When done correctly and effectively, employee performance reviews and good performance management processes can motivate staff, drive results, align the entire company, and improve success and morale. However, inconsistent performance reviews that are confusing, subjective, and open to bias can throw a wrench into the entire thing – making the review process a negative and de-motivating exercise and leaving the company with untrustworthy data to use for decision-making. 

Performance calibration is a process where tools that collect quantitative metrics are set up and analyzed effectively to portray accurate performance data across the enterprise. In most companies, this quantitative data is collected using performance reviews. Performance calibration helps employees by providing consistent, clear, and realistic performance expectations and effective, unbiased feedback and scores across all groups. Performance calibration also allows companies to feel assured they can trust the performance data collected and lean on it to make decisions regarding the performance health of their talent.  

In this blog post, we will discuss the steps involved in calibrating employee performance reviews effectively so you can augment what you might already be doing and ensure you have consistency in your reviews. 

Step #1 of Calibration: Establishing a Baseline & Threshold for Performance & Expectations

The first step in calibrating employee performance is to establish a baseline of performance. This can be done by setting expectations for what you want employees to achieve and then measuring their actual performance against these goals. It is important to note that this process should not be rushed, as it will take time for your company and leaders to set clear and actionable goals and for employees to adapt to the new standards. 

Once you have a baseline of performance, the next step is to establish thresholds. Thresholds are the minimum acceptable levels of performance that must be met for employees to continue working at your company or for teams and the organization to operate successfully. Establishing thresholds can be difficult, as they may vary depending on the role or position within the company. However, it is important to have a clear understanding of what is expected from each employee to maintain productivity and avoid confusion. 

Step #2 of Calibration: Create a Plan for Monitoring Results

After you have set goals and established thresholds, the next step is to create a plan for collecting and monitoring performance results. This plan should include the steps that will be taken to ensure employees are meeting their goals and staying within the acceptable threshold levels. The plan should also outline how often employee performance will be reviewed and assessed and who will be responsible for conducting these reviews. Finally, a large portion of this plan is to establish and agree to acceptable forms of measurement or rating scales that will allow you to monitor the status of goals and performance without being de-motivating to staff. See also, rating scale guidebook

After the plan is set, regular touchpoints should be conducted to ensure employees are aware of how they are performing and for employees and evaluators to adjust any goals or thresholds as needed. It is important to note that employee performance management should not be a one-time event, but rather an ongoing process. By regularly measuring and calibrating employee performance, you can ensure that everyone in the company is working towards the same goal and meeting the same standards.

Step #3 of Calibration: Continuous Improvement

Once you have calibrated employee performance, it is important to continue to improve and refine the process. This can be done by setting new goals, establishing higher thresholds, or creating different plans for monitoring employee results. The goal is to make sure that employees are constantly challenged and striving to reach their fullest potential. 

Frequently Used Tools for Calibrating Employee Performance Reviews

There are a variety of tools that can be used to calibrate employee performance. The most common tool is the performance appraisal, which is a review of an employee’s job performance and typically takes place annually, with smaller checkpoints happening regularly throughout the year. Performance reviews should be crafted with content and tools to help avoid common appraisal biases that may result in performance reviews producing inaccurate results. It is useful for the company to decide on set goals, skills, or other performance criteria that will be used as a measure of performance, and invest in ensuring they are specific to each role, and defined clearly for employees.

While the most common tool for calibrating employee performance is the performance appraisal, it is important to note that this process should not be limited to this one method. There are a variety of tools that can be used to ensure all aspects of performance and output are being considered. 

360-degree assessments and peer feedback are also great tools for calibrating employee performance. With this type of multi-faceted input, employees receive additional feedback from peers, managers, and team members. This helps to get a more holistic view of employee performance and can help identify areas in which they need improvement. 

Finally, the nine-box is a tool that is often used to calibrate employee performance. This tool is used to assess employee potential relative to the company or a group and can help identify high-performing employees as well as those who may need additional development.

Through calibration, you can ensure that your employees are meeting the standards of your company and helping to achieve its goals and are also motivated to perform within realistic thresholds. By taking the time to establish a baseline, set thresholds, and create a plan for monitoring results, you can make sure that employee performance is accurately calibrated and everyone in the company is working towards the same goal. 

