Everything of any importance in the world is measured. It’s fundamental, isn’t it? In your monthly bill paying cycle, you measure your utility bill, your mortgage and other expenses to be sure they add up to less than your income.
But in our professional life, we don’t often know how our performance as managers or team members is measured. Sure, we likely have some sort of evaluation….some more insightful than others. But are we moving the dial for the organization? Unfortunately, teams and their members are all too often not measured in meaningful ways that help them see where they are and how to get better. It’s not enough to measure….we have to measure what matters.
This organizational dynamic is odd, because performance in every area of life and work is measured.
- We celebrate world class Olympic athletes whose performance is measured in nanoseconds–and hailed around the world.
- In business, no credible organization can operate without measurement–the profit and loss ledger is king. Are we making money or not?
- When I step on the scales in the morning, I’m measuring my performance in eating yesterday–did the tiny bowl of yogurt I ate for breakfast save me from gaining weight after eating a large size pizza last night? (Probably not, you think?)
- Even hot dog eating contests are measured–Joe “Jaws” Chestnut is the world champion in hot dog eating, consuming 74 dogs in 10 minutes.
Early Attempts to Measure Performance–that Didn’t Work
There have been many attempts to improve human performance through measurement. Iconic consultant Frank Bunker Gilbreth (July 7, 1868 – June 14, 1924. portrayed in the classic movie Cheaper by the Dozen) was one who believed in measurement.
Gilbreth famously stood with his stop watch on the manufacturing floor–dressed in his suit, tie, and vest–measuring how long it took workers to perform their action on the assembly line. Gilbreth’s intimidating method of improving performance with his stopwatch did not become widely used. Yet effective performance measurement and improvement is still not often effectively done in organizations.
Getting Beyond Recruiting to Data-driven Performance
Organizations are so focused on hiring that they often don’t address the issue of developing high-level performance once the manager is on board.
Recruiting is a $200 billion dollar industry in the US alone. Unfortunately, funds spent on aligning teams for success once they are on board is a fraction of what is spent on recruitment. What do you do to ensure that managers add measurable value to the organization? Or do you leave their performance to chance, clinging to the hope of what you learned about them on their resume and how they came across in their interviews?
Developing Employees Today–Things Tried that Don’t Work Well
- You’ve Got the Job–Now It’s Up to You. Organizations need systems to help make a manager successful, but all too often these systems are just not in place. At the very start, all eyes are on managers’ ability to take the reins–like the new sheriff in town–and to move forward. The rigorous grilling that managers got to get the job turns into a year or more of waiting after they are hired to see if they turn out.
- Are Training Programs Effective?–Sometimes Yes, Often Not So Much. Corporate training has a very mixed record of success. Training programs are often sporadic and ineffective. They are often an add-on that lacks connection with the real work of the organization. They do not reflect a laser focus on the mission of the organization as well as its immediate goals.
- Does Drive By Mentoring Improve Performance? We have worked in organizations where managers were encouraged to mentor other managers as they have time and opportunity. This never gets done in a consistent, timely way. I have learned skills from mentoring that I have used for decades, but on a consistent basis, managers simply don’t have the time and focus to raise the performance of a direct report or colleague.
- What is the Effectiveness of Performance Reviews? You probably agree with me that performance reviews are the most universally used, misused and maligned means of employee development. They are often required by the legal department to document behavior. They are often part of a “performance plan,” but rarely help performance.
Alignment–the Key Measurement Number for Performance Today
In the old days blacksmiths made horseshoes and they measured the amount of the metal at the beginning of the day and counted the number of horseshoes at quitting time. Measurement was easy–it was a guy, his hammer and an anvil.
Today interrelations of people on teams are the key to organizational success. Alignment is the key measurement. People rarely work independently. Rather there are numbers of people on teams working for an outcome that requires intricate interactions among them. The lack of alignment means misdirected actions and timelines that stretch out due to the inability to deliver the product or service on time.
The 360-degree assessment—both for individual leaders and for teams–are key to measuring individual and team alignment through data produced by managers, direct reports, and peers–representing all facets of an organization.
Here is the way it works:
1. Assessment tools provide real time measurable feedback to managers and teams. For the first time, team performance is not just the subjective impressions of a select group of people–numbers tell the whole story.
2. It provides an accurate snapshot of organizational performance for management and boards. Management has had to draw data from a number of sources and interpret the data in highly subjective ways. With measurement assessments, a dashboard of organizational performance–a snapshot of how the organization is doing–is now available to managers.
3. It measures the health of the organization in relation to its ability to achieve outcomes. In previous times organizations did employee satisfaction surveys that measured contentment of employees, without the ability to measure effectiveness. Measurement tools like the 360 degree assessment measure the insights of employees in relation to their ability to accomplish organizational goals.
4. Valid measurement through assessments such as the 360 create individual and team paths to better performance. Organizations often have a clear picture of what the organization must create in the way of revenues. At the same time, management and teams are often extremely unclear as to what individual teams and members must do as individuals and groups to achieve these goals. The 360 creates the path–the gameplan– to accomplish organizational goals.
Successful team alignment is the key to organizational success.
Team alignment drastically reduces organizational expenses through eliminating misdirection, increases effectiveness, and creates a path forward for teams to achieve organizational objectives.