Sometimes watched, sometimes boosted, employees do not experience evaluation in the same way

L'évaluation concerne plus de 80 % des entreprises françaises.

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Posted on Nov 22, 2021, 7:18 PMUpdated Nov 26, 2021, 4:02 PM

“I have the most referenced reviews of the entire company… and 90% of them are positive! “ Julien, 39, real estate agent, does not hide his pride. His rating is 4.8 / 5. Each time he signs a contract, his customers can give their opinion in the form of stars. This rating will guide the managerial support strategy for the worker.

According to this former CDI who became freelance, this starred tool allows both “Control” employee activity but also “To motivate and legitimize oneself with customers”.

In another sector of activity, Léa, 30, senior consultant at BCG, does not receive stars from her clients, but feedback. These detailed feedbacks written by their managers (which are added to those of their teams) feed into “His annual career reviews” – borrowing the vocabulary of the cabinet. According to a grid which acts as a guide, Léa will be evaluated on ten dimensions. In half of them, a score of 1 to 5 will summarize their skill level.

Star, 1 or 5, low or high potential?

“These feedbacks are very important to me. It allows me to have traces after a mission and to understand this or that decision of my managers. The numerical score serves as a referral, but the finesse of the evaluation is done with the comments “, explains Léa. And at BCG, everyone can give their opinion… on everyone provided they have worked together once, this is the principle of 360-degree feedback.

We find the same logic in another consulting firm, Capgemini. Jean-Charles, 29, has been a consultant there for more than two years. To assess him, his career manager, his manager, an HR representative and a resource manager meet every three months to take stock of the feedback compiled over the course of his quarterly assignments.

the “Global employee monitoring” according to the terms used by the company is done via an internal tool implemented since 2017. From which results (in part) the evaluation of its “potential”. Determined by the motivation and the capacities demonstrated by the collaborators, it can be low, medium or even high. Employee support will then be adjusted to this assessment to respond to the issues of an ultra-competitive sector.

I have been detected as high potential in the company

Jean-Charles, 29, consultant

In office for a little over two years, Jean-Charles praises this process. “I joined as a developer, today I am a business consultant in contact with clients. Thanks to this process, I was able to climb the ranks quickly because I both validated the required skills and was detected as ‘high potential' in several areas. “ At the same time, he was able to increase his level of responsibilities by moving from level B on a scale from A to E, while he had joined the firm at level A.

Assessment under conditions

Whether literate or numeral, scoring is therefore not the prerogative of Uber Eats delivery men. It is in fact only one of the possible variations of the evaluation, a tool today largely integrated in the companies. Legally, the employer is not obliged to do so but he has the right to evaluate the work according to different forms (interview, rating, assessment grid, etc.). These evaluations are subject to numerous conditions, including the confidentiality of the results, the objectivity and the transparency of the criteria.

If desired, the employer can propose, at the end, an increase in remuneration or a promotion. On the other hand, one or more bad evaluations (for example, non-achievement of objectives) do not allow the employer to demote the employee, nor to lower his remuneration without his agreement. Likewise, one or more bad evaluations alone are not sufficient to justify a dismissal.

More than 80% of companies

Born in the United States in the 1970s, the trend of employee evaluation was exported to Europe in the 1980s and 1990s. Its generalization dates from the following decade. First applied to executives of large companies – particularly in banking and insurance – it gradually widened to execution trades, then to medium-sized, even small companies. In 2010, more than 80% of English companies practiced it, according to a European study cited by “Le Monde”.

Estimating the proportion of companies that assess using numerical scores is nowadays almost impossible. “They remain very discreet about their internal kitchen”, deciphers Dr Florence Benichoux, at the head of Better Human, a human resources consulting firm. According to the specialist, fewer and fewer companies display their quantitative valuation methods, emphasizing the qualitative, for fear of legal repercussions.

Quotas, scandals and lawsuits

In recent years, scandals and lawsuits have multiplied. In 2002, IBM was pinned for its employee rating system by classification. This involves classifying employees into different categories to determine the evolution of their remuneration. The unions, at the time, criticized their management for having set up quotas within this rating system. According to them, knowing that employees were rated from 1 (very good) to 4 (mediocre), line managers had to ensure that at least 3% of those assessed were classified in 4.

In 2013, it was HP's turn to take the helm for the same reason. Sentenced in first instance by the Grenoble court, the company appealed and the Court of Cassation then declared that a method of evaluating employees based on the creation of groups assigned pre-established quotas that the evaluators were required to respect was illegal. This is not the case when the quotas are only offered for information.

Forced ranking, generalized ranking?

Four years later, the Sanofi group is under investigation for its rating system. Employees say they are undervalued to reach quotas of bad employees set by the hierarchy – the so-called “forced” ranking is again in question. The case hit the headlines, management, committees and unions clash with press releases.

According to the various specialists we consulted, it is likely that this type of practice will still persist in certain companies, especially in sectors where premiums are substantial.

Evaluation is everywhere

Bénédicte Vidaillet, psychoanalyst

But the criticisms do not only concern quotas. Most employees criticize “The individual evaluation system” applied in their company or administration, according to the 2021 edition of the barometer on their opinions and their expectations at work carried out by Viavoice for the General Union of engineers, executives and technicians of the CGT.

“Not based on good criteria”

Almost 7 technicians or employees in intermediate professions in 10 consider that the evaluation does not recognize their work (68%), while more than 6 in 10 consider that it is not transparent (62%). Among executives, nearly six out of ten employees find that this system is not transparent (58%), nor “Based on good criteria” (62%). And we can easily imagine the possible drifts: competition, overwork, pressure, humiliation, eviction …

The fact remains that certain transparent and lawful rating methods may appeal to employees. In unison, Julien, Léa and Jean-Charles told us “To be boosted” by rating and feedback in their work, even in their career. In their mouths, criticism is almost non-existent.

The barrel of the Danaïdes

But then why do they like to be evaluated? “The insatiable quest for recognition! ” answers Bénédicte Vidaillet, lecturer at Lille-I, in her book Rate me! Evaluation at work: the springs of a fascination (Ed. Seuil, 2014). And the psychoanalyst assures her, we need someone to tell us that what we are producing is good.

Nevertheless, she points out the perverse aspect of this logic that she compares to the barrel of the Danaïdes. We fill it, but if it is pierced, it is never enough. “The more we pretend to assess more closely […] what the individual has done and reward him accordingly, the more we widen the hole and create an identity instability which can only fuel the endless demand to be recognized ”, writes Bénédicte Vidaillet, insisting on the fact that “Evaluation is everywhere” In the working world.

Evaluation vs. evolution

What are the possible remedies in the face of this “Evaluation gear” ? On the form, Dr Florence Benichoux suggests no longer talking about “Rating” or more generally “Evaluation” but rather “Evolution”. “It must be a space for dialogue and listening to employees, and not a moment that could weaken them. I am not against the rating, but against its excesses and its individualization! “ explains the specialist who pleads for a more collective assessment.

Collective evaluation makes it possible to avoid certain biases. But others can nestle elsewhere. “The 360 ​​method, which crosses several points of view, does not guarantee the absence of bias, pointe Sophia Galière, Lecturer in Organizational Theory at the Université Côte d'Azur. How would the multiplication of points of view justify the objectivity and neutrality of the evaluation? “

There are therefore still many questions about evaluation methods. And the answers always fluctuate – according to structures, situations, times. But, all the time, everywhere, Frédérique Chédotel, deputy director of IAE Angers recalls that he is “Essential for an evaluation to be relevant that it truly integrates the right to make mistakes. “


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