An old saying goes: “When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and feedback is given, it improves at a higher rate.” While most managers agree with this adage, we find that few actually do a great job of measuring the performance of their people. This is a fundamental skill for all managers to know and be able to apply consistently.
Most high performers respond favorably measuring results
Frequently we hear managers resisting this responsibility because “It’s really hard to do.” Just because it’s hard, doesn’t make it impossible. It can be one of the most valuable things a manager can spend time doing. Why? Most high performers respond favorably to being measured. Performers like to know whether they are winning or falling behind. They want to know what actions they can take to improve performance. They appreciate working on issues that they can impact positively. We know that measurement is one of the surest motivators of organizational productivity because years of research show that what gets measured gets done.
Measuring results provides tangible goals
Another concern often expressed by managers is that they don’t know how to measure intangible issues such as, “better communication” or “being a better team player.” One way to think about this is to consider what better performance in those intangible areas would look like in terms of results. For example, if a manager more effectively communicates priorities, more deadlines would be met. Meeting deadlines becomes the metric.
Some managers think the concept of measuring performance doesn’t apply to their particular position or the roles their people play. Nothing could be further from the truth. To use a sports analogy, while the quarterback and receivers may get all the glory, their success is directly dependent on the performance of the linemen. The efforts of your marketing department can be supported or undermined by the performance of your custodial staff. Regardless of position on the organization chart, what gets measured gets done.
Parameters for measuring results effectively
There are some parameters for effective measurement and tracking. Measures must be:
- Within the employees’ control to act upon
- Clear and understandable
- Reasonable, within the realm of possibility to be achieved
Every manager’s job is to break down the overall measures of organization performance into elements that every employee can control. Yes, it may be challenging. Yes, it may take time and multiple iterations, but because it drives performance, measuring and tracking progress on those measures is always a large part of a leader’s responsibility.