A fresh perspective on performance metrics


I’ve been reading a pretty good book called Transforming Performance Measurement: Rethinking the Way We Measure and Drive Organizational Success and there’s a ton of great ideas in it. I think anyone who is involved in performance management or measuring the success of specific activities in an organization should read this. It has a lot of great tidbits in it but I think one of the really powerful themes touched on in the book is the discussion of the context of the measuring system. In this case, the context is: What are the things that we’re going to use these measurements for?
How successful your performance management or measurement system is going to be has a lot to do with how the people that are being measured by it see the system itself. If they see it as a means of finding problems, punishing non-performance, or generally as a way for management to seek out underachievers and carve them out of the organization; you’re inviting people to undermine the system to the largest degree possible and quite possibly render your performance management system ineffective. The author gives some great examples around this and then talks about what makes a good context for a measurement system.
The key takeaway essentially is that the people involved in it have to see it as a force for change. They have to see it as a mechanism for really understanding the organization and building in higher performance as a stakeholder community. By this I mean they are responsible for bolstering performance, they have a say in it, and the measurements are not being used so much as a mechanism for punishment but as a jumping off point for further investigation. The question then becomes how can we as team or an organization perform better? It’s a really powerful and persuasive argument. You hear all the time to be careful what you measure because that’s what’s going to get done, about the dangers inherent in laying down a measurement system that incentivizes the wrong behavior, or measures for measurements sake; but this was a little bit different spin on things. I thought it was a powerful concept and it’s at the core of whether or not you’re going to be successful because it speaks to the human engagement of all the members of the team that are involved in organizational performance. So I think it’s a great read and if you have a chance, pick it up. I’m always on the lookout for great books like this so if you have a recommendation I’d love to hear it.

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