How To Engage Managers To Measure Performance

August 20, 2008 by Stacey Barr

It’s always going to be harder, longer and more painful to embed good performance measurement into an organisation if you don’t engage managers to measure performance, and champion the effort.

Sure, you can get some great traction by introducing performance measurement here and there, to assist a team in measuring the impact of a project, or to solve a known problem in their processes, or to demonstrate the impact they create for the resources they get. But truly embedding performance measurement as an accepted and valued part of doing business is an uphill battle without management support.

You already appreciate that performance measures’ power is helping us to know. Helping us to know objectively and confidently what is *really* happening with our business performance so we can stop wasting time and effort doing the wrong stuff when we show up at work each day. No crystal ball needed!

Do your cagey managers appreciate this too?

If you’re not sure, then here are three tips to strike up a chat that might just plant the seeds for them to see measurement as a fertile idea:

  1. Tip #1: Find out a problem that’s bugging them right now. And ask them, “Is there something you don’t know yet, that if you did know it, you’d be able to do something about this problem?” This problem may be easier to solve if you could measure the thing they don’t know yet.
  2. Tip #2: Ask them, “If you had more time to walk around and find out how our [division] is really performing, what would you want to look for first?” A good performance measure could show them, without the need for them to walk around and see for themselves.
  3. Tip #3: Check if they are getting any pressure to validate their actions or performance to their own managers or stakeholders. Rather than them having to feel defensive or give “hearsay” validation, a couple of good measures can do the job far more convincingly instead.

Can you see that the key is to start with what is relevant to them now, and *not* with anything about measures?

Of course, try variations on these ideas. But the important thing is to try. You have more influence than you think!

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