An employee scorecard not only helps connect a role’s core requirements to organizational goals, it can also be used for interviews and performance management to ensure alignment.
Every company struggles for talent, but those with aggressive growth plans are particularly hard hit as they scramble to fill an ever-growing number of positions.
There’s no single solution to the talent crunch, but leveraging a tool called a scorecard can dramatically improve your ability to identify, assess and hire the right person for a position. I’ve used scorecards for years to help companies large and small bring clarity to the hiring process. Most often, I see growing companies struggle with defining exactly what they need a role to do, before writing a job description and pushing it live. Scorecards not only help to uncover a role’s core requirements and connect them to organizational goals, they can also be used during interviews and performance management activities to ensure stakeholder alignment.
What are scorecards?
A scorecard is a template that answers these questions:
- What is the purpose of the position?
- What are the accountabilities that define its success?
- What does the person in this role need to accomplish during a set time period?
- And how do their accountabilities align with the overall business strategy?
While job descriptions are often weighed down with long, bulleted lists of tasks and soft skills that miss the real purpose of the position, an employee scorecard strips the role down to its essence. It’s a tool that lends itself to both internal and external functions. Internally, an employee scorecard provides clarity to role-holders and can be used by management to guide interviews and performance reviews. Externally, scorecards can be leveraged to create effective job descriptions that clearly communicate the talent required to create success.
How to write an employee scorecard
Scorecards always start with the organization’s purpose, and they define each role—from CEO to intern—in the context of the overall business’ strategy. Because that purpose needs to cascade from the top, it’s important to have the CEO’s scorecard in place first and then work your way down through the organization.
The business strategy will be heavily layered into the CEO scorecard, and those top-level accountabilities will waterfall through the scorecards of the broader executive team, with responsibilities and accountabilities flowing down through each direct report. This cascade effect usually results in scorecards that have progressively fewer accountabilities at each descending reporting level. If the CMO has seven accountabilities, for example, his or her direct reports might have five, the next level down might have three or four, and so on.
(Read what one experienced Chief Marketing Officer believes should always be part of a growth company CMO’s set of accountabilities.)
Who should help create an employee scorecard?
All stakeholders should provide input when creating a scorecard. For the CEO scorecard, the board of directors could be involved. For other executive scorecards, the CEO and the HR lead will be involved. Further down the line, scorecards should be developed by the person who the role reports to and reviewed by other stakeholders within the organization.
If the CEO has never developed scorecards before, I recommend that he or she pair up with someone in the company who is familiar with the position, but also brings fresh eyes to the process and is capable of asking good questions that drill down to a granular level. As the CEO discusses the requirements, this person can take notes, ask questions about any unfamiliar terminology or jargon and request more details as needed.
Four questions to ask for each accountability on a scorecard
When starting the scorecard process, the stakeholders involved should be able to answer these questions for each accountability:
- How is this accountability relevant to the role?
- Is this accountability more relevant to another role?
- Have we described this accountability in enough detail?
- How will we measure this accountability?
I suggest keeping the conversation open and informal. Don’t try wordsmithing the draft at this point. Get as many details down as you can for now, and work on refining the language later.
Turn soft skills into tangible expectations
If you’re new to scorecarding, it’s easy to fall into the old ways of talking about a role. Soft skills such as “time management,” “team player,” “communication,” and other behavioral elements may creep into the conversation, but it’s important to put these aside and re-interpret them within specific accountabilities.
Think about what those skills will enable the person in that role to accomplish and what goals it will help them reach. It’s not that soft skills aren’t important (they’re essential), but achieving success is ultimately what will drive your organization forward.
If we consider the soft skill, “time management,” rather than identifying Effective Time Management as its own accountability, we would incorporate a measure of time into a more specific accountability statement such as:
“Develop and manage a high-performing human resources team that is capable of meeting the needs of all employees on a daily basis.”
By including time as a component, you are implying they will leverage strong time management skills to be successful.
Make scorecards SMART
Scorecards replace generalities and jargon with clear goals that roll up into the business strategy, but those goals need to be defined in tangible, measurable terms. Let’s take the case of a CFO whose role includes an accountability to “Upgrade accounting processes and systems to decrease the month end close by five days.”
How will you assess their performance against that accountability in six months or a year? By making it SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.
Here’s the bottom line.
Scorecards help you shape organizational roles in the context of your overarching business strategy. By replacing granular tasks and vague soft skills with accountabilities that roll up to your organization’s core strategy, you can bring greater focus and precision to the task of identifying the talent you need to keep your company moving in the right direction.