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So, how do you decide what measures you’ll use to monitor the progress of your employees toward completion of their goals? The answer to this question depends on the nature of the goals themselves. Some goals, for example, can be measured in terms of time, others in terms of units of production, and others in terms of final delivery of a particular work product such as a report that details the results of a competitive analysis for the introduction of a new product.
Here are some examples of goals and the different ways they can be measured:
• Goal: Design and implement a monthly sales report before the end of the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
Measurement: The specific date (e.g., March 31) that the report is first mailed out (time).
• Goal: Increase the quantity of catalog orders processed by each employee from 100 to 125 per day.
Measurement: The exact number of catalog orders processed by the employee each day (quantity).
• Goal: Increase product revenue by 20 percent in fiscal year 2009. Measurement: The total percentage increase in revenue from January 1 through December 31, 2009 (percentage increase).
Remember that while it’s important to acknowledge and reward employees who meet their goals, it’s also important to acknowledge and reward employees who are making steady progress toward meeting goals. For example:
EXECUTION: GETTING THE JOB DONE
• The goal for your line cooks is to avoid food wastage. You might encourage them by posting a large, personally signed thank-you card to your cooks on the employee bulletin board.
• The goal of your property clerks is to increase the average number of inventory transactions from 50 per day to 75 per day. You might consider publicly posting a summary of employees’ daily transaction counts at the end of each week while praising these employees in your weekly department staff meeting.
• The goal for your automobile service representatives is to improve the percentage of “excellent” responses on customer feedback cards by 20 percent. You might consider keeping track of the monthly counts for each service representative and then buy lunch for the rep with the highest total for the month.
Performance measuring is built on a firm foundation of positive feedback. When employees receive positive feedback from their managers for progress made toward achieving a goal, they will be encouraged to work that much harder to achieve it. Giving negative feedback, on the other hand, may backfire. When you give negative feedback by pointing out errors, mistakes, and so on, you are making the mistake of discouraging the behaviors that you don’t want when you should really be encouraging the behavior you want. Consider these examples:
• Instead of measuring this: number of defective printers,
Measure this: number of correctly assembled printers.
• Instead of measuring this: number of weeks late,
Measure this: number of weeks on time.
• Instead of measuring this: quantity of broken widgets,
Measure this: quantity of intact widgets.
Here’s a common question that most managers grapple with: Should the feedback that you provide to employees regarding their performance be public or private?
The Management Bible
Truth be told, the results will be better when you put group performance measures (total revenues, average days sick, etc.) out in the open for everyone to see, but keep individual performance measures (sales performance by employee, tardiness rankings by employee, etc.) private. You want your team to work together to improve its performance. By tracking and publicizing group measures—and then rewarding improvement—you can get the performance you seek.
Do not embarrass your employees or subject them to ridicule by other employees by putting their individual performance out for everyone to see. If there are problems with individual performance, counsel and coach employees privately, and provide additional training and support, as necessary.
OBTAINING IMMEDIATE PERFORMANCE FEEDBACK
It’s up to you and your employees to decide what you measure and the values that you measure against. When designing a system for measuring and monitoring your employees’ performance, consider modeling it after MARS: milestones, actions, relationships, and schedules, as detailed in the following sections.
Setting Your Checkpoints: The Milestones
Goals need a starting point, a finishing point, and points in between that reflect progress from start to finish. Milestones are the key events and markers that tell you and your employees how far along you are on the road to reaching the goals that you’ve established.
Consider the goal of finalizing a new product labeling design in two months. The second milestone along the way to your ultimate goal might be having a draft sketch available for review no later than February 1. If the draft sketch is not submitted until after February 1, you’ll know that the project is running behind schedule. If the sketch is