Performance Evaluations As A Training Needs Assessment

Steven Cesare, Ph.D.

A business owner from Missouri called me the other day to discuss his company’s annual performance evaluation process. In preparation for employee reviews, the owner had completed impressive due diligence: the job descriptions were current, the content of the performance evaluation form was linked to the content on the job description, the career ladder was in place, compensation scales were up to date, the managers conducting the reviews had been trained, and thanks to the owner’s prescient ongoing communication regarding business goals, pay for performance accountability, and employee development, the organizational culture was receptive to this next step forward in the company’s growth cycle.

As our conversation was seemingly approaching closure, the owner spoke proudly about the imminent completion of this phase of the human resources program at his company. At that point in time, I informed him that this phase was merely the premise for the next part of the human resources program.

In specific, I told the owner that the performance ratings given to his employees actually serve as the company’s training needs assessment for the upcoming year. Surprised to the point of cerebral rigor mortis, here is the scenario I posed to the owner.

First, I suggested the owner put together an Excel spreadsheet with multiple worksheets (one for Maintenance Foremen, another for Enhancements Foreman, another for Irrigators, and so on). Each worksheet would have a common format: employee names (e.g., all eight Maintenance Foremen) in the rows and the individual performance rating dimensions (e.g., Results Orientation, Horticulture Skills, Equipment Operation, Safety, Job Quality, Interpersonal Skills, Customer Service) found on the performance evaluation form, located in the columns.

Upon completing the final Maintenance Foreman performance evaluation rating process, all the individual dimension ratings from each Maintenance Foreman’s performance evaluation form would be transcribed onto the worksheet.

Once all the Maintenance Foremen ratings were input into the worksheet, the owner was instructed to calculate the average score for each column (i.e., each performance rating dimension) to determine the dimension performance levels for all his Maintenance Foreman as a group.

For the sake of example, let’s assume the performance evaluation form contained a 5-point rating scale with “3” representing “Meets Expectations.” With that stated context, perhaps the average performance ratings were: Results Orientation 2.5, Horticulture Skills 3.2, Equipment Operation 3.5, Safety 3.72, Job Quality 2.4, Interpersonal Skills 3.18, and Customer Service 2.80.

Thus, based on actual performance evaluations given by the Maintenance Manager for each Maintenance Foreman, where do you think training resources should be targeted during the upcoming budget year?

So much for the hard questions.

It appears Maintenance Foremen, as a group, need additional training on Results Orientation, Job Quality, and Customer Service. A tangential observation could be made for more Safety training since it only received an average score of 3.72 out of 5. Is 3.72 out of 5, safe enough for you?

Naturally, the owner should isolate specific training needs for demonstrably low dimension scores for particular employees. While at the same time, the owner should conceptually roll up the data in a meaningful way to see if there are uniform training needs for the Field as a whole (e.g., Job Quality, Safety) or for the entire organization (e.g., Customer Service).

If you have any questions or comments about this topic or anything else related to human resources, simply call me at (760) 685-3800.

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Steve Cesare Ph.D.

has more than 25 years of Human Resources experience. Prior to joining The Harvest Group, Steve worked with Bemus Landscape, Jack in the Box, the County of San Diego, Citicorp, and NASA. Steve earned his Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University, and has authored 68 human resources journal articles. As a member of The Harvest Group, Steve’s areas of expertise include: staffing, legal compliance, wage and hour issues, training, and employee safety.  Read Steve's full bio.