Posts Tagged action items

Measuring employee performance in collaborative environments

Employee performance measurement was relatively simple in the world of command and control management.  No to be overly simplistic, but basically your manager told you what to do, and when review time came around you were measured on how well you did what you were told.  Think of it this way, in the old days tasks and “action items” were delegated and it was easy to set milestones and measure individual achievement.

The metrics used in this environment were generally well-defined quantifiers that were direct descendants of the production economy.  Employee performance was most often tied to revenue or profit, project status, process or other quantifiable metrics.  Unfortunately, these metrics tended to focus on the accomplishments of the past, not the future potential of the individual or the organisation.

In truly collaborative environments it’s a bit more tricky to measure performance for a variety of reasons.  First, entire processes are changing as the organisation adopts new ways of working.  And when things are in flux, as they often are when healthy collaboration is occurring, it can be difficult to recognise not only who has responsibility for tasks but for entire initiatives.  So how do you keep all that straight?

Here’s the nub: collaboration does not necessarily mean unstructured.  There is a need for process, not only around collaborative decision making but also in the tracking of objectives within the collaborative work flow and the overall effectiveness of the organisation.  Without clearly defined assumptions, responsibilities and goals, leading a collaborative effort can be a lot like coaching kids soccer.  You’ll have 10 people within 5 feet of the ball kicking wildly, but there won’t be a lot of progress made.  So set some ground rules and find a good coach.  But don’t let measurement of these processes form the basis for employee evaluation, as that would put you right back in the trap of measuring something other than desired results.

In summary, don’t resort to the same set of measurements that were appropriate for the manufacturing of widgets.  Take some risks.  Use your performance measurement system to foster and encourage creativity and risk taking, and don’t be afraid to adopt qualitative not quantitative measurements.  Consider that the collaborative quotient of your organisation is linked to the interactions of your people, processes and information systems and give thought to what optimal performance of these interrelated systems might look like; then set your measurements to encourage that state.

For example, the employee performance measurements of the future might contain qualitative measurements of things such as size and relevance of social network, participation in initiatives, innovation index and overall impact on organisational health.

How do you see employee performance measurement evolving?

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