How To Make Your Performance Measurement Plan Realistic

August 5, 2008 by Stacey Barr

Haste makes waste, they say. And you can see it plain as day in how many organisations go about measuring performance.

They tack a brainstorming session onto the annual planning workshop and wonder why the measures they end up with aren’t relevant to their goals, why no-one really has ownership of the measures, why the measures don’t bring insight to decision making. Measurement is a process, not an event! It’s a process that takes time and effort to do properly. And it’s one of those things that you’re better off not doing at all if you don’t do it properly.

Make your performance measurement plan realistic, by allowing time for the most important parts of the experience:

  1. Tip #1: Allow time for people to discuss and translate the organisation’s strategy into measurable results. Usually people don’t have a shared and sensory understanding of the strategy, and need to talk about it in language that helps them see it, hear it, feel it. Language is the difference between a goal that is measurable and one that is immeasurable.
  2. Tip #2: Keep the momentum flowing by focusing on practice, not perfection. What matters much more than precise measures is how people feel about measuring. When they feel more confident and engaged in measuring, then the choice of measures will improve a little further down the road.
  3. Tip #3: Forget consultation. Instead, schedule meetings or mini workshops for people to circle around a table and have a real dialogue about what matters enough to measure. Unprecidented buy-in is the great reward you’ll get for your trouble.
  4. Tip #4: Remember that it takes time to clearly define how each measure should be implemented. It takes time to find where the data is, to set up new data collection processes, to extract data from systems, and to analyse it. Technology can make it faster and easier, but it can still only do what it’s told.
  5. Tip #5: Let it be iterative. You won’t get a complete and perfect set of measures first time through. Practice, not perfection. Did I say that already? Hmm – it must be important.

Performance measurement, done properly, is transformative. But getting to that place where you are doing it well is a transformation in itself. Allow time for people to move through that transformation.

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