What if the way we rate people’s efforts and talents, too often kills initiatives and undermines trust? On August 9, 2010, Samuel Culbert, author of Get Rid of the Performance Review, told NPR's Neal Conan, "It's bogus, fraudulent, dishonest at its core, and reflects stupid, bad, cowardly management," Unless our evaluation approach aligns with an innovation approach and enhances trust - we risk working against brainpower for both. What if, on the other hand, we spotted and rated innovative enterprises brilliantly, so they propelled new business incentives forward, and motivated intelligent proposals across every area of work?
It's time to step back and radically rethink the power of intelligent evaluations to jumpstart high-performance minds for an innovative era. To generate novel inventions, by igniting support through reviews for designers, is to set the stage for new business opportunities that most workers crave and yet few organizations achieve.
If you’ve seen this TED video, on how creativity gets clobbered in pretense of learning– you’re likely ready to reconfigure unfair reviews into more intelligent evaluation designs. Into reviews that promote innovation and pull ingenious people together for the greater good of all!
Yet organizations clobber innovation daily in at least 10 areas, if you believe Stefan Lindegaard at Business Week. Since traditional reviews not only clobber creativity, but also truncate trust, it's time to improve the way we rate novel initiatives at work. It's such a problem, The Wall St. Journal just reported on recent survey, which caused them to conclude: "Performance review systems have gotten so bad , that companies might be better served by doing away with them altogether."
An intelligent assessment is basically one that capitalizes on and ignites more brainpower from entire groups. It starts with personal reflection along with shared evidence of growth. It meets top organizational standards, yet follows highly diverse approaches toward innovative endpoints. It inspires innovators in ways that improve performance for the entire community. Criteria are often negotiated ahead, and results are communicated after, more as growth prompts than as punitive sticks. Intelligent evaluations are evidence-based, and lead to growth, excellence and sustainability of any initiative measured.
Check out how both employees and manager complain about current performance reviews. Evaluation limitations shut down the very innovation opportunities they could stoke for novel solutions. Too often ulterior motivates mark review designs are uses. For example, the New Haven Fire Department destroyed test results of white firefighters who scored higher than African Americans to allow promotions among black firefighters. This troublesome case, and research proofs that high stakes tests don’t work, raises the question How can reviews garner more intelligence-fair results?
This serious case of test abuse, also opens an opportunity to identify key problems within traditional testing practices. Yet unless reviews spark innovative pathways forward, or help organizations to value all people’s genuine brainpower, they miss the marks for incubation of any organizational growth. Rarely however, do workplace reviews predict more innovative offerings at work and across differences. Rarely do they build trust or cultivate innovative communities.
In fact, reviews can hold entire companies captive in toxins that result. Unfair tests not only create racism for example, but they also leave behind highly gifted people, and deprive workplaces of a wider diversity of talents, cultures, genders and ages. Simply put, unfair review work against the deep differences that lead to innovative brilliance. In my 1999 book Student Assessment that Works – a Practical Approach, I showed how Einstein was said to fail his grade eight math test and was kicked out of school for not paying attention.
How many high-performance minds have been graded unfairly at work, through poorly structured notions of what it means to rate an innovation. Could this problem be in part what holds back renewal and limits inventions?
Rather than kill efforts, stomp on incentives and diminish talents, so that we prevent new initiatives, it's time for a new set of testing standards. It's time to align evaluation criteria, to innovative growth desired, and to the trust people require to develop and use talents. The MITA brainpowered approach offers innovative change possibilities- and this hack is intended as triggers to begin discussions about how reviews impact brainpower for innovative growth.
These 25 marks of intelligent assessments – are intended merely as talking points to design intelligence-fair reviews, with a few jolts from brain sciences:
1. Design reviews that lead to refreshing solutions for stubborn work problems. Support people who offer innovative alternatives to ruts at work. Brain fact: Boredom is more a habit formed in brains, and shaped by daily choices against change, then stored in brain as a reality.
2. Ensure evaluations are clearly stated and easy to access. Brain fact: Environments influence brainpower, and a brain-compatible review process inspires people to transform problems into solutions.
3. Thank fellow workers for all personal or team accomplishments reviewed. Brain fact: Well being comes partially from and is fueled and extended by serotonin chemical hormones.
4. Give workers the gift of generosity, allow for incremental growth, and let go of a mean spirited grading. Brain fact: Anger, fear, and frustration are fueled and extended by cortisol chemical hormones, that diminish innovation.
5. Propose alternatives to an observed weakness. Brain fact: Venting through low ratings without suggested improvements, is bad for the brain and creates new neuron pathways to more of the same weakness rated down.
6. Act from the viewpoint of the person you rate, and offer the same helps you’d enjoy. Brain fact: Dendrite brain cells use the outside world and take shape, or grow based on what you do (or how you rate others’ efforts).
7. Vary background sounds and add music with more motivation cadence during evaluations. Brain fact: Music changes brain wave speeds in ways that impact moods and alter productivity – so people think clearly and see more possibilities in others’ offerings.
8. Stir curiosity and engage others by showing what you value and by asking what if …. Brain fact: Telling others how to improve works against listener brains and benefits speaker intelligence only. When we neglect to engage workers’ insights in the review, we miss growth opportunities that curiosity adds.
