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15Five’s Talent Matrix Helps HR Leaders Make Fair and Objective Talent Decisions at Scale

Courtney Bigony
Courtney Bigony

HR leaders and managers need a clear understanding of their high and low performers in order to improve team performance and make fair and objective talent decisions. And though many leaders rely on traditional performance ratings, accurate measures of performance are notoriously challenging and research shows that traditional performance ratings are highly biased, which leads to biased compensation and rewards decisions. 

While ratings are an efficient way to assess performance and distribute dollars in an organization, we must ask ourselves: do they actually help identify top performers, improve team performance, and motivate? Are they truly effective and fair?

15Five’s Talent Matrix is a flexible performance framework that enables HR leaders and managers at companies of any size to better understand their talent. HR leaders can now easily identify top and at-risk performers and make more fair and objective talent-based decisions at scale. 

Key benefits include:

• A more objective assessment of performance over time
• The ability to easily identify high and low performers
• Visibility into the distribution of performances across the company, department, or group
• Useful insights for making fair rewards and compensation decisions 

The importance of fairness

When it comes to an effective performance review process, fairness reigns supreme. However, according to Gallup, only 29% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and 26% strongly agree they are accurate. Reviews are perceived as fair when they are consistent, accurate, unbiased, and open to the employee’s voice and input.

Research shows traditional assessments of performance (e.g., forced rankings and ratings) are highly biased. Biased annual performance ratings result in inaccurate compensation decisions, which are unfair and naturally demotivate employees. Compensation and performance data based on a single rating is a highly flawed system that many companies recognize but struggle to find an alternative solution for.

Instead of ditching ratings altogether, which can have an adverse effect by creating more uncertainty, we transformed them. Our solution is a performance snapshot called The Private Manager Assessment that, used alongside 15Five’s Talent Matrix, helps HR teams and managers easily identify high and low performers at scale through a more fair and objective assessment of performance. 

A research-based approach to assessing performance

The Private Manager Assessment includes five future-focused questions inspired by research from Deloitte and highlighted in the Harvard Business Review article, Reinventing Performance Management. These questions help reduce bias and can help managers more objectively assess performance and promotion readiness over time.  

Humans are naturally biased and poor at developing accurate and objective assessments of performance. Most assessments of performance, especially in the form of ratings, reveal more about the rater than the actual performance of the person being rated – this is known as idiosyncratic rater bias. Although managers rate other people’s skills inconsistently, they’re highly consistent when rating their own feelings and intentions. To reduce the idiosyncratic rater bias, the Deloitte-inspired questions ask managers what they would do with each team member rather than what they think of that individual. 

While simple, these questions are incredibly powerful. “The best reinvention that I’ve seen is Deloitte’s recent effort to cut 2 million hours down to 4 simple questions,” explains top organizational psychologist Adam Grant. Grant suggests grounding these questions in “As many objective measures of both behaviors and results as possible. For salespeople, measure calls and revenues; for engineers, quality, quantity, and creative output; for managers, team results and employee retention and promotion.”

With The Private Manager Assessment, managers are able to ground their answers in as many objective measures of behaviors and results as possible to ensure a more objective and fair assessment of performance over time. 

15Five’s Talent Matrix: A powerful alternative to ratings

Used alongside the Private Manager Assessment, 15Five’s new Talent Matrix visualization feature helps HR teams easily identify high and low performers at scale without relying on unfair or biased ratings. HR leaders can view the distribution of performances across the company, department, or group and easily display and report the results to C-level members. 

Using 15Five’s approach, companies can more accurately assess performance over time, fairly pay employees, and also keep continual growth and development front and center.

More about 15Five
15Five is a leading people and performance platform that instantly upgrades each and every manager. Combining employee engagement, continuous performance management, and manager effectiveness software with education, services, and community, 15Five provides a holistic solution to create highly engaged and high-performing organizations.

Courtney Bigony

Courtney Bigony is the Director of People Science at 15Five, industry-leading people management software, where she developed Positive Product Design which aligns the product to the latest science of thriving. Courtney has a Masters of Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, is the founder of The Deep Feedback Movement, and a Fellow at the Center for Evidence Based Management. She was named a 2019 Workforce Game Changer by Workforce Magazine and has contributed pieces featured in Forbes and Huffington Post. Follow her on twitter @CourtneyBigony.

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