June 18, 2009
Operations and IT Consultant
TopicsBooks, Difference, Leadership, Lencioni, Measurability
Regardless of the size of your team or business, you need to know how well you're doing. Everyone wants to be able to have confidence their contribution matters. In Three Signs Of A Miserable Job, Patrick Lencioni explained that immeasurability is the first sign of misery. Employees need to be able to measure their performance themselves and see objective results regarding how they make a difference.
He went on to discuss some constraints on the measurements. First the employee needs the measured behavior to be almost-totally within their control. One example used in the book related to on-time delivery of telephone orders. He concluded this wasn't a good measure for the delivery driver because there were too many other people that could affect the measure, and because they didn't want to potentially incent the driver to break the law or drive recklessly. So for each member of your team, can you boil their job down to a very few actions that are within their control so they can measure their performance? For a software developer, it may be counting and minimizing the number of errors in code delivered to QA. For a customer service person, it may be the number of people who claim they're satisfied when the call is completed, or the number of issues solved without being forwarded. In the book, the author even used the example of measuring the number of times customers to the drive up window smiled.
Another measurement constraint is that your team member needs to be able to do the measuring if at all possible. They get immediate feedback, and they take an active interest in the process. Providing the measurement information becomes part of their job and contributes directly to reducing the misery of an immeasurable job.
If you're like other managers, you may rush to one of many possible erroneous reactions to Lencioni's assertion. First you may think your team's success is too soft or difficult to measure. While the status quo of performance appraisals and annual team goals may work, people actually tend to perform better when they can measure their own performance. It is very rewarding to know for certain at the end of a period of time that you've accomplished your goals. Objective feedback is a great motivator and a great tool for encouraging self management. To truly enable your people to succeed and grow, if you give them an opportunity to measure their own performance, you help them elevate their contribution to the company and delegate that management task partially to your teammates.
Another error may be that you think the overall goal, project completion or revenue targets, are measurement enough. In some cases, with the proper goal and motivation, that may be the case. But even in professional sports, individuals are rewarded on their own accomplishments in addition to the accomplishments of the team.
Be a hero. Help your team self-manage and self-develop by providing objective measurements. Your team will achieve more, faster when given the proper tools and opportunities. Really!
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