How to Evaluate Internal Designers

Hi Everyone,

What kind of metrics does your organization associate with internal designers to evaluate them? I.E. Scorecard. I was just curious on getting some outside perspective on how others are evaluated in design roles that can at times be hard to quantify “results” of duties.


Create list of criteria (eg, CAD skills, manufacturing knowledge, curiosity, people skills, presentation skills, nunchuck skills, bow hunting skills, computer hacking skills, etc.). I have seen very long and very short lists.

Weigh the criteria to your companies needs/wants. (eg, CAD skills - 1, nunchuck skills - 5)

Evaluate each designer to each criteria. Use the weight scale to see where they need more work.

Or there is a shitton of HR evaluation tools on the interawebz. eg,

Thanks for the input iab!

I do something similar to iab. I also do relative forced ranking. Even if you build a stellar team, and everyone is very good to excellent, if you use force ranking you get to who your top performers are and who needs the most improvement for rewards and development plans.

In my experience, any evaluation system of any kind must collect data from all sides and be weighed accordingly. If detailed evaluations are taken from management to measure staff employee performance, they must be balanced with management performance data taken from staff employees. (this tends to be a large IT effort costing a lot of $$$)

The thing I have learned with these kinds of management techniques is that each one has its window in time. When the current regime is put into place, they will typically take the opportunity to roll out new techniques/policy and then make changes based on the data received. When they act on the data results, if you can survive, you probably more than likely will not see the same technique again in the future and these types of management tools are always being developed and obsoleted. Stack ranking has many failures in its history.

I’m currently part of a government policy initiative that has been rolled out nationwide to measure competency rates. On the surface it appears to be a very arduous and sophisticated UX software tool that collects data from all participants. I see this as the future of evaluation methods by large organizations if adopted. We are in the data collection phase now but rumor has it that we will probably see the program killed when the President’s current 5 year tenure comes to an end. These kinds of HR efforts are typically linked to the current regime in who is in power whether it is a private corporation, multi-national firm or government.

You don’t need software. When I was at Nike this was all paper and conversation based. There were about 75 footwear designers with a handful of directors. Each director would review their team members on at least a quarterly basis and then meet with the other directors to discuss their ratings to ensure alignment and that everyone was rating in a similar fashion. It worked well. When I went to frog they created a digital 360 system where any team memeber could rate any other team member or director on a project by project basis. Completely custom software designed by a team at frog. Total failure. No one used it. Don’t let tools trump common sense. A digital system could be great, but the more comprehensive and inclusive it is the more likely it is to reduce participation or everyone just grades each other high.

I have a simple system that I encourage my directors to use with their teams. I have weekly check 1 on 1 check ins, and quarterly reviews. I keep a running word file of notes on the directors that report to me in terms of what they are doing well and where they can improve. I use this to guide the topics I want to bring up in our weekly sessions so that hopefully things are resolved before quarterly or yearly reviews. We have an HR standard yearly review and I usually augment that with a selection of my notes.

I use the grading like iab mentioned, my own force rank, and 360 feedback from peers, directors, and other execs that I seek out personally, to formulate the reviews. It helps me triangulate a final review. The force rank is important because as a leader you may have the unfortunate task to contract your team or the difficult task to expand it and need more leaders. I find it is good to have the answers to those questions before anyone asks you so that hopefully you can either defend your headcount or promote from within. For the same reason I am always surfing portfolios just case I need to staff up I have an idea of who I would like to interview.

This is very similar to my approach though instead of a number scale I use, basic, expert, and master since we have 3 “levels” of designer positions, Junior Designer, Designer, and Senior Designer.

Alongside the levels of positions I assess the amount of initiatives a designer starts and owns outside of what their job description is on paper.

For me it is all about blending, so a Junior Designer might have master level Photoshop skills, but basic level industry knowledge, once a Junior has expert level in the majority of the job criteria and has taken some additional initiative then I can assess if they are ready for promotion.

In developing a system like this you can also use it to write job descriptions, so for example a Junior job description would have “basic” under most of the criteria, Designer would have basic to expert, and Senior would have expert to master.

In a corporate environment I’ve found this to be a good method to maintain a designer’s progress while navigating the HR side of things.

Here were my criteria:

  • Development of concepts on assigned projects
  • Ability to find new ideas / concepts / business ideas
  • Engagement - within the team and within the company
  • Communication with other departments and outside suppliers
  • Task and project management
  • Technical drawing and documentation
  • Graphic design, instructions, mise en production

I graded on a scale of 1-5 and added comments (the most important part). I did just annual reviews, but daily 1-on-1s with each team member where I would often remind them of the objectives. Also, these criteria are biased towards a start up where new business ideas and shipping are critical.

Thanks everyone, great feedback@