Guest Column | March 8, 2012

Why Do YOU Measure Performance?

Stacey Barr

By Stacey Barr, performance measure specialist, PuMP

Management gurus like Peter Drucker have long since put to bed the idea that measuring performance really does improve performance significantly more than if you don't measure. But this isn't the reason driving most people's participation in performance measurement. Let's look at a few of the most common reasons, and see how compelling they are.

Reason 1: Because you're supposed to.

We've been told to have performance measures by our managers. The Strategy Office expects us to come up with some KPIs to go in the KPI column in the business plan. Everyone else seems to be measuring stuff so we probably should too. Let's just get it done and over with as quickly as we can. What data do we have? Maybe we can throw a few KPIs together real quick...

It is little wonder then, that to many people performance measurement always feels like another corporate hoop to jump through that takes up time they should be spending on their "real work".

Reason 2: To CYA (cover your arse).

Show you're doing lots of work, doing good things, getting heaps of stuff done. Then maybe managers will stop changing things on you all the time, or stop putting pressure on you to work harder, work smarter, streamline this, reengineer that.

All you have to do is to find a few measures that always have positive trends and show how well things are going. Measurement drives behavior, so where do you think people will prioritize their time and attention when they measure the things that are easy to improve?

Reason 3: To manage staff performance.

Everyone has some KPIs in their performance agreements. And targets. That should make it a lot more objective to work out who's performing and who isn't.

And so staff quickly adopts Reason #2 for measuring performance. What happens to overall company/organizational performance then?