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Calibrating Consistency

HR Magazine, January 2008Keys to Calibration

Here are some keys to a successful calibration process:
  • Educate managers. They need to understand what calibration is, why it is necessary, how it works and their roles.
  • Don’t hide it. While managers don’t necessarily have to go out of their way to communicate how the calibration process works, they should not hide it from employees. “It could be demotivating if the calibration process is seen as some sort of secret society,” says Iona Harding, SPHR, president of Harding Resources, a consultancy in Princeton, N.J.
  • Don’t expect perfection. The calibration process is imperfect because the people using it are imperfect. “A strong facilitator can help even things out,” says Harding. “Have checks and balances so that leaders are held accountable for their performance decisions.”
  • Get the right people involved. “Make sure that the person representing an employee can articulate what that employee has accomplished and can respond appropriately to questions or challenges from the group,” says Michelle Biro, manager of performance with Whirlpool Corp. in Benton Harbor, Mich. “The most successful calibration meetings have direct managers involved.”
  • Set appropriate ground rules for meetings. “Participants must feel open to challenge and debate,” says Biro. “They must also feel comfortable asking their peers for advice if they need help in determining or communicating a rating.”
  • Leverage the information gathered. The power of calibration goes beyond today’s performance ratings. These discussions yield important insight into the state of the company’s talent pipeline and overall development needs for many years to come.

Joanne Sammer is a New Jersey-based freelance writer.


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