreciation does not meet the employee’s expectations, attrition shoots up. In a similar situation were the availability of labor is high. Say in a construction business where very cheap labor is available to the employers. The worker class has to bid a minimum to win the work. This was true for the year 2002-2003 in Software Industry also.

    To conclude I would say it is more of a demand and supply principle from economics which makes a situation good enough for an idea like Bidding. Where parameters like quality, effectiveness, consistency, budget, satisfaction, capability, maturity come into play; Bidding goes out the window.

    Mail me at dzbhushan@kanbay.com

    Cheers!
    Deepak.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:08 AM  

  • Well, apart from all the issues discussed in previous comments, i would like to add one mor factor, resources.

    Say, if an individual does have to ability to complete the task in less time, perfectly, but what if
    all the resources or information is not available, or takes a couple of days to finish? even if the individual is capable of doing the task in one hour, now the overall performance will be the couple of days!!!

    Hence the evaluation discussed does not really reflect the performance of the individual. They are subject to various factors. Hmm...

    By Anonymous Sunmit, at 12:45 AM  

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