An article by John Dougan
As leaders, we need our employees to achieve, yet we consistently misinterpret performance as an independent contribution of activity and individual results.
More often than not, we even ignore how those results were achieved and neglect that the way we measure performance has an incredible effect on the way leadership and management are perceived by our employees.
Whilst there should be a key focus on the what (KPIs, activities and direct results), this is not the only way we can assess an individual’s overall contribution.
In sport, if we were to assess a goal scorer every month or season on his goal tally alone, we may find peaks and troughs in core performers. However, if the overall goals of the team are on par or above average within the same period, we should look at other ways that the person has contributed. For example, they may have excelled in assisting goals.
My point is that too often we place emphasis on the WHAT over the HOW.
One irrefutable point is that we are in a time of frequent organisational change– organisational change that has an overwhelming effect on employee performance. In this instance, do we acknowledge those who display agility and acceptance of this change? Do we identify the role these individuals play in helping to support change for high-performers? And do we assess this as improving or stabilising productivity?
Organisations also face many disconnects in ever-present, matrixed responsibilities, as roles have become almost exclusively interdependent. Yet we reward individuals on their personal results – what about those who consciously collaborate to produce team, company and regional results? How do we enable and encourage customer networks? How do we reward interconnectivity, aