Posted by on June 14, 2015

‘Most HR Data Is Bad Data’ by Marcus Buckingham, HBR Blog Feb-2015, was just pushed to me on Twitter.

The main point is that we are not really capable of rating others. When rating others the rating tell more about you than the person that you are rating.

Aka whatever numbers and data comes out of this process, the validity is low.

It’s scary that we keep trying to make sense of things that doesn’t make sense …

As a reflection, I recently – at #XP2015 – heard a talk by Linda Rising, who suggested that we will always look for ways to fit information to fit our views of the world. … but this is not the direction I want to go with this.

I always wondered why we crave for these ‘absolute’ performance assessments. The obsession that you can put people on an absolute and linear scale of measure … the rank and yank idea.

Performance is relative … performing on one team is no guarantee for performance on another team. Performance is contextual.

If we accept that, then we also accept that performance is relative. Then it’s also more acceptable to use individuals subjective evaluations.

Several years ago I – just as a tool of my own – formulated the ‘stretch model’. Thinking of myself as a team coach I insisted on being able to assess my team members performance in a way so that I could also articulate it for each and everyone. The idea centered around the notion of ‘stretch’ … how and in what way does someone ‘stretch’ her or himself for the team?

I still believe that performance is relative and not absolute. To assess performance perhaps a better way to think about it would be some kind of ‘transfer pricing’ or ‘replacement cost’ … or perhaps both. What salary could this person get in another job? How much would it cost me to replace this person? How do I build a person to become more valuable? …

Just a thought.

You find the stretch model here:


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