9. Shift approaches to reviews so that you review in a variety of ways that align with behaviors being reviewed. Brain fact: Hebbian workers rewire their brains to kill incentives, limit focus or even shrink their brains with sameness. Reviews that merely throw grades or negative comments at others, encourages Hebbian workers to avoid taking risks for growth.
10. Include differences as assets and allow for people to test new insights. Brain fact: Diversity training and reviews, for instance, commonly fail people mentally by treating inclusion as a deficit model – rather than as assets. Invite people’s novel suggestions for engaging differences through integration, for example.
11. Balance reflection and action items rated in order to promote quality performances with both at work. Brain fact: Brain waves can bring either sleep or peak performance, based on how you activate, reflect and manage them.
12. Research and open mentally to new and different assessment types that double as tools for innovative risk-taking. Brain fact: Hook assessments onto things people know and are learning so that growth increases in less time.
13. Change assessment approaches on regular basis, so that people focus on skill growth rather than on doing assessments well. Brain fact: Your brain’s basal ganglia stores old facts and creates ruts, while working memory holds few new facts and leads change.
14. Survey and engage more strengths than you focus on weaker areas. Brain fact: Multiple intelligences are common to all, used by few, and can be cultivated constantly with regular use of intelligent-fair assessment tools. Intelligence-fair refers to aligning assessment approach to practice, so that if you assess for skills – look for evidence quality outcomes of that skill.
15. Create rather than criticize, so assessments offer insights, ideas and possibilities, rather than act as sticks and demerits. Brain fact: Cynical or critical mindsets literally block creativity, limit talent in you or others, and stomp out innovation.
16. List key facts on assessments as guides and reminders consistently, to foster improvements ahead of tests. Brain fact: Memory can be outsourced to help people remember more of what is expected. To offer precise guidelines that double as assessments is to free workers’ minds for focus on daily growth.
17. Inspire novel young ideas that reach beyond any one test, through showing examples of what is possible. Brain fact: Plasticity enables people of all ages and backgrounds to rewire the human brain in ways that innovate brilliance at any age. Tests can motivate takers to attempt new possibilities, rather than shut down what they already attempted.
19. Encourage risk-taking often, through suggesting its value in step-by-step growth opportunities. Offer partial values, for instance, where an innovation failed, and ask questions that foster future attempts. Brain fact: Encouragement changes the chemistry of a brain through raised serotonin, and ratchets up tone for improved performance.
19. Communicate growth areas with care, openness and honesty. Brain fact: Meta messages destroy relationships through implications different from message spoken. Assessments should be written and communicated in a language that expects people to do well, and then supports even partial improvements.
20. Integrate items that are drawn from diverse ideas and people across many fields. Brain fact: It often takes an integration of hard and soft skills to solve problems with the brain in mind.
21. Relax people who take being reviewed, by showing how practice fosters further growth and letting worries go, jumpstarts brainpower to improve. Brain fact: Stress literally shrinks the brain, and tone in communication acts as a silent killer.
22. Seek genuine and lasting team relationships for innovative inventions, by offering group assessments. Brain fact: People develop higher interpersonal intelligence when given thoughtful opportunities to work together for a common endpoint.
23. Risk learning new facts at the same time reviews are communicated. Brain fact: Inspire creativity and invention through inviting novel alternatives to all requirements. Have respondents teach others at the same time they are being reviewed, and retention rises.
24. Collaborate to propose solutions. Brain fact: Create new neuron pathways collectively and add solutions to workplace problems encountered.
25. Celebrate rather than diminish those with different approaches, by offering more latitude in how practices are rated against a shared set of standards. Brain fact: Women’s and men’s brain differ biologically and intellectually, for instance, in ways that few assessments optimize.
- create opportunities for people to reach similar high standards through different approaches, thereby enabling people to capitalize on their unique mental proclivities.
- mean the end of the current test industry and the beginning of building intelligent communities across differences.
- require us to take advantage of recent neuro discoveries and identify what brain parts promote learning and growth, as well as avoid tests that stomp out change.
- could replace failed learning settings, with vibrant innovation that benefits entire communities.
- invite opportunities to engage and learn from many people who were disadvantaged by unfair tests that poorly represented their capabilities in past.
- could become the engine that helps universities and businesses to renew and shape their futures with innovation more in mind.
- call for an honesty of words, and an integrity of intention that shows genuine mental proclivity across different backgrounds.
- could raise low morale that comes with testing unfairly. Test a squirrel for swimming, an eagle for climbing rock walls or a fish for climbing and chart their lives on your scores, to see how unfair tests can ignore unique capabilities to approach heights differently.
- foster newly discovered solutions to stubborn problems, all because of new entry points opened by creative thinkers.
- help people to live realities with high performance minds, rather than according to myths created before neuro-discoveries transformed harmful myths.
- return vibrancy and relevancy to currently failing organizations, where one way is said to fit all minds.
- Invite more brilliant voices to inform us all on the other side of issues, and help human brains from defaulting to ruts within brains and from narrow experiences.
- alter workplaces to add refreshing opportunities for those interested in ratcheting up their own and their workplace IQ a notch or two.
The second step is to create consensus for building a review process that does what the majority of people at work want most. For instance, one might ask: "What if tests moved an entire organization ahead innovatively?
The third step is to create reviews on a set a shared criteria, and gather a team to pilot these very new tests - to ensure they align with desired outcomes for innovation growth.
The fourth step is to evaluate the newly designed tests and tweak where they can me made more efficient.