Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Writing is On the Wall

The things that get measured get done.” This is the writing on my office wall, scribbled on a small sheet of paper. A former mentor handed me this note several years ago. He told me to keep the message in a spot where I could see it every day. For me, the message serves as a reminder that if there is no measurement around a task or job, there is a slight chance the task could slip through the cracks.

 There are two major learning points for me this week that will assist me in preventing things from slipping through the “performance crack.” The first point focuses on accountability and measurement. The second point relates to the measurement process and my admission.
            In some groups, there is the unwritten rule of accountability – if you don’t say anything, I won’t say anything. I’ve participated on teams with this attitude. From the audio material I took away four ingredients needed to create a culture of accountability. They are:
  • Clearly articulate the vision
  • Establish measurements for success
  • Establish consequences
  • Provide Feedback
From this list, there are two accountability items I plan to focus on when I return to the office on next week. One, we have to do a better job of establishing consequences in my unit. Some leaders have established consequences in place, and there are others who could care less about consequences. What good is there to have measures in place when people continually miss those measures? I know there is no overnight fix for this problem.
The next “accountability” item is providing feedback.  I’m still surprised to learn that some employees don’t have any idea of their performance within the company. They are hoping they grade out “good” at the end of the year.   Is it their fault? I strongly believe that everyone should take charge of their career, even if that involves requesting feedback from their manager. However, leaders should not wait for the request. We should be proactive and reach out to our team. We should take every opportunity to provide feedback. 
At times I feel I’m too busy to hold my 1-on-1 meetings with my team, but the class dialogue reinforced the importance of such meetings. One of my classmates shared how her previous manager never acknowledged her contributions. I do not want to be that leader. My 1-on-1 meetings are my method for keeping everyone updated on their performance, and acknowledging their contributions. I know the team appreciates and values the feedback.  
      My final learning point is an aha moment or an admission of guilt. We recently completed the annual review process, and my biggest gripe was that I needed a better way of measuring performance. For example, at that beginning of the year we were given the objective - to make the customer happy. As I rolled this objective and others out to my team, I saw the puzzled looks on their faces. How do you make the customer happy?   How do you measure that?  
            I felt like the process was senselessness. And I thought the CEO (Harry) and his team were not concerned about the challenges the mid-level management team faced during the performance review process. Boy, I was wrong.
          I was wrong because my company leadership group is not alone in the struggle to measure accomplishments and performance objectives such as keep the customer happy.
Reading the course material and participating in the class dialogue, I am beginning to understand the challenge that is involved in this task of measuring accomplishments and performance.  I will admit I was surprised to learn that executives are also frustrated with the measurement process. According to Kaplan and Norton (2005), creators of the balanced scorecard system, executives are frustrated that traditional financial accounting measures like return on investment and earnings per share can give misleading signals…(p,172).” So I can imagine the effort executives must make to thoroughly measure performance. Harry, I’m sorry.
             The things that get measured get done.” This message is reminder that talking about measures and accountability is not enough. If I plan to add value to my company, I must have a measurement plan or my own personal scorecard in place.
What are you measuring?

Kaplan, R. S., & Norton, D. R. (2005). The Balanced Scorecard: Measures That Drive Performance. (cover story). Harvard Business Review,
83(7/8), 172-180. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

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