A formal assessment strategy uses quantifiable data to determine employee success or failure. An informal assessment strategy uses more loosely defined performance indicators to gauge performance. Formal assessment provides easily understandable data but does not factor in employee creativity. Informal assessment allows for more in-depth thinking and idea development but can lack a structured means of ranking performance.
Assessment Through Testing
The standardized testing model is a formal strategy for assessing performance. This provides a business with quantifiable data to help determine the knowledge base of employees. Standardized testing in the workplace or job market may take the form of product knowledge questionnaires, quizzes on company procedure and licensing tests for business-related certifications. Employers and licensing boards are able to decide on an acceptable passing score for these tests and determine how many candidates or employees meet or exceed this mark and how many fail to achieve the required score. This allows for a reliable method of assessment in that employers can easily determine competency by examining the data.
A structured interview is a formal assessment strategy used by employers across the country to determine the viability of candidates for hire. In a structured interview, an employer or hiring manager asks candidates a series of predetermined questions. An employer or hiring manager gauges the candidates' performance on how quickly candidates respond to these questions, employ quick-thinking skills and choose language. An employer may also have a set of behaviors or responses noted as "red flags." These responses or behaviors essentially cause candidates to fail the interview if used in response to an interview question. This strategy only works if an employer or hiring manager asks the same questions to each candidate. Otherwise, the data are unreliable.
Work Brainstorming Sessions
Brainstorming sessions provide a means for an employer to gauge employee creativity and industry knowledge without the constraints of a formal testing procedure. This method of assessment also allows employees to illustrate skills and talents that may not show through a standardized test. It's important for an employer to not openly criticize ideas during brainstorming sessions. Doing so may discourage employees from voicing opinions. An employer may internally assess the strengths and weaknesses of ideas, though the employer must remain consistent throughout the process. Favoring one employee's ideas over another's defeats the purpose of evaluation because it creates an imbalanced playing field.
Employee Goals and Objectives
Assessing an employee's performance through goals and objectives provides a structured yet informal method of determining employee success. The process also allows an employee to set her own goals and objectives within a given time frame. This provides the employee a sense of ownership in the assessment process. To assess progress and performance, all an employer must do is look at whether or not the employee met her goals and objectives. An employer can also use this assessment strategy to gauge employee drive. For example, an employee who sets easily attainable goals may not be as valuable as an employee who sets lofty goals and works hard to achieve them.
Jonathan Lister has been a writer and content marketer since 2003. His latest book publication, "Bullet, a Demos City Novel" is forthcoming from J Taylor Publishing in June 2014. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Shippensburg University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing and poetics from Naropa University.