If you read my column recently, you’ll notice that I appear to be stuck on a certain metaphor. Read what you want into it, and you’ll probably be right. While I find these images familiar and identify all too well with them, I do find solace in knowing that I’m not alone. But the reason I mention them here is not because I’m some type of masochist, but because they strike big chord for me in improving the performance management process. Stay with me, and I think you’ll see the connection.
Ok- here’s the scene- you’ve all probably seen the commercial. The guy gets on the scale, weighs himself, then runs around the gym for about 10 seconds, and weighs himself again. The commercial ends with the overweight gentleman expressing complete and utter frustration that he had not lost any weight. After all, he’s exercised for a whole 10 seconds! I’m not sure why we find these types of commercials amusing, but it’s probably because if you’ve ever battled to lose weight, you’ve probably done the same thing.
How does this apply to the workplace you ask? Take a look around you. Where have you seen that compulsive cycle of wasteful effort? (Hint: it’s not in your boss or your co-worker’s weight loss program). How about on your balanced scorecard? Or in your management incentive plan? Measures like ROE, or Share Price, or CapEx? OSHA or related macro-level Safety indicators?
While we should all be measuring these things, we must be smart in how we apply them internally.
And that’s the message for today. Look hard at what you’re reporting, to whom you are reporting it, why you are reporting it, who you’re holding accountable for changing it, and how often you could reasonably expect a significant or meaningful change in the indicator.
All to often, we report indicators to people that either have little control over them, or whose ability it affect performance has a “change cycle” well beyond your reporting period. Most people in the organization cannot change share price, ROE, or their safety record overnight, or even monthly. What they can do is manage the drivers of these indicators. Drivers that do in fact change daily, weekly, or monthly.
So before you publish another weekly or monthly performance report, ask yourself if you’re really reporting things your employees can manage on that frequency, or if you’re trying to manage a long term indicator that the organization has little immediate control over. The answer may surprise you.
Author: Bob Champagne is Managing Partner of onVector Consulting Group, a privately held international management consulting organization specializing in the design and deployment of Performance Management tools, systems, and solutions. Bob has over 25 years of Performance Management experience and has consulted with hundreds of companies across numerous industries and geographies. Bob can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author: Bob Champagne is Chairman and CEO of ePerformance Group International LLC, a privately held company specializing in performance management systems and solutions. Included in ePGI’s product portfolio are a wide variety of performance tracking, reporting, and benchmarking solutions delivered in an online and on-demand environment. ePGI’s services are utilized by over 50 leading edge companies across numerous industries and geographies, and are licensed by many high profile consultants committed to delivering world class PM solutions to their clients. Visit ePGI at http://www.epgintl.com or contact us directly at 973-343-2806.