How do you decide how to measure other people performance?


Photo by Leo Reynolds

Yesterday I read this very interesting manifesto tilted: “Redeeming Sisyphus – Get Out of Control! Get More Done!” by I. Barry Goldberg of Entelechy Partners. Goldberg describes a very interesting thesis. In a nutshell, he claims that most managers deal so much with micromanagement due to their inability trust their employees that they create an atmosphere that reduces creativity and productivity. Goldberg claims managers need to stop delegating (a “I say – you do” thinking behavior) and start passing responsibility and accountability (a “you do – I listen” thinking behavior). He claims that when employees are held accountable for their work, they become much more engaged with they work, thus becoming more creative and productive.

I really like this manifesto and I recommended it with all my heart. I think, at the heart of it, you can see two of the concepts I talk about in my E-book, “Playing It to Excellence and Happiness in Real Life – Five Concepts I Learned by Playing Basketball, Working and just Living”. One, is communicating. Goldberg claims that a manager’s role should be limited to listening to his employees and helping them reach their solutions by themselves. In order to do that, you need to create a very open and productive relationship with your employees – a relationship of trust. This can only be created by communicating a lot with your employees and by adhering to a nuber of simple communication rules. Second, I think the idea is to let your employees do what they are best at and focus on what the manager is best at – managing. When you are trying to be involved in every decision your employees make you sterilize their advantages. A manager today can’t know everything and can’t be an expert in everything. If you are involved in all the decisions, you immediately doom the work of your team to the sad lie of mediocrity, which is a grave danger it today’s world.

But I think the most intriguing part of the manifesto is this:

“The first step in delegating accountability is to understand the vital signs of your business… Be rigorous and clear. Do not get tempted to ooze into soft measures. Not all of a business or project can be measured quantitatively; however, the discipline of defining the critical measures of your business’ health is worth the effort. Refine this down to a set of vital signs that are every bit as indicative of overall health as those your doctor takes at your annual physical. Remember, a vital sign is a numeric value and your vital signs must take in the overall health of the whole body of the business. If the sales levels are positive but turnover in the sales organization is out of control, you will not know about the soon-to-emerge higher recruiting costs and risk. Turnover should be on your list of reportable vital signs”.

Everybody knows saying by Peter Drucker that what isn’t measured does not get managed. But modern economics and behavioral economics, also shows us that if you decide on the wrong measures (or in Goldberg name: “vital signs”) you can create negative incentives. Books like “The Goal” by Eli Goldratt have been saying this for years. So, I believe the challenge of managers in the next few years, especially in the more subtle fields that are hard to measure will be to create the right vital signs. How do you go about doing that? I don’t know. Goldberg doesn’t exactly say either, although he does offer a thinking model to try and locate them. I think if someone will create a good process to identify the vital signs of organizations, he could transform the field of management…