The Faculty Scorecard

Every business school needs talented professors whose skills suit the school’s mission. A Faculty Scorecard helps administrators evaluate the faculty’s strengths and weaknesses—and determine where they could improve.
The Faculty Scorecard

At the end of her first semester as the business school’s new marketing instructor, Professor Trudeau received glowing evaluations from students. They praised her practical knowledge and experience and noted how much they enjoyed the marketing professionals she brought to class as guest speakers. Because she had previously been a product manager in a large international group, her examples were drawn from real-world situations. She also had a vast net-work of corporate contacts. Students seemed to appreciate this glimpse into the reality of corporate life.

Some of Professor Trudeau’s colleagues were less enthusiastic about her. Because she had never published research in a recognized journal, they felt that there was little academic justification for retaining her. Nonetheless, because the school placed a high level of importance on the quality of course delivery, her contract was renewed.

One way administrators traditionally have judged how much value professors add to the school is by looking at their research output. After all, high-quality research improves the classroom, adds depth to executive education programs, strengthens ties to the corporate community, improves national and international partnerships, and enhances the reputation of the school. However, many schools also recognize that there are other important ways to gauge a professor’s worth, such as classroom excellence and corporate connections.

Professor Trudeau’s school viewed her as a true asset, one who added value to the school and would be costly to replace. By retaining her, they were turning one of the students’ favorite teachers into a human asset—and a source of competitive advantage.

Major corporations constantly look for ways to measure and develop human capital. Schools that would like to follow that example often lack the tools for measuring how their professors add worth to their institutions. Corporate models for evaluating human assets tend to center around value for money. They measure factors such as customer satisfaction, employee cost, replacement cost, and benefits to society. However, these models do not translate well to the university environment, where the “customer” may be interpreted as the student, the student’s family, the student’s future employer, or even society in general.

One way schools can determine how well they are satisfying their customers and meeting their overall missions is by quantifying the contributions of their faculty through a Faculty Appraisal Scorecard. I developed this tool after reviewing the Kaplan & Norton Balanced Scorecard, studying the EFQM model of Business Excellence, considering the work developed by Andrew Mayo at London Business School, and working on the link between people and performance at the University of Bath in the U.K. Easy to use and adaptable to any school, the Faculty Scorecard can help deans and administrators determine how much value professors add to their institutions.

How to Measure

The Faculty Appraisal Scorecard is loosely based on a corporate model in which the organization identifies key factors that relate to its missions and goals. The factors are then weighted according to their strategic importance, and employees are appraised on each factor. The employee’s final score is determined when each factor is multiplied by the individual asset multiplier, or the weighting coefficient. The idea can be adapted for the academic environment, where value is based on teaching competence, research competence, managerial competence, a variety of interpersonal skills, and other factors that might be unique to a particular school.

Time is also a relevant factor in the academic world. Professors ideally will add value to a school commensurately over a period of years, so a relative increase in value over this period must be considered. Administrators must carefully consider what factors will be important to them in the long term, so they can make comparisons over time. However, the weighting of these factors might change if the school’s priorities change.

Faculty also need to be measured against a desired standard of performance. There should be no neutral position where they “neither add nor subtract value.” If professors perform below the standard, they become liabilities for the school by subtracting value. Any scale that measures human value in the school should take this standard into account.

The Faculty Appraisal Scorecard can be customized so that any school can measure the factors that administrators consider most critical. Each school must decide for itself what performance factors to measure, how to weight them, and how well professors are meeting the school’s strategic mission. The number of appraisal factors should be kept to a minimum, however. Too many factors will draw individuals toward the mean and make differentiation among professors more difficult.

Sample Scorecard

The fictional school that employs Professor Trudeau might evaluate its professors on six appraisal factors, weighted to give the highest importance to research, innovation, and corporate networking. Administrators at this school might also consider how well the professors fit with the organizational culture, though they consider this factor less important. Therefore, the school’s appraisal factors, and their weighting coefficients, are as follows: 

  • Quality of course delivery (0.15)—There are many ways to appraise course quality, but this school’s administrators look at how students evaluate a professor’s performance in terms of knowledge acquisition, achieving course objectives, teaching clearly, and using high-quality resources.
  • Number and quality of publications (0.20)—A school’s research can be measured through the number of articles its professors have published in recognized academic journals, as well as the number of working papers and academic presentations that are under way. Another important benchmark may well be the level of international funding a research project attains.
  • External corporate contacts (0.25)—Does the professor have close ties to the business community? Does he or she work with corporations on applied research in the discipline? This category measures talent for corporate networking.
  • Interpersonal skills (0.10)—Can the professor communicate effectively with students, administrative staff, peers, parents, corporate partners, and trustees? This is the area where the professor will be judged on ability to listen, give advice, make presentations, and negotiate.
  • Transversal skills (0.10)—These skills require professors to think outside the box and to cross-reference in their teaching. An ideal objective would be for professors of different specializations to share knowledge, create courses together, or carry out joint research. A professor also should be able to help students improve their general skills in making presentations, managing projects, conducting their own research, and working efficiently in teams.

