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Innovation@Work: Utilizing a Balanced Scorecard in Performance Management

Effective performance management is key to staff development and retention. For Citizen Schools, taking a strategic and quantitative approach to performance management has helped to keep staff on track with organization-wide goals.

Citizen Schools is a national organization which partners with middle schools to expand the learning day for approximately 4,500 low-income children in seven states across the country.  Citizen School does this by mobilizing a second shift of afternoon educators, who provide academic support, leadership development, and “apprenticeships”—hands-on projects taught by volunteers from business and civic organizations. 

Guiding the overall work of Citizen Schools is a balanced scorecard, a results-based management system that looks at an organization’s success across a number of measures, such as fundraising and programmatic goals. Based on the balanced scorecard, every staff member has individual goals on which they are evaluated.

According to Kristin Brennan, Chief Talent Officer at Citizen Schools, the integration of the balanced scorecard into performance management promotes accountability to organization-wide goals for every staff member. “When we map staff goals to the organization’s goals, we can see, and staff can see, how those individual goals drive our overall accomplishments,” says Kristin.

To manage staff progress against their individual goals, all staff meet with their supervisors for a bi-annual and annual performance review. Using the balanced scorecard as a guide, staff are evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Business goals – essentially “what” a staff member accomplished. Business goals reflect quantitative metrics, for example specific fundraising targets or number of clients served. These goals tie directly to the metrics of the balanced scorecard.
  • Core competencies – essentially “how” a staff member accomplished their work. Core competencies could include project management, strategic planning or building partnerships. Competencies are a qualitative measure of how an employee met their business goals.

Kristin describes the adoption of this performance management framework as “common sense.” Three years ago, the organization integrated individual business goals into the review process. “As a data-driven organization, we needed an objective way to define the work that needed to get done,” says Kristin, “While the foundation of the balanced scorecard made this change possible, it was the scale and diversification of positions that made it necessary. As we grew from 200 to 400 staff, we saw the introduction of highly specialized roles that required a more objective approach to performance management.”

“Having goals tied to the balanced scorecard lends a degree of focus across our growing organization. Staff performance cannot exist in silos. Instead, our work and accomplishments all reflect overarching organization goals,” adds Kristin.

The results of this performance management system have been tangible. For example, the organization has a business goal for diversifying the corps of teaching staff. In the past few years, this number has grown from 30% to 50%.

For organizations that do not have a balanced scorecard, Kristin suggests a few ways to tie overall organizational measures to individual performance:

  1. First and foremost, understand your organization-wide goals. Answer the questions: What matters to us? What are we trying to achieve?
  2. Define the quantitative measures for every position. Tie these metrics to the overall organizational goals.
  3. Define the core competencies required for every position. Figure out what qualities are needed to meet the quantitative goals.

Citizen Schools has been kind enough to share their balanced scorecard with the Commongood Careers community. Download the sample balanced scorecard here.



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