Mike Lynn

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Truly Accountable Performance Measures

Truly Accountable Performance Measures

If talent development drives organizational development, and, in turn, culture development, there has to be a new approach that goes beyond regular evaluations and financial measures. When used as part of a clear commitment and strategic focus, team performance measures can supplement the traditional approaches to create a mechanism that puts the drive and the energy at the team level. The results can speak for themselves, and as a more important outcome, the organization will start to move toward meaningful, sustainable change.

I once worked at a global consulting firm that wanted to develop a system for getting a quick snapshot of how well its individual work teams were performing, on an ongoing, real-time basis. The solution that we developed was an automated survey mechanism that let individuals on teams rate their satisfaction and work against strategically and culturally important criteria. The criteria included the belief that their work was meaningful, appropriate involvement with clients, efficiency of the project, impact of the results, work-life balance, etc.. All of these were indicators of how well the firm was matching its posted vision and mission against the actual work being done.

At first, there was appropriate hesitation about creating more surveys and taking more time away from doing the client facing work, but the tool we developed was one that took only a few minutes each week to complete. Scores within each working team were compiled to a comprehensive “team health” score for each individual on the team. These were further synthesized to one team health score for the entire team. As those collective measures were taken weekly and matched up against the same exact measures of other teams, we had a central snapshot of the health of every team. This also gave us a sense of which teams were performing well—or not—on any given week. Over time, that meant we could see trends of which teams were consistent high-performers and meriting celebration and best practice sharing. On the flip side, we could see which ones needed interventions to improve performance and move the scores up. We set high bars for what was distinctive, acceptable, and unacceptable, and teams wore being on the distinctive list as a badge of pride.

We posted the results of the top performers, and certain distinctive managers earned some precious visibility as being the folks you wanted to work with if you wanted to enjoy your job. We didn’t post the low performers with sub-par scores, but we didn’t have to. Hall talk can carry both good and bad messages very far. Everyone knew the managers and teams that they wanted to avoid, if possible. We also learned that the teams that were the high performers posted running charts of the multiple measures within their team rooms. They conducted frequent team huddles to continuously improve their own scores and score higher against other teams. What was measured—the effectiveness of teams in relation to cultural aspirations—was done, and the positive cultural waters started to rise.

It took a commitment to cultural alignment and a strategic, high level perspective to implement this “team barometer” performance measurement system. This is a commitment and high level perspective that many talent leaders might not recognize in their own organizations. As we think about how to measure and drive performance, we should put the power of accountability in the hands of those doing the work.

Stay tuned for Mike’s next blog post which will demonstrate another example of what team performance measurement can look like.

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