A strong faculty, rich in human capital, can be a school’s best resource—but managing that resource requires administrators to understand its value.

  • Creativity and innovation (0.20)—Although creativity and innovation are among the factors used to assess quality in research, here they are used to determine how the professor’s creativity directly benefits the school. How does he or she use innovation to enhance learning in the individual course, to meet overall objectives in the program, and to improve strategic reflection in the school? For instance, a professor might be innovative in a course by adding an e-learning component and innovative in a program by creating a new academic specialization. Projects in alignment with the strategic objectives of the school will be appraised positively in this area.

Filling in the Blanks

For each appraisal factor, a professor can receive a score of between 0 and 2, rising in increments of half a point. This scale allows for just enough differentiation between scores to enable deans to evaluate their faculty. However, administrators can choose to measure in other intervals—increments of 0.2, for example. Obviously, the school should determine in advance what standards it will use to measure its faculty’s performance and maintain these standards over time.

If a professor receives high marks from students for how the course is delivered, he or she might receive a score of 1.5 on course delivery. If no research has been conducted over the period appraised, the professor would receive a “0” on that factor. Ultimately, the score will be multiplied by the overall weighting coefficient to determine the final measure of the professor’s performance.

The chart on the previous page shows a sample scorecard filled out for Professor Trudeau. Because she does well in some areas that the school values, such as maintaining corporate contacts, her overall score is above average despite the fact that she fares poorly in the category of conducting research.

If administrators want to determine what intellectual value Professor Trudeau adds to the school, at the end of the pay period they will multiply her overall coefficient—which is 1.225—by the cost of her employment. For example, assume the employment cost of Professor Trudeau is$100,000 during this pay period. Her value to the school will be $100,000 x 1.225, or $122,500. If school administrators want to compare her value to her cost, they should subtract her cost from her value. In this case, her value is $122,500 - $100,000, or $22,500.

Some schools might use this figure to determine whether the professor is adding or subtracting value over the course of her career. As long as the appraisal factors remain constant, the Faculty Appraisal Scorecard will allow the school to make comparisons over time.

Scorecard Benefits

Faculty Appraisal Scorecards may be completed during annual appraisals, at the end of academic years or course semesters, or at any other time that seems appropriate for the school. It is nevertheless important to ensure that the appraisal system remains consistent so that administrators can make long-term comparisons of a professor’s performance. Depending on the needs of the school, administrators can decide whether they want faculty to continue to develop in their strongest areas or work to improve in their weakest areas.

Not only can the Appraisal Scorecard measure the progress of individual professors, it also can measure how well whole departments are meeting the school’s strategic mission. The scorecard will help deans pinpoint their future objectives and work toward achieving them by asking professors to gain strengths in those areas. By helping schools meet their overall missions, the Faculty Appraisal Scorecard gives them an edge in a competitive market.

It’s essential, however, to avoid using appraisals to rank one professor against another, since a school’s strategic objective should not be to produce a staff of professors who are equally skilled in everything. Instead, its aim should be to develop a faculty with diverse expertise who can bounce ideas off each other and share their knowledge as they improve their skills. In this way, they will be adding value both to the school and to their colleagues.

It’s true that the Faculty Appraisal Scorecard favors a top-down approach. The school’s administrators determine which factors are important and how the professor is to be appraised according to each one. Nonetheless, the scorecard can become a tool for professors as well, because it offers them recognition for their work and helps them identify areas in which they should seek improvement.

In the highly competitive field of management education, it’s important that governors and administrators know where their assets lie and what their greatest strengths are. A strong faculty, rich in human capital, can be a school’s best resource—but managing that resource requires administrators to understand its value. A Faculty Appraisal Scorecard is just one tool deans can use to keep their schools competitive, productive, and focused on their missions.

D. A. Osborn is professor and head of the Management and Strategy Department of the Ecole Supérieure du Commerce Extérieur, Pole Universitaire de Léonard de Vinci in Paris, France.’