Stoplight 360

I recently saw a fast and easy way to rate your employees that makes the high performers and low performers stand out in a way that can’t be ignored.

It uses Stop light Methodology: a red-yellow-green marking system. The advantage of Stoplighting is that everyone gets it. It is ingrained into our way of thinking (or at least the thinking of everyone in America who drives- which is close enough.) It’s the proverbial “no assembly required” scoring system.

I saw this used in a topgrading process. A client who owns a professional firm was trying to determine which employees were most likely to advance, and which were least likely to make it in the company. Although the managers were charged with reviewing and critiquing performance; he knew that the managers didn’t see every aspect of the employee’s work.

So he wanted to do a 360 feedback. For those who may not know, a 360 asks everyone to review an employee. It is given to his/her superiors, peers and subordinates.Done right, it can be a very accurate portrayal of all an employee’s differing roles in the organization.

But the comprehensive administration of 360 instruments and their consolidation can be time consuming and expensive. Enter Stoplight Methodology.

Each employee was given a list of every other employee in the company, and asked to mark them green, yellow or red. Green meant they were effective at their job, good to work with, and generally a keeper. Yellow meant they weren’t strong in all areas, but could be great with some improvements. Red meant that they had too many flaws to be considered a long-term player in the firm.

All answers were kept confidential, of course. The results were put into a simple spreadsheet, with all the employees listed on each axis. The results were a dramatic graphical rendition of each employee’ relationship throughout the organization.

Surprisingly, an obvious difference was with employees whose managers considered them “yellow,” meaning could be a keeper with some work. Some of these were scored as “Greens” by their peers and subordinates, but many were strictly red lights. That was a wake up call to how many managers were accepting low performers, perhaps because replacing them meant more work for the manger himself.

Try it in your business. It’s fast, easy and fun. (Well, at least for some people…)

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