Part TWO of TWO

“Nothing requires a rarer intellectual heroism than the willingness to see one’s equation written out.” — George Santayana, American philosopher, poet, and novelist

  • Get teams to develop their own measures. Make sure they’re broad, balanced, and simple. Get the measurement points as close and as immediate to the activities being performed as possible.

    Move your team and organization to a 360-degree performance feedback system — starting with you. 360-degree feedback involves gathering data and performance perceptions from the people reporting to you, the people you serve in the customer/partner chain, your suppliers, and the manager(s) you report to. Your role in helping others on your team move to this approach, is that of a coach. You will provide your performance feedback as one of the many sources for your team and individual members. But your main job, is to help your team and its members gather, understand, digest, and act on the feedback they get from their customers, partners, and anyone reporting to them.

  • Be careful of using market share or competitive indicators too heavily. You could be making great gains in a shrinking market. A high performing leader often doesn’t really care what competitors are up to. He or she is too busy blazing new trails, developing unconventional product extensions/uses, or opening up new markets. Competitors warrant attention and study to ensure that your company isn’t falling behind in key areas, or to figure out how to exploit their weaknesses.

    But too much attention to competitors keeps our focus inside traditional approaches and old (likely outdated) market models. Our company then becomes defined and bounded by industry standards. If it came down to a choice between studying, keeping up with, and trying to outflank our competitors, or knowing our current and potential customer needs so well that we can anticipate market changes and new market opportunities, choose the latter.

  • Benchmarking can be a powerful measurement and improvement tool. This involves finding competitors, processes, or functions that you can use as a point of comparison and learning. Here are a few keys: 
  • Get outside your industry and find comparable processes or functions that are many times more effective than yours.
  • Benchmarking isn’t “corporate tourism”; you benchmark a process, function, or organization with your own set of measurements, process maps, and the like. You’re there to compare and learn, not visit and poke around.
  • Send out the teams that will be making the improvements and changes.
  • Exchange information with the companies you’re benchmarking so you can both learn.
  • If you’re just starting on a rigorous, planned organization improvement effort, don’t benchmark yet. You’re not ready. You need to have well trained teams, clear process maps, and core measurement data before you can effectively compare yourself with anyone else.
  • Have someone study and become an expert in benchmarking, hire a consultant, or use a well-proven approach to benchmarking.
  • Start small and grow the scope of your benchmarking with your experience.

When our son Chris was eight, we always knew exactly where we stood with him. He had two notes. One said “I love Mom/Dad” and the other said, “I don’t love Mom/Dad.” These were posted on the bulletin board in his bedroom according to what he felt we’d earned at that moment. Eventually, we convinced him that love was unconditional. But the example of highly visible and transparent measurement is right on the mark. Too many people in organizations (and relationships) spend a lot of time trying to read mixed messages, or figure out what’s being measured (and valued) and why.