Transforming Fear to Joy

I find it interesting that in the business world we still debate what, as well as how, to measure individual performance.  This is a main reason why I never wanted a career in management.  Although I am a good team player and collaborate well with others, I am not interested in being responsible for someone else’s results nor in spending my creative time ensuring other people’s performance is measured.   Ask most managers if they enjoy performance measurement and they usually respond with a grimace — a solid indication (performance metric) that most currently used measurement systems are less than humane.

In a self-managed workplace environment, the team — as part of their work process cycle — gather performance metrics.  Numerical or quantifiable performance measures are applied to widget production or error reduction, not to individual performance.  Frankly, knowing that someone has been present and on-time for 200 of 200 working days does not tell me if they are productive, creative contributors to the organization’s mission and results.  Furthermore, as individuals we typically know if we are pulling our weight and taking on a fair share of the workload.  Rather than getting ensnarled in the number crunching of people’s performance, creating a trusting relationship with colleagues and reports allows two-way feedback to flow on a day-to-day basis.

As Dick Grote expounds in, The Myth of Performance Metrics, “people generally want to know their supervisor’s opinion of their performance.  They want honest answers to their most important questions:  How am I doing?  Are you pleased with my work?  Do I have a bright future here?”  However, these questions are not answerable in a quarterly or annual process or by numbers alone.   They require observation, engagement and thoughtful responsiveness, which fall under coaching and development — not performance measurement.

In my experience, if an enterprise develops a collaborative coaching culture, the action emphasis stays on product/service innovation and improvement and measuring people performance becomes irrelevant.

Which enterprise would you want to be a member of – one that measures people performance? or widget production/error reduction?  What actions do you take when you know you are not pulling your weight on the job?