Improving the Context of Performance Measurement

In one of my previous posts, Four Keys to Achieving Outstanding Performance Measurement Improvement; Context, Focus, Integration and Interactivity were identified as crucial for the positive transformation to take place and drive business performance.

In this post I will look at the various ways management can use to create a positive measurement context that drives performance measurement and yield the desired results.

With reference to performance measurement, context refers to the performance measurement environment created by the organization. How is performance measurement perceived by your employees and how do they respond emotionally to it? How is performance measurement used in the organization determines how people will respond.

Measurement is experienced much differently when measurement is used to inspect, control, report or manipulate compared to being used to provide feedback. It is therefore important to create an environment where people are energized about measurement as opposed to just complying. Unless management do something about improving the context of performance measurement, much of the potential power of performance measurement will not be recognized.

Why is fostering a positive context of measurement very important? Improving the context of the measurement helps create positive attitudes towards performance measurement. As attitudes are transformed for the better, positives experiences take place, performance measurement becomes highly valued throughout the organization and measurement dysfunction decreases. In order to improve and create this positive context of performance measurement, management must:

  • Make Measurement Relevant: This means clarifying how measurement relates to each individual’s work and making them understand how their actions align with the organization’s strategy, affect their measures and the organizational results.
  • Involve More and More People: Performance measurement is not for certain sections or parts of the organization only. It is for everyone, from the lowest level to the highest level of the organization. Having early adopters lead the adoption of performance measurement, share their experiences and provide guidance often leads to positive transformation, buy-in and more ownership of the measurement process.
  • Use Measurement for Improvement and Learning: Emphasis must be placed on using performance measurement for improvement and learning as opposed to manipulating and controlling. Performance measurement within the organization must serve its positive purpose as opposed to derailing morale and motivation hence it is important to ensure that it is the quality of the processes that is being controlled and not the people. Measurement is essential for effective learning, and learning is essential for effective measurement.
  • Build Trust: Used correctly, performance measurement plays a crucial role of giving management insights that facilitate improvements. The way performance measurement is viewed throughout the organization determines whether the process is trusted or not. For example, if measurement is used to control, monitor and manipulate people, it will not be trusted as an information source. On the contrary, if employees and management view measurement as a motivator for high performance and improvement, then it will become highly valued and trusted throughout the organization.
  • Make Measurement Data Available: One way of evaluating the maturity of the organization’s performance measurement system is its degree of openness and honesty about measurement. Measurement data must not only be made available to a select few individuals, but rather must be made available to whoever wants and needs it within the organization.
  • Provide Measurement Resources: In order to ensure that measurement is important and valued by the organization, management must provide ongoing resources to support performance measurement throughout the organization. These resources can be in the form of funding support, suitable technology or use of external consultants to work with business line people to help focus on the true meaning of measurement and its implications on the overall performance.
  • Walk the Talk: To create a positive environment for measuring performance, measurement leadership is a necessary requisite. High performing organizations with mature performance measurement systems have managed to reach that position because they have invested and continue to invest in someone who is mainly responsible for leading performance measurement throughout the organization.
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