The medical profession, by necessity, has hard requirements (inflexible and critical requirements) for measuring competencies and performance. In fact, such measurement is mission critical. While the development profession does not have “hard” requirements, we can learn from their rigorous approach. Here are a few principles and rules that we could borrow:
According to a training report no less than $55.4 billion in 2013 was spent on training, including payroll and external products and services, in the US alone. The US and other countries spend a significant amount of money on employee development with the implicit assumption that training is correlated to improved on- the- job performance. However, what exactly should we measure to ensure that this money is well spent? What is it that we need to measure to determine that employees are performing as expected and thus benefitting from these training expenditures?
Two responses that we often get to this “what should be measured” question are “performance” and “competencies”. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the United States defines performance measurement as the “ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly progress toward pre-established goals.” Performance measures, therefore, help define what success at the workplace means (“accomplishments”), and attempt to quantify performance by tracking the achievement of goals. Competencies are generally viewed as “a cluster of related knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (Parry 1996), and are thought to be measurable, correlated to performance, and can be improved through training. While closely connected, they are not the same thing. Competencies are acquired skills, while performance is use of those competencies at work. Measurement of both is critical.
“Social and economic mobility, in any system, is essentially slack arbitrage: hard work is a successful strategy for those at the bottom because those at the top no longer work so hard. By custom, we disparage the idleness of the idle rich. We should encourage it. It is our best chance of taking their place. “
-Malcolm Gladwell, Staff Writer, The New Yorker
-As quoted in The New Yorker article, Slackers, July 30, 2012.
As many of you know by now, CommGAP is closing its doors this fall. We believe we have achieved a lot in the past five years, but we want to know what you think about our work - and about the role of communication for governance reform in general. Please help us assessing our performance and get a sense of your perception of the link between communication and governance by participating in our survey! It only takes about ten minutes. Deadline for participating is July 15.