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Balancing Individual and Team Measures

Balancing Individual and Team Measures

Organizations moving to a team structure need to develop human resources systems–including performance management programs–that support their teaming efforts. One such group within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)–the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri–is piloting a new performance management program that strikes a balance between appraising individual and team performance.

Program Objectives

The Center designed its pilot performance management program to accomplish specific objectives, which are to:

  • communicate and clarify NARA customer service objectives;
  • identify individual and team accountability for meeting customer service objectives;
  • identify and address individual and team developmental needs;
  • use appropriate, balanced measures for recognizing and rewarding individual and team accomplishments; and
  • assess and improve individual, team, and organizational performance.

Individual Performance

The Center's program requires that each team member's performance plan include one critical element to measure the individual's contribution to the team. This element is appraised at two levels–Met (or Fully Successful) or Did Not Meet (or Unacceptable). The standard for this element reflects the results of work as well as behaviors and attitudes important in a team setting. To be rated Met on the element, the manager, the coach, and the other team members must find that the employee usually:

  • affects in a positive way the team's performance goals by completing his or her fair share of the work;
  • complies with the team's ground rules;
  • assists other team members in completing cases, as necessary and/or as requested;
  • learns and shares new skills and knowledge;
  • fills in where and when needed; and
  • contributes ideas for improving the team's performance.

A 360-degree assessment process gathers performance data from the manager, the coach, and each team member, with the manager making the final determination whether the team member Met or Did Not Meet the standard. Team members who perform far above the Met level on this element can be recommended for an individual recognition award.

Team Performance.

Team members' performance plans also include three noncritical elements that measure the team's performance. These three elements are:

  • Reference Service Effectiveness. The standards set desired levels for customer satisfaction, case turnaround time, and the cost per case.
  • Quality Assurance Plan. The standards require the team to develop a plan for how it will improve/maintain its accuracy rate.
  • Effective Team Work. The standards measure the team's ability to build consensus, resolve conflicts, solve problems, cooperate, lead itself, and make recommendations for its developmental needs.

These elements are appraised at three levels–Exceeds, Successful, or Unacceptable. If the team meets the Exceeds standard for each of its non-critical elements, each team member will be given a rating of record of Exceeds, as long as the team member is rated as Met on the critical element for individual contribution to the team. (An employee rated Did Not Meet on the critical element receives an Unacceptable rating of record and is given an opportunity to improve.)

A team goal-sharing program is based on these three noncritical elements. If the team meets the Exceeds level for each of these elements, team members will receive a team incentive payout. No payout is made if the goals are not met.

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