Re: Measuring a Graphic Artist’s Performance

Below is my response to a discussion that started over the weekend on LinkedIn:

This is a problem I have been struggling with for more than a year. A couple of review cycles ago, my boss challenged me with trying to assign criteria for the creative staff’s annual reviews that would measure quality. We had spent about a year shoring up our project management and intelligence gathering systems as well as refining our processes to make our group more efficient. That’s all swell and dandy when capturing hard metrics, like volume of work, total number of hours on a project, and other data points, but it leaves out quality altogether. So he asked me: How do we measure quality?

Particularly in a large corporation, this is next to impossible. Or, at least I still have not found the answer. The How article mentioned above listed some suggestions, but my problem is that things like reputation and aesthetic appeal are both subjective. Incredibly subjective in fact. So much so that I do not feel comfortable putting these sorts of requirements into a person’s annual objectives because what looks and works for me might not work for someone else.

Unfortunately, it can get even murkier. One of our segment marketing managers initiated a project that should have been able to generate enough quantifiable and qualifiable data points that this would be a slam dunk for the creative team. But, the strategy was pushed to them but the segment and they were simply asked to contribute to the functionally and the graphic design. The look and feel. They did an outstanding job but the project is a huge failure because the strategy was flawed.

The only way I have been able to objectively evaluate the creative team has been when they truly push the envelope on a project. Did something from out of left field. One of my GCDs took a lead on creating a virtual tour of a well site, then created a campaign to promote it and show it off to customers at a trade event. His strategy drove the design and execution. The project was a huge hit and his annual review reflects that success. He used many of the same people and tools to execute the project that the above mentioned team used, but because he was driving the bus it worked like a dream. But how would have I assigned that as an annual goal the year before?

I read a really interesting article at The Atlantic on Google X last week and it got me to thinking about this subject. As an organization, all they are about it coming up with innovative ideas. I got a good sense of how they determine success — whether the project gets funded or not, then whether it performs in the market. But I wonder how a group like that measures success of the individual contributors?

Not sure if any of this helps, but know that you’re not alone.