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Evaluation in the Workplace: Proficiency and Growth

March 23, 2017

The concept of workplace evaluations and performance reviews is something that can been seen across most industries.  From banking to consulting to medicine, the majority of individuals in the workforce experience formal and informal methods of evaluations.  While performance reviews play a pivotal role in determining bonuses and promotions, they are also a strong indicator of growth and improvement. 


Having formalized processes for measuring one’s internal growth allows management to compare employees while also ensuring standards are being met.  The most common and effective forms of evaluation combine two components: proficiency and growth. Oftentimes heard within the context of education, proficiency and growth allow educators and those administering evaluations the ability to look at a candidate vertically—in the context of solely the individual, and horizontally, or how individuals are performing compared to others. 


Growth can be a subjective measurement, however, with reoccurring evaluations and thorough documentation, evaluators can better understand an individual’s progress over a finite period of time. In measuring growth one aims to look at several components with a few being: changes in behavior (positive of negative), quality of work product, implementation of prior feedback, and ability to take on new projects or responsibility. Evaluators are primarily concerned with how someone is improving and developing within the organization.  To measure proficiency, standards or benchmarks are created and communicated across the organization so that employees know what is expected.  Oftentimes these are concrete skills or results that are required of all individuals.  Examples may include learning how to run different forms of analysis (data science), adequately preparing a slidedeck (consulting), or successfully passing the MCAT (medicine).  While forms of evaluation differ across companies and industries, they provide a useful tool to ensure accountability and adherence to company standards.


In Hilltop Consultants, teams are constantly held to high standards and given both formal and informal feedback throughout the course of the semester.  On three separate occasions throughout the semester each Hilltop team will present to the the board and the organization at large.  Through these presentations every member of the organization is able to provide feedback, propose recommendations, and observe their peers in a presentation environment.  Teams are not only able to solicit new ideas or propose new strategies, but have the ability to comment on each other’s work.  Due to the organization’s size and wide array of clients each semester, it is sometimes difficult to fully grasp the entire scope of the organization. However, presentations provide the opportunity to check in with other members of Hilltop and observe how a project evolves over the 16-week period.  This rather informal method of evaluation provides consultants with an opportunity to showcase their skills and research in front of the entire organization.


Similarly, internal presentations allow board members to observe the project manager, senior consultant, and consultants of each team all at once.  During the presentation, board members are able to critique slides, ideas, and presentation quality.  They ensure that consultants become proficient in using the official Hilltop Consultants slidedeck, understand appropriate research methods, conduct thorough research, and develop concrete recommendations and deliverables.  The purpose of the internal presentations is to ensure that only work of the highest quality and professionalism is presented to the clients.  Subsequently the presentations allow board members to observe the progress of the team and individuals over the semester, especially new hires.  Information collected from evaluations, are all considered when individuals apply for promotions.

The more formal process of evaluation and traditional performance review comes halfway through the semester. Everyone on the project team fills out an in-depth evaluation of all the other members on that specific project. Not only does the most senior ranking member of the team (the project manager) evaluate the members of their team, but the consultants evaluate and comment on the performance of the project manager.  This allows everyone to have a voice during evaluations and provides members with an opportunity to express their comments about the team and individual performance. Individuals can provide positive comments about things people on their team have been good at or they can provide comments or critiques about how an individual might improve. The project manager and senior consultant look at how each individual has grown over the semester and whether they are meeting the Hilltop standards.


The board reviews all the confidential performance reviews and distributes the relevant information back to the project manager and senior consultant.  The PM and SC then meet with their other Consultants one-on-one to distribute feedback and talk about what they are doing well and what they should work on for the rest of the semester.  One member of the board then meets with the PM and SC to discuss their performance as well. This evaluation process ensures two things.  First, that all members can provide feedback, regardless of position, and be guaranteed that it will be taken seriously. Second, it provides the board with tangible feedback and evidence from multiple sources about how an individual performs.  The evaluations are helpful for understanding whether an individual has acquired the skills necessary to be promoted and what kind of team they would best be suited for.


Hilltop is a student run consulting organization; however, the organization has taken steps to ensure that members produce quality and professional work for all clients.  Through the process of informal and formal evaluations, consultants are able to meet organization standards and grow.  The organization provides individuals with an opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, while also having a tangible impact on the community.

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