post # 468 — November 21, 2007 — a Managing post
In many professional businesses, high technical excellence is taken for granted – we assume that having it is “table stakes” for competing.
However, it’s not a trivial issue to ask whether and how a firm goes about ensuring that its employees in fact meet high standards of technical expertise, especially in a world where companies tend to signal that revenue generation is a more pressing (if not more important) topic.
Who is best positioned in a professional organization to judge an employee’s technical quality? I assume that it might be that person’s supervisor, but there could be some built-in conflicts: what if the supervisor is under economic pressure to meet group goals and hence compromise (a little) degrees of technical excellence?
I’m curious about your experience as to how your firm or company goes about ensuring technical excellence. Is it some combination of:
- On-the-job supervision
- Peer Review Processes at the Job Level
- Annual Performance Appraisals
- Reward schemes
Or something else?
Jeff Temple said:
As both a buyer and seller of technical competence, I find that people and firms consistently overstate their competence. We have a self assessment system for all recruits, and one area is their technical competence. We’re continually amazed at the people who rate their skills as world class. The same is true of service firms I’ve hired.
Client ratings are helpful, but we also find that some clients rate people high by their standards, only because the client is mediocre themselves or lacks exposure to best practices. Feedback from a best of breed client is far more useful than an average across a bell curve of clients.
posted on November 21, 2007