Leadership team

Performance Measures Suck

Tracey Foulkes
Written by Tracey Foulkes

It’s crazy when you think about it, so much bad press for performance measures yet still, our team were deeply diving into creating our own set of measures. Honestly, the wasted man hours of research, writing and then rewriting our plan of action left me in a state of mild panic on Tuesday.

Bottom line…

  1. It didn’t feel happy.
  2. More specifically, measuring performance doesn’t make teams happy.
  3. Taking two hours out of my totally hectic schedule to write a self assessment feels like a waste of time.
  4. Being forced to write 360’s feels inauthentic.
  5. And the cherry, as manager, to have to meet with each of the team for at least an hour to go through this myriad of opinion written by others while feeling unhappy made me flinch.

Let’s back trash slightly, cause there is some happiness involved here.

  • We have clarity on our company goals
  • We have agreed on departmental goals which support our company goals
  • Everyone has documented their individual goals

This albeit time consuming exercise has brought clarity and direction. Clarity equals meaning, meaning links to purpose and this feels happy. Sorted.

But back to the unhappy stuff, the measuring performance.

As a sanity check I pondered the issue, Googled words such as purpose, meaning, performance, incentives, measures and came up with a cacophony of information which started to help clear my head a tad.

Let’s start with the problems shall we:

  • The word MEASURE makes me edgy (in a bad way). It makes me think of scales, and weight and comparing one human against another. I checked in with some if my team … They felt edgy too.
  • The time taken in writing, reviewing and measuring performance feedback is really not worth the ROI. Some companies do it so they can weed out the “b” players, but frankly, we all know who’s not performing or misaligned with their role; why waste time to find out what we already know.
  • Everything about performance measuring (and I’m including the updated versions advocated by the likes if Deloitte, EY, etc), felt forced. Contrived even. A big friggen red flag shouting danger danger, do not enter.

So (exhale), with 3 days to go before we launch our ‘name still to be decided’ programme to our team, we’ve pressed delete on performance measures and gone back to the drawing board … Quite literally.

Here’s what we started playing with (and it feels euphorically happy):

  1. Let’s start with the end in mind … When our programme is up and dancing, what do we want it to do? How should this feel?
  2. What are the problems with traditional performance measures (and I’m not just talking the antiquated stuff)
  3. What is our company purpose?
  4. How can we stay authentic to that purpose and still achieve point 1?
  5. How do we communicate this to the team?

Here’s what we’ve landed on (and we’re still smiling):

  • We shifted our Monday “all hands” to next week. This pressure release gifts us only 5 more play days in an already overflowing week, but what we’re planning is so simple, it feels do-able.
  • We’re no longer going to link performance measures (it now feels crap even typing the words) to incentive bonuses. Bottom line, if we reach our company goals, we’ll reach our financial targets. Note: Incentives bonuses are hard work too (and a moving target), so we decided to ditch those too. We’ll reward our amazing crew in other ways, there’ll be an element of surprise and no more expectation.
  • We’ll be using agile sprints to drive forward individual and departmental goals. We’ll check in daily via our IM stream or in person on Skype.
  • We’ll meet with our managers every second week to check in on our goal progress, and our happiness score.
  • Quarterly we’ll reassess our purpose assignment … If your personal purpose and role purpose are still aligned to the company purpose, we’re on track. If not, we can start exploring solutions
  • 360’s will happen in real time via our team love IM stream. We currently do this weekly but so much is missed … I love that we’ll get to do this constantly. Affirmations are powerful.

And now …

Well now we’re working on how to infuse our excitement throughout the team. We’re designing a one pager (think sparkle and happy) and cheat sheets for those new to sprints, and praise and deep shit like purpose.

I feel drop down in my gut that we’ve hit on a winner by taking this approach.

Ultimately we’re after building teams.

This feels happy.

Happy is good.

About the author

Tracey Foulkes

Tracey Foulkes

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