“First, have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve your ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end.” ~ Aristotle
To be effective in any area of life, we must set goals, measure and monitor our progress and make adjustments until we reach our goals. For example, when we monitor our physical health, we visit a doctor and undergo health checks that measure our heart rate, blood pressure, weight, body mass and level of fitness. If any of these areas are not at the level that they should be, we adjust our lifestyle to include moderate exercise, healthy eating, stress management, taking prescribed medication, etc. Over time, we consistently measure our progress and continue to make adjustments until we reach our health goals. It’s often at this point that we pause to celebrate our success and remember that maintaining optimal health depends on whether we continue to measure ourselves against our health goals and make adjustments where needed.
Defining business measures
In the same way, businesses strive to reach strategic goals by consistently monitoring and measuring performance across different areas, including Operations, Sales, Marketing, Finance, Customer Service and Systems. They measure progress periodically and make a generous effort to re-align any areas that deviate from the overarching business objectives. The area that is often neglected or viewed as a lower priority in many businesses is people performance. Business leaders cite different reasons for neglecting this area but the most common is that it is “difficult to define measures for people” and therefore difficult to manage people performance.
As long as a business expects outputs and results from its people, it can apply measures to every person, at every level. Also, the process of managing people performance has evolved over time. People need real-time feedback and it is no longer considered good practice to check in with them once or twice a year regarding their performance. Forward-thinking businesses have adopted processes and systems that are engaging and measure performance frequently and efficiently. They encourage their business leaders to define and meet performance standards collaboratively with their teams.
Neglecting to measure people performance is detrimental to any business.
Some of the risks of not measuring it include the following:
- Low morale and lack of direction: the business is viewed as having no active interest in its people and their growth
- Poor employer brand: risk of losing high performers and unable to attract top talent in the market
- Unrealised business and strategic goals: the sustainability of the business is put at risk
- Lack of insights: no understanding of what’s working/not working and unable to make constructive adjustments or prioritise
- Wasted resources: inappropriate allocation of people, time and money, leading to unrealised goals and lack of sustainability
- No continuous improvement: anything that the business doesn’t measure, can’t be improved
To avoid these negative impacts on your business and help you manage your people effectively, consider the following recommendations:
Understand your business strategy
Understand the broader business context, your business’ objectives within this context, and the role that your team plays in achieving those objectives. The more you understand the broader context as it applies to your business, the better you can measure and manage your people against business goals
Communicate your strategy
Communicate it clearly, concisely and frequently. To quote Albert Einstein, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
Discuss team goals
What does the team need to do to meet business objectives? What is the role of each person in the team?
Discuss individual goals
Have individual discussions with team members to agree and record expectations and aspirations
Measure progress frequently
Frequent performance discussions are important to commend your people on a job well done, address any performance shortfalls, provide support and plan the way forward. Use an efficient system and always provide your people with constructive feedback
Good performance and progress should always be acknowledged. People welcome a simple “thank you” or “well done” from their leaders. Where budget allows you to do more, provide personalised rewards to your high performers
Do you have a great way of measuring and managing the performance of your people?
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