Q & A: Organizational Versus Individual Performance Measurement

Q: Should court performance measurement “drill down” to the individual judge or employee performance? For example, should our performance measurement system provide clearance rates, on-time case processing, backlogs and other measures at the individual judge level?

Made2Measure: Generally, no. The focus of a court performance measurement system (CPMS) is organizational performance and not individual performance. Court performance measurement and individual performance assessment differ in purpose, methodology, interpretation and use. There is today insufficient knowledge and experience to support formal linking of the two. For example, there is today a virtual consensus that a fast court – a court timely and expeditions in its case processing – is a good court. No such consensus exists about a “fast” judge. Many “slow” judges are held in high esteem by their colleagues for their opinion writing, mentoring of junior judges, and community leadership.

Reporting breakouts by individual court employees, especially by elected judges as part of judicial performance review (JPR) or judicial performance evaluation (JPE), is likely to cause animosity and contention and carries the danger of derailing a CPMS. Such breakouts to the individual judge level figure prominently in the reasons not to measure court performance raised in opposition to organizational performance measurement.

Still, some courts may want to track breakouts by individual performance, especially when individual employees make clear contribution to measure such as case clearance and on-time case processing. Such breakouts may be useful for motivating employees and for providing clear incentives in performance appraisals. However, individual performance should not be made part of the measurement hierarchies of a CPMS and should be used for internal purposes only.

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