What are you using for appraisals and performance management? Paper? Spreadsheets? Fax? A tediously formatted document that employees and managers don’t want to use? A makeshift in-house system designed by your IT department as an attempt to solve your appraisal nightmares? Nothing at all? Any of these answers wouldn’t surprise us.

Our close contact with HR professionals gives us access to plenty of horror stories. And too many of these stories are about outdated (pre-emPerform!) management strategies for appraisals and overall performance documents.

We admit we’ve seen some pretty crafty solutions, including meticulously formatted spreadsheet forms with umpteen versions floating around and some very ‘attractive’ and buggy intranet-based IT web forms. Over and over again, we see a focus on executing the process and very little time and focus left over for strategic performance management tasks and analysis. So what are some key indicators that it’s time to ditch your current processes and modernize?

21 Signs you Need emPerform: Read More

Top 10If you are a manager or HR specialist who has been hammering away at the same annual employee evaluation process year after year but don’t seem to be getting measurable results, you might be doing any of three things wrong. First, you may be using a method that doesn’t suit your business model. Second, you may be using a software platform that doesn’t suit your goals, or finally, you may be making some of the following appraisal mistakes. emPerform is counting down the top 10 appraisal mistakes: Read More

Low performersAnnual performance review time is right around the corner for many companies, and for most managers and employees, the process will be smooth, positive, and largely ceremonial. But in every department, managers face a few performance reviews that keep them awake at night with dread. Low-performing employees tend to induce a series of mild headaches throughout the year, but at review time, they really put their supervisor’s managerial skills to the test. Here’s a list of ways to get over the hurdles and navigate the challenges presented by struggling employees. Read More

Difficult Conversations With New HiresYou and your fellow managers are excited about your new hire. You managed to scoop her up just as she became available, frustrating countless competitors. And while you made the most generous offer you could afford, you were still relieved when she accepted. She won over her coworkers on her first day, and by the end of the week she was already attracting the attention of upper management.

But at this point, a few months have gone by and things have changed. Review time is just around the corner and it looks like you’ll have to prepare for a difficult conversation. While she’s clearly brilliant, the new employee doesn’t seem very motivated to impress you. She shows up late, is often distracted, and sometimes doesn’t contribute much during meetings.

What will this mean for her review? How can you use the review session to start getting more out of this potentially valuable asset? Here are few things to take into consideration when planning a difficult conversation with a new hire.


Reviewing a Talented But Unhappy Employee

1. Ask her directly if she’s having any specific problems. If she accepted the salary offer in haste and is now repenting at leisure, find out. If she’s not getting the resources and support she needs, you should know. Make sure your questions sound supportive, not accusatory.

2. Tell her exactly how you feel about her performance, but be diplomatic. And be clear about what you expected when you took her on. She should know that you’re still looking for way to make the relationship work.

3. At the same time, make it clear that her productivity will need to change. And start keeping meticulous records on all of her performance metrics, since these records may be required in the event of a dispute. Talent management software suites, like emPerform, can help you track performance across a wide range of metrics and time frames.

You’re an experienced manager with ten direct reports. Two are talented stars, four are doing well enough, and three could use a nudge in the right direction but are generally on track. Unfortunately, the last one on your list is not doing quite so well. He’s young and ambitious, and he cares about the job, but he’s struggling. And he isn’t just struggling across one or two of your performance metrics, but all of them.

You’ve lost more sleep over this employee and spent more hours editing his review than you have with any of the others. You’ve gone over all the facts in your mind a thousand times. You want to make sure you’re being fair. And you want to do what’s best for the company, the employee, and the members of his team. So how can you turn a host of mistakes and disasters into a host of positives? And how can you press the reset button on this troubled employer-employee relationship?

A Bad Review: The Aftermath

1. Know exactly where you want to be by the time the review session ends. Set clear goals for yourself. If your goal is to have the employee recognize the gravity of the situation and understand his proximity to termination, act accordingly. But if your goal is to find any possible way to keep him on board and retain the valuable skills for which he was hired, let that guide your process.

2. Know what you’ll do the day, week, and Read More


Spring has officially arrived, and as the days get longer, our gardens spill over with flowers, and our upper management offices and HR departments turn lightly to thoughts of growth.

Growth! Productivity! This is the season for a renewed focus on skill development and personal enrichment. Plus the promise of all that these things bring, including swelling revenue streams, new ideas, and burgeoning bottom lines. To make the most of the season and its effect on your employees, it might be time to turn your HR focus to competency development. Great employees are always interested in learning new things and expanding their skill sets, and there’s no better time than the present to provide the resources employees need to increase their value to the company. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind as you move forward.

