Formal work performance assessment is a way for businesses to evaluate their employees on a regular basis. Whether performed every six months or annually, the assessment outlines exactly what your team is doing right (strengths) and what could be improved by evaluating their weaknesses. The assessment encourages positive performance and boosts the company’s productivity.
As an agile organization, Thales Digital Factory runs under a flat hierarchy model. As a consequence, a traditional assessment ran by a manager is not applicable.
Furthermore, we think that accomplishments and results are not reached by only one member of the team but by all of them together. That is the reason why the Thales Digital Factory’s Human Resources team decided to implement the self-assessment: every team is assessed according to the company’s OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and each team’s KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). While designing the model, managers define what are the criterion that will be assessed and discuss with the team about what will be that criteron’s content. Criterion are then validated by the HR team.
Anne-Sophie, Process and Culture Specialist, explains how self-assessment is performed at the Factory.
Why did you implement the self-assessment at Thales Digital Factory?
The reason we implemented the self-assessment is simple. First, we wanted to assess the performance level of each team based on the the Thales Digital Factory’s “excellence criteria” and their maturity. We also think it allows teams to take time to reach success, identify difficulties and team strengths and capitalize on them. That step leads to define improvement areas and to define later on an action plan towards team efficiency over several months. It is also a way to spread good practices across the organization by sharing the results of each team publicly; therefore if a team is struggling about one criteria, they can contact another team doing a good job with this criteria. This system also makes peers (members of other teams) the assessors of other teams.
Could you explain us the process of self-assessment and how it works?
The team assessment happens twice a year. Each team assessment covers a period of 6 months. The team assessment relies on 9 criterions divided into 3 domains: “Team Strengths,” “Quality of Delivery” and “Customers Satisfaction.” There are 2 matrices: one for the engineering teams and another one for non-engineering teams (RH, purchasing, finance, IT, communication…).
The team assessment is performed as following:
1. Each team runs a self-assessment based on a matrix of about 9 criterion.
2. Each team explains to 3 assessors, which are peers ( members of other teams but not a managers) their self-assessment report about each criteria and compares it with data-proven objectives.
3. The 3 assessors deliberate about each criteria and take a final data-based decision.
4. The “model keeper” (people mastering and exemplary about the process) reviews the peers’ decision to avoid any bias, ensures that the same level of expectations is applied across the teams.
5. HR and the manager announce the results to each team.
It is a continuously evolving process as we adjust the criteria if required, after each assessment cycle. It is a collaborative work between employees and managers.
From a HR point of view, what are the challenges you have faced when implementing this methodology?
The main challenges of such a methodology are to ensure this exercise brings value to employees and that criterion are meaningful for all teams whatever their product and ways of working are. It is also really important for us to make sure this exercise if fair and is pointing out the rights things (failure, success, strengths and improvement areas of each team) to contribute to the team improvement.
Now let’s speak to Margot Beaumard, UX Designer at Thales Digital Factory, about how self-assessment are perceived within her team:
We know that these new ways of evaluation are different from other companies, how did your team manage the self-assessment?
The last session wasn’t the first one for all of us, some already performed the self-assessment multiple times. But for our new members, we needed some explanation about the format, criterion and how to handle self-assessment. It is a new way to assess work performance and also specific to our work here at Thales Digital Factory. The Human Resources team organized briefing sessions for new people and we thought it was very helpful. We ran several meetings browsing the matrix all together to understand criterion and gathering data in order to justify our position in the matrix. We also decided who would take the mic during the presentation. It was a real teamwork.
What challenges did you and your team face?
The biggest challenge we faced was actually aligning our project and the matrix. Understanding why we are low on the matrix even if the decision was project-oriented or on the contrary why we were high even was a challenge as well. Finding the justification also helped us understand what the history of the project was and how we handled the development, it led us to take a step back.
What is your personal feeling about self-assessment? How does it impact productivity?
In my opinion, it helps a team to work together and also to take a step back and understand the team strengths and weaknesses. In the next project, you will work as a team to not make the same mistakes. It brings solidarity and a mantra of being better together.
I recommend the self-assessment method because it reflects perfectly the reality of the work done. When you are part of a mission or a project, you are never alone and the project gathers multiple persons working on it. By measuring individuals, you don’t create a strong solidarity link like self-assessment does. If you know you’ll be measured as a team, you will also handle actions towards mutual benefits. Taking actions for the project but also for the team.
Amélie Ravier, Head of Communications has been able to assist Human Resources in assessing a team as a peer, here is what she thought of it:
As a peer during the self-assessment, it was interesting to see the team's dynamic: nobody takes credit for one success and on the other hand, the team as a whole is willing to take responsibility for the weaknesses due to a junior team member or a simple mistake. I felt empathy and gratefulness for the team as I saw how aware the members were of each other’s work, and I learned a lot from their processes for my own team.