Why assessing impacts
Each of us has different ambitions and expectations for our careers, and as any growing company, we faced the problem of unbiased performance and rewarding mechanisms.
With the impact assessment model, SparkFabrik is hopefully providing a map and a compass to everyone who wants to grow, step up and take over new roles and responsibilities.
Although far from being a comprehensive framework for performance review and rewarding, this approach has proven to be highly effective in guiding individuals' growth, aligning it with the company's expectations, as well as highlighting the signs of each person's professional advancement.
In short, you may want to assess your impact to:
- Understand what's expected from you and where you can improve your skills, in terms of self-evaluation.
- Periodically check your growth and results by collecting external feedback, with the help of a senior colleague or responsible.
How to assess your impact
We don't like when people work to jump the bar of a KPI. Numbers are useful high-level indicators, but they are of little help when you want to understand the true reasons behind local phenomena, tied to people's behaviors and their outcomes.
That's why we evaluate our employees based on the impact they have on the company's business1. The duties of each role are detailed based on the desired outcome, not on compliance with a set of tasks and procedures we put in place.
These outcomes are seen as important to business, context, and company culture by the company governance and each of us is called to put his creativity, wit, and experience to good use so that we can reach our goals together.
Each employee has accountabilities that come from their seniority level and role on a project. Each descriptive page for a level or role can be printed out generating an Impact Scoring Card (IAC), which lists all expected impacts and qualities that the role is expected to have.
For each point in the impact assessment card, you can mark out one of three possible values:
- I still can't match the expectation: You feel you still can't jump the bar. Take a short note of how you think you can do better and discuss about it in one-on-one meeting with your responsible, your senior colleagues or HR.
- I deliver what's expected: You think you're a perfect fit - or can be a perfect fit if you're assessing your match for a new seniority level or for a project role.
- I exceed this expectation: You think you are doing (or you can do) more than expected. Take a short note so we can discuss this and, if we all agree, reward your merits.
If you can't say or are confused, that's a sign you'd better talk to your responsible or an HR representative to better understand the meaning of the point and decide how you're doing on that.
When to assess your impacts
You can print an IAC every time you feel like it and go with a self-assessment. Because why not?
Of course, there are moments when this is most valuable:
- When you feel lost about your role and duties and want to check in on them to focus on what's important
- When you think you are ready for a step up in your career, you can take your assessment to the table to talk about your perceived strengths and weaknesses
- When you ask for a raise, you can sustain your request with a list of your positive impacts
- Right before one of the one-on-one meetings scheduled by the company
Self-assessment vs external feedback
Maybe you don't feel like evaluating your impacts by yourself. In that case, you can reach out to someone to evaluate your impact.
Who is best qualified to help with that, depends on the context: if you're a junior developer, getting feedback from your team leader or from a more senior developer you are working with is ok.
If you are a long-time sparker with high-level duties, working as an architect on a project, maybe talking to our CTO may be the best option.
If in doubt just ask HR about that and we'll sort it out.
Being objective about ourselves is nearly impossible, but it's also true that no one knows us better than we know ourselves.
If you feel you had less or more impact than expected, try to come up with a tangible fact to support your feeling. If you can't, reaching for your responsible to have feedback on that point can be a good idea.
If you feel you are stuck on something or you can't decide, ask yourself these two questions:
- Which single action can I take to improve on that?
- What's one action I took that positively impacted the outcome?
This may help you calibrate your perception.
Although other people may not always be objective in evaluating your impacts, it is important to sustain the conversation openly and get all the reasons behind each score. Even when it's difficult to take, honest feedback is the most valuable thing you can base your growth upon.
Different people will see you in different lights and from different perspectives. This is also food for thought and will help you nurture social skills, useful if you want to be appointed lead developer, or when you will take an exposed project role like team leader or analyst.
If you feel you got an unfair assessment from your colleague, you can have an HR representative review the evaluation with you and the evaluator at the same table.
Assessing someone else
It may be difficult and uncomfortable to give honest feedback. You may be tempted to be too soft, too rewarding, shy away from harsh topics, etc. Or, quite the opposite you may be in rage for something really bad that recently happened and be tempted to bash your colleague with a bad evaluation, calling off months of good work and wiping the slate clean.
Having to explain your reasons may help you be more objective. Should the conversation become difficult, try to explain to your assessee how they may succeed in the future instead of just pointing out how badly they failed. But don't sweep the dirt under the carpet. Remember that the reason you are providing feedback is to allow your mate to do a better job next time. Always talk as you trust they will. Because you do.
1: Our model has been inspired by Deeson's one, which in turn is claimed to be borrowed from Stack Overflow in the first place. Credits go to both companies for the great catch on evaluating substance and not numbers. Thank you, guys!