Measuring to Manage

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For most companies the first quarter of the year is employee evaluation time. It's been said that for most people giving a speech in public is one of their most dreaded fears. For most managers the most dreaded fear is giving an employee an evaluation. Most managers would rather be evaluated then to give an evaluation.

Evaluation-time should be the time when supervisors and subordinates sit down and go over past performance based on "measurable" goals and lay out future "measurable" goals for performance improvement.

When the economy was in a down cycle your company or department most likely eliminated (downsized) any employee in the company that wasn’t producing up to the company "standard." What most companies found when they terminated these employees was that the company "standard" was not known by the employee.

The desire to measure is universal! So, why don’t we do more of it? All phases of a business usually are measured: they are just generally measured in a way that buy the time the results are made public it’s too late to make any improvements. In some cases this causes the company tremendous financial hardship.

Most managers agree that employees are their most valuable asset. Therefore, shouldn’t we give them an evaluation system that works? One that measures their performance: daily, weekly, and yearly!

Look at the statistics (measurements) available to the AFL and NFL football teams leading up to the Super Bowl football game. Each team knows the others win, loss record, wins at home vs. on the road, passing statistics, average rushing yards. Think of the statistics available to the players after a game. Every player knows his personal statistics before he leaves the stadium. Number of tackles, interceptions, completions there are all recorded and shared with the players, isn’t this the way your employees should go home after a day at the office. Knowing exactly how they did!

The same measurements you use to evaluate an employee’s daily work can be expanded into their yearly evaluation.  In “sales: it’s generally: number of orders booked, number of dollars per order, sales numbers for the “item of the month,” (doesn’t this also make it the item of the day?) these results can then be measured against the company standard, and an employee can evaluate himself or herself daily.

Once the overall “measurable “goals are set, evaluation becomes a “discussion” as to:

What more can be done in certain areas?

What should be done less in certain areas?

What new things should be started and what should be stopped completely?

In today’s business climate, employees are paid for accomplishments not activities, so those are the areas you want to target with measurements, Clarity is essential. During the evaluation, notes should be taken by both the manager and subordinate, thus at the end of the evaluation there will be no doubt as to what is being measured and how.

With agreed upon measurable goals any employee can give themselves a daily (the best), weekly, or monthly evaluation. Employee’s will then begin to motivate themselves, they will know exactly what it takes to become a success and get promoted through the company’s measurable criteria. People love to win! Shouldn’t we let them know the score as they play?

We generally look at the salesperson as the easiest to measure, but by taking a close look at all company positions, you can evaluate all positions by measurable criteria.

Receptionist: are all calls answered by the 3rd ring?

Human Resources: do new hires in all departments stay longer than your industry average?

Marketing: do marketing campaigns yield the appropriate number of leads?

Accounting: are financial reports available on the date due?

These are just a few examples. A good manager will be able to list many “measurable” goals for their particular department. Employees can also be a good source for measurable criteria.

Goals that are set by using “measurable” criteria and shared with the employee make the dreaded employee evaluation much less stressful. Evaluation time becomes a time for constructive discussion where both the employee’s and company needs are addressed and measurable criteria are discussed for a salary increase and promotions,. Isn’t that what matters most: companies pursuing their goals in harmony with employees pursuing theirs. That’s a win, win for everyone.

Mike Hill is an author, speaker, and senior business partner with Progression Partners.

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