September 4, 2012

Technical Writer Metrics for Appraisal/Review

Metrics for Annual Appraisal/Review:An Opinion


In the office, I hate doing three things firing, interviewing and appraisal. Through this post sharing my view on the appraisal process and the parameters to be considered while appraising technical writers.

This is a very vast topic to discuss, so this post is limited in scope and depth.

 Most of my friends HR friends admit that they never find a perfect metrics or parameter for appraisal which can satisfy both employee and employer.

Surprising but true nearly half of human resources managers don’t think annual performance reviews are accurate appraisals of employee performance, according to a recently released survey by the Society of Human Resource Management and Globoforce, an employee recognition company.

 During Chanakya era (2000B.D) doctors would puncture their patients’ veins and let them bleed out in order to rid them of their diseases. Today we laugh at the practice of bloodletting. I’m sure our future generation will come up with some new formula (or maybe it is existing I’m not aware) and laugh on ours, but we have to face appraisal as is is one of the necessary evils of the company.

Why I don't like to do appraisal?

Few things which I never able to understand and still searching answer for it. Do you have?

  • 5 Point Someone: How can I measure myself on the scale of 1-5.I believe 5 can be assign to Lord Krishna not to me. 
  • Why these processes happen once in a year, half yearly or even quarterly: My manager has a bad memory he forget what I did ten months earlier. 
  • Why matrices  are so generalized for technical writers, where shorter is better.
  • How can we do the appraisal on the basis of 10-20 odd  objective that are vague and subjective.
  • Why most appraisal matrices revolve around writers' attributes while their effectiveness is almost ignored.
Basic appraisal metrics for technical writer

An appraisal is a very delicate issue, and setting detailed, measurable, holistic and well-considered objectives in the beginning is very critical.

The following are samples of rating factors and example standards taken from a variety of sources for a technical writer. Please feel free to combine or modify them to fit your needs.Below list is indicative only, however if you can be specific and tailor expectations and results to custom fit your team, by all means that is the perfect way to go.

The toughest part is coming up with specific and correct ways to measure these parameters, those are very much variable by the organization, and role.

Broadly dividing the attributes in four competence: 

Task/Core/Project execution Competence

  • Dependability/Initiative
  • Tool Knowledge
  • Language Knowledge
  • Timeliness in Deliveries
  • Productivity

 Knowledge/Functional competence

  • Subject knowledge
  • Technical competence
  • Process compliance
  • Understands requirements
  • Ability to capture technical depth accurately
  • Feedback from tech / editorial reviews / clients
  • Develops and implements new solutions, procedures and concepts
  • Demonstrates accuracy, thoroughness, and reliability
  • Pays attention to detail
  • Quantity of Work The volume of work produced by the employee, along with his or her speed, accuracy and consistency of output.
  • Produces necessary results in spite of unforeseen changes
  • Alerts appropriate team member if deadlines need to be re-negotiated to accomplish work with higher priority

Behavior competency

  • Communication Skills
        - Oral communication / body Language
        - Effectiveness of written communications (emails, status reports...)
  • Self Development
          - Enhancing Product and Domain knowledge
          - Training and development (passionate about continuous learning)
  • Adaptability: Efficiency with which employee works under stress and responds to change.
  • Assertiveness/Motivation
  • Attendance
  • Judgment
  • Interpersonal Relations
Management competency
  • Problem Solving & Decision Making
  • Clearly defines responsibilities and authority limits of subordinates 
  • Makes effective assignments to subordinates based upon demonstrated skills and
  • Motivates employees to think and work independently
  •  Recognizes individual capabilities and assigns work accordingly

Each of the above parameters can be given low to high ranking, which can be appropriately tweaked as per the seniority of the writers. For example, for a Junior writer, Management Skill may be 5 or 10, while for a Doc Manager it can increase substantially.

Where is customer satisfaction. Ooops!!! i might be missing many, Please let  me know.

Source:Wikipedia,LinkedIn,The University Of Arizona
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