3D Juggling 488: Handle with care
Su writes: "In recent days a 'media storm' has grown around a particular Facebook group supporting a man described in various quarters as a murderer and a victim of the prison service.
Few posters on this group were actually supportive of the actions of the man. In fact, what was happening on the site was that people were excited to be engaged in an online conversation which was in real time having an impact on the media. As Andrew McNeil reported to the audience of 'This Week' that the Facebook site was getting more and more interest, this was immediately commented on with pleasure by one of the posters. Whatever the moral argument for whether the site should have been created or kept live, what was happening on it was different to how it was being reported.
The media was accurate in reporting the number of supporters on the site – but the detail behind the numbers told a different story. As a result great generalisations were posited by newspapers and politicians declaring what this indicated about our “broken” society.
The quantitative data said one thing: the qualitative another. The statistics were easy to report and re-report without interaction with the data behind it – eg what was really being said. The evidence was easy, the reporting lazy. Assumptions were made and held up as fact.
As managers we have to be careful with how we deal with data when appraising our staff. Is the evidence we have reliable and valid? Does it need further investigation in order to make an assumption of what this means about our team member’s performance? It is too easy to take one piece of data about a team member and without challenging this, use it as evidence of fact.
Questions we can ask are:
• is this one example of behaviour indicative of typical behaviour?
• why did this happen? is there background data that needs to be investigated?
In order to be fair about the performance of members of our team, handle data with care."
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