Performance Improvement: ‘What Get’s Measured Gets Improved’

In an article ‘How Sheba Has Improved Its Internal Performance Over 50% Using A Simple System’ the authors describe how the online service marketplace start-up Sheba has dramatically improved its internal team productivity. They go on to outline some of the lessons learnt from Sheba’s experience. Here I’m going to focus on one of those lessons (and the first in the author’s list):

Performance Improvement: ‘What gets measured gets improved’

The authors say ‘Although we talk a lot about data and data-driven insights, most companies scarcely measure their internal team performance. This is a costly mistake. Because when you don’t measure an important metric like the performance of your people, you are likely to miss out on a lot of opportunities to improve’

I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been banging on about how to monitor and measure employee performance for years (and here’s the evidence!). Now, from my understanding of the article – and my very limited understanding of start-ups – I’d assume that Sheba are using some sophisticated software to measure performance but, I’d suggest, their tips for implementation can be used by any manager: Here are a couple of ideas:

Performance Improvement: Develop a system and get buy in from your employees

My experience is that most managers find it relatively easy to measure the quantifiable elements of the job. So, it’s not so hard (with discipline!) to put simple systems in place to measure the elements that relate, for example, to money, deadlines, accuracy, quality, speed and numbers. Typically managers will use data such as sales reports, deadlines, error reports, accuracy reports and so on to measure these parts of the employee’s job. The skill here is to identify what it is you want to measure (the most important elements of the job) and then identify which data sources are best for giving you the information you need. The ‘system’ is then simply a plan describing:

·         What you are measuring

·         How you are measuring this (the data to be collected)

·         When you will undertake this data collection – frequency etc

A little trickier can be putting a system in place to measure the behavioural elements of the employees job – such as how they work as a team member, work with customers, deal with problems, deal with change and so on. What we typically rely upon here are: observation, report back, and third party feedback (read more here)

I’ve developed a simple ‘monitoring plan’ (see here) which managers can then use as a ‘system’ to ensure that those behavioural elements of the job get measured as effectively as the quantifiable elements

You’ll not be surprised, if you’ve read this far, that I’ve also already written about how to get buy-in by involving your employee in monitoring their performance (here)!

Sheba also gives the tips of ‘identifying key metrics’ and ‘finding a tool for collecting comprehensive data’. Now as a manager, the key metrics, I would suggest, are the examples given above (quantifiable and behavioural). The idea, again, is to identify which are these are most important i.e. the areas that will bring the most significant improvements

Performance Improvement: Develop a system to give honest feedback

For me the beauty of measuring and monitoring employee performance is that it enables managers to give feedback on performance that is not only honest but also factual, objective and meaningful. And because it’s factual and objective it’s also fair (a huge issue for many employees). You can read about how to give performance feedback HERE

Performance Improvement: Summary

My experience is that often managers feel uncomfortable measuring their staff’s performance. They seem to think it’s in some way ‘controlling’ or indicative of a lack of trust. I do get that. But, as the report from Sheba highlights, when we fail to measure people’s performance we can miss out on opportunities to improve. My view is we can also miss out on opportunities to give the type of feedback that people tell us again and again that they want – feedback that is factual, objective, fair and meaningful

Performance Improvement and Measuring / Monitoring Employee Performance: Want to read more?

monitoring performanceThen why not take a look at my Kindle book ‘A step-by-step guide to easily and effectively monitoring employee performance’

Just like the ad – this 10 minute guide does just what it says it will do. A useful aid memoire prior to staff appraisals to remind me, as a manager, what I can do to make the process more effective and productive for staff and myself. Logically written, easy to read with relevant work place examples you can follow and relate to – would recommend.

You can check it out on Amazon (and try a sample) HERE

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