August 20, 2007

Idea: Give the boss a grade

In business, there comes a time in the fiscal year where the boss calls his or her employees into the office for a performance evaluation. But the only direction the evaluation flows in the workplace is from top down. Nobody asks the employees how the boss is doing. Sure, the boss has to be evaluated, too, but the view of his or her performance is only seen from above.

I think businesses should implement Boss Evaluations, similar to the Teacher Evaluations that students get to do in school. I’m sure we’ve all had similar thoughts when it came time for our own evaluations, so I know it’s not a revolutionary idea. But maybe it’s an idea that needs to rise out of the wishful thinking of the low rungs on the ladder and actually be implemented.

Of course a manager’s performance can be measured quantitatively (are sales up? is profit up?) just as test scores can be measured to judge a teacher’s success. But human relations are an important factor in a business’s bottom line, as well. When employees are happy, they stick around. While high turnover is acceptable in some industries, time and money spent training new staff may be better spent elsewhere. It benefits a company to have dedicated employees who aren’t constantly seeking a better position. It has been said that people don’t quit their jobs – they quit their bosses.

It may turn out that a division within a company is successful despite a boss that nobody likes. That is important to know, too. Employees with bad bosses may still be working hard, but they may also be more likely to steal office supplies, trade secrets, or other property.

Sure, there’s always going to be the brown-noser who gives a positive evaluation no matter what. And the employee with a grudge may give a negative evaluation to a boss who’s actually pretty good. Statisticians are better equipped than I am to suggest ways to account for that (is it as simple as throwing out the highest and lowest scores?). But a progressive company bold enough to ask the employees how the boss is doing may find itself with valuable information for running their company more effectively.

Note to my former boss at the last company I worked for: You didn’t inspire this article. Don’t worry.


Ricardo Semler talks a little bit about how his company, Semco, does this in his great book Maverick:

“Before people are hired or promoted to leadership positions, they are interviewed and approved by all who will be working for them. And every six months managers are evaluated by those who work under the. The results are posted for all to see. Does this mean workers can fire their bosses? I guess it does, since anyone who consistently gets bad grades usually leaves Semco, one way or another.”

When companies want to track opinions with potentially bad (biased/skewed) data, they often use rolling/moving averages. I think that would be a good way to approach boss reviews. That way their score represents the average over the last 30 or 90 days or whatever. It also gives them a buffer against negative feedback of they’re doing well, and gives them adequate time to improve their score if they are not.

Dude…this has been implemented for years. An example of a company that practices this is Dell.

This may have been around for a while, but it hasn’t been widely adopted. My company hasn’t adopted it, and I would dearly love to provide that kind of evaluation feedback. Sadly, my employer is just not that interested.

I know my former university (OU) did this at the end of every class: the prof would leave the room, a student would pass out booklets and a sheet of paper for comments, and we’d anonymously grade our professors before we got graded but after the final curriculum. I thought it was a great idea, and I’m eager to see if my new uni, Portland State, does it also.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a phenomenal idea—demand anonymity and promote well-thought-out, in-depth critiques. May not happen—most students I knew were paranoid about the prof reading their reviews, even though it’s only for admin to see, and would sanitize their answers.

There is a company that provides such service; allow employees to post grades on their employers. debuted the service in Nov 2007.

The software is packaged on LeafsOfTalent’s career networking website and allow users to grade their place of employment by selecting rating scores of 1 - 5 from 10 performance categories.

After the final ratings are generated then the score translates into a final letter grade of A, B, C, D or a BIG FAT F.

Each final grade score is accompanied by a smiley judge ranging from Greenleaf the most modest judge to Redleaf the most harshest of judges.

This website in the hands of the world’s working classes offer citizens a unique service approach to grading their employers; anonymously and on a secured platform.

An interactive global map provide viewers with the number of live entries recorded as they occur in each geographical location.

This is a cool concept and we are waiting on employees to get involved by grading their employers.

Please feel free to help in spreading the word…