Employee Core Competencies as an HR Tool

Competency-based assessments are not a new innovation or trend but an overall good practice to adopt. Employee competency assessments have been around long enough to have withstood the test of time and have proven to be a very useful tool for the HR professional’s toolbox. Employee competencies are a list of skills and behaviors that are specific and well defined and are used to layout an organization’s performance expectations for a job or the organization’s culture as a Read More

resolutionsThree important technology trends left their mark on the world of human resource management in 2011, and all three are poised to gather even more strength during 2012. Each trend brings a corresponding set of recommendations for managers and HR professionals in almost every field. If you keep only three New Year’s resolutions this year, these should probably have a place on your list.

Trend #1: The rise of offsite data management and software as a service (SaaS) provision for HR

Call it cloud computing, offsite enterprise resource planning, application service provision, or whatever you like. But no matter the terminology you use, HR data management and software applications are moving offsite. For a flat, manageable fee, most software service providers can help companies manage their data and systems with high processing capacity and low risk. This year, if you haven’t conducted a thorough review of your software capabilities and found a way to access vital software and applications using the cloud (an offsite service provider), it’s time to start. Make sure your applications are up to date, and find a provider that can take care of your infrastructure so you don’t have to.

Trend #2: Social media is real, and it’s here to stay

Experts are beginning to agree: Social media is actually a thing. It’s not just for kids, and it’s taking on a powerful, if not vital, role in staffing and hiring efforts across a wide range of industries. If you’re still conducting your recruitment process without any attention to social media, it’s time for a change. This does not mean screening potential candidates by looking at their Facebook pages. It does mean using Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to gain a wide and targeted audience for job postings and bolster your company’s workplace brand.

Trend #3: Strong HR efforts are founded on strong data

More than ever, HR efforts are driven by reliable data. Effective human resource management will always acknowledge an unquantifiable element of human nature, but most HR managers now know that strong data means better planning, better control, and higher productivity. The right software applications and data gathering tools, like CRG emPerform, can help you get ahead and stay ahead when it comes to staffing, evaluations, and policy development.

handshakeCRG emPerform recently announced that myStaffingPro, a full featured SaaS applicant tracking system, has joined the CRG emPerform Partner Network. The alliance will leverage CRG emPerform’s easy-to-use and automated talent management software and myStaffingPro’s best-in-class recruiting technology. Working together, we will be able to provide a complete end-to-end recruiting and talent management platform to enable businesses to effectively attract, recruit, align, reward, and retain top talent.

We asked myStaffingPro’s Director of Marketing, Julia Friemering, to give us a bit of background information:


my staffing pro

What is myStaffingPro?

myStaffingPro is a full featured SaaS applicant tracking system.

What services do you provide?

myStaffingPro provides a portal for candidates to apply online while providing customers with a robust user interface to recruit, qualify, track, and hire the best applicants.

The tools in myStaffingPro allow you to:

  • Expand your recruiting reach
  • Prequalify your applicant pool
  • Access applicant data anytime and anyplace
  • Monitor your hiring process
  • Reduce your time to fill.  (Customers of myStaffingPro have boasted a 40% reduction in their time to fill.)
  • Analyze your hiring process and recruiting initiatives

What/Who is your sweet spot?

Our sweet spot consists of mid-market companies, although we provide applicant tracking technology for companies of all sizes. myStaffingPro is the applicant tracking system of choice for more than 500 companies nationwide and 43,000 users.   Our customer base spans from well-known Fortune 500 names to those with as few as 50 employees.

Why should businesses use myStaffingPro?

myStaffingPro differentiates itself by:

  • Delivering a high touch job seeker experience.  At myStaffingPro, we understand that the candidate’s experience is just as important as the users.  We pride ourselves on providing candidates with a streamlined branded experience that is easy to complete.
  • Driving best-in-class recruiting functionality with search engine optimization (SEO), social networking tools, free job board postings, RSS feed, and a mobile enabled application.
  • Providing free applicant and customer technical support.  Customers of myStaffingPro know that they will receive continuous, timely, and informative support.

How can they learn more?

To learn more, please visit https://mystaffingpro.com, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, and our blog.

emPerform welcomes myStaffingPro to our partner network! To learn more about this exciting partnership, please contact us at [email protected]