Every month Prairie Business asks several regional business leaders a question, and they answer with their perspective and insight about their particular business or industry.

The question we asked for November is: "What metrics do you use to measure the success of your employees?"

Below are how four of the region's exemplary business leaders responded:

Chris Zygarlicke, director of Employee Development and Engagement, University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center, Grand Forks, N.D.

The EERC takes pride in the success of its employees and measures that success through its five core values of being safe, ethical, engaged, effective, and professional. We use an employee review process that revolves around those core values, providing salary raises to reward successful performance along core value guidelines. This could include successful new energy and environmental innovations, project development, or internal systems that allow our organization to thrive ethically and safely.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

Each year, through a peer-nominated process, the EERC recognizes five employees who have demonstrated the five core values in action and attitude, giving an award for each at the EERC annual meeting. Successful self-development is also recognized through an employee development program. Our annual employee engagement survey provides metrics on interpersonal connection, morale, and job satisfaction.

Jon Simmers, CEO of Bismarck Aero Center, Bismarck, N.D.

At Bismarck Aero Center, all employees are first measured on their alignment with company values. Our company values are paraphrased as being a problem solver, customer focus, coworker loyalty, and being a responsible steward of our community and our industry. Nearly 50% of our annual evaluation is based on values alignment.

Beyond our values, our co-workers focused in technical roles are measured on several factors. We measure efficiency, safety behaviors, quality, and attendance. In addition, we evaluate one’s technical abilities with respect to growth. If we are not seeing the desired skills progression with a co-worker, we try to recalibrate training needs and define matching training resources. We also evaluate if a co-worker exerts traits that bring out the best of others, initiative, and track record of “doing what you said you were going to do.”

My co-workers in leadership capacities measure success by their progress with company goals, performance metrics, and their individual growth goals. Our leadership team is responsible to balance driving performance to goals, and maintaining a high morale amongst co-workers. This starts with clear expectations communicated annually, coupled with periodic check-ins along the way. Company morale is measured through periodic surveys.

Lois Erickson, human resources manager, Houston Engineering Inc., Fargo, N.D.

Performance metrics can vary widely by industry, company, and position. Finding the right set is a complex exercise because there’s no such thing as one-size-fits-all. At Houston Engineering, Inc., we primarily measure success as one company. We strive to collaborate with cross-office work sharing and leverage individual strengths as needed in our diversified service areas. As a result, a large part of our performance rewards focus on our group successes.

However, to ensure we meet our commitments to our customers (and our colleagues), we also assess individual contributions. Specific metrics can vary widely among our staff and may focus on acquiring new clients, reducing expenses, or obtaining new skills through training. As a consulting firm, we also understand that many roles are not easy to quantify – particularly those requiring soft skills, such as good listening and presentation skills. We still try to capture these types of employee contributions, but it might not be through traditional quantifiable metrics.

People often want a way to measure their work so that they can gauge and understand their

accomplishments. The key to establishing effective measures for a job lies in identifying those areas that an employee can directly influence and then ensuring that the specific measurements are tied to the client(s) or colleague(s) they are meant to serve.

Ty Orton, executive director, DSU Heritage Foundation, Dickinson, N.D.

Teamwork. We are a small office and each person has a certain part they must accomplish to keep our foundation moving forward each day. Teamwork assures our contributions are recorded properly, the donor receives the proper recognition and the impact of their dollars.

Teamwork is a strong part of communicating with our board and all donors. This is the easiest way to evaluate employees, because if they are not willing to be part of a team it will be obvious to all involved.