The Toughest Things to Measure

by Stacey Barr |

Measure Up LinkedIn Group members collaborated with me to create this list of the toughest things to measure in business. What are they and what makes them so tough to measure?

Here they are, the toughest things to measure in business:

  • quality of life
  • creativity
  • value of life
  • sustainability
  • risk management
  • helpfulness to customers
  • responsiveness to customers
  • teamwork
  • compliance
  • collaboration
  • employee morale
  • safety attitudes
  • supervisor/leadership effectiveness
  • workforce development
  • direct impact of consulting
  • impact of initiatives on results
  • training effectiveness
  • happiness
  • culture
  • maturity
  • commitment
  • motivation
  • passion
  • employee engagement
  • business reputation
  • strength/reliability of customer relationships

What makes these so hard to measure?

They aren’t framed as performance results yet. Objects in the list above are still just broad concepts or areas of performance. Before you can measure something, you must frame it as a result that you want to improve or achieve or create.

Secondly, those hard-to-measure things are phrased with weasel words: quality, value, sustainability, responsiveness, effectiveness, collaboration, morale, impact, maturity, engagement, reliability. The result you want to measure must be written in language that describes something you can observe and therefore have evidence of its existence. Weasel words won’t do.

So the problem is not one of measurement, but one of articulation of the results we want to improve or achieve or create. When you can evidence something, you can measure it.

How do you make the seemingly immeasurable become measurable?

You have to change your language and get ultra-clear about the specific performance results that are a priority to you.

What exactly about morale do you want to change? Is it that employees behave more proactively? Or that they talk about the company in a positive way, rather than slagging off at it all the time?

What specifically does training effectiveness mean? Does it mean that after training, employees retain what they learned? Or that they put into practice what they learned? Or that their process performance measures show that by practicing what they learned, process performance is improving? Or does it mean all these things?

Vagueness is the enemy of measurement, but also the enemy of reaching excellence. And vagueness is often the reason why those hard-to-measure things appear to be immeasurable.

JOIN THE DISCUSSION:

What are you struggling to measure, and how could you make it more measurable now? Share your suggestions on the blog.

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