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Fair, Square and on the Level

Five Tips for Using Calibration to Uncover the Truth of Your Company’s Talent

One of the chief complaints heard from employees working in a pay-for-performance culture centers on questions of fairness: “I’ll never receive the pay increase I deserve because my manager rates tougher than others.”

Sound familiar?

If only Human Resources had an Automatic Calibration Analyzer 3000. Tweak some knobs, flip some switches, and performance could be automatically measured and rewarded across the entire organization. Despite technology advances, such a concept is still a thing of futuristic talent-management fiction.

HR is responsible for creating compensation strategies that are fair in the minds of business leaders and employees. Including calibration as part of your performance assessment process ensures that similar effort and success receive similar rewards. Follow these tips to effectively calibrate your organization.

1. Calibrate across units. Managers should come prepared for the calibration meeting with preliminary ratings and merit recommendations for each of their direct reports and be prepared to defend, or adjust, their decisions against the scrutiny of their peers.

2. Use a facilitator. An unbiased facilitator, such as an HR professional experienced in calibration techniques, keeps the discussions of performance objective, balanced and constructive to the overall process.

3. Dig deep. Insight gained from calibration should extend further than stamping a performance rating on each employee. Take this opportunity to discuss leadership readiness, developmental needs, and explore potential talent gaps or retention concerns.

4. Make it known. Don’t shroud the calibration process in secrecy; keeping the process a mystery only adds to a perception of unfairness or distrust. Make employees aware of the calibration process; yet assure them that any discussions regarding individual performance will remain confidential.

5. Own the results. Since the intent of the calibration discussion is to ensure a level playing field of performance assessment across the organization, adjustments to managers’ initial ratings or merit-pay recommendations may result. Establish ground rules early on asking that managers take full responsibility for communicating appropriately with their employees.

Forget fancy futuristic gizmos; instead, use proven performance calibration techniques to uncover the truth about your organization’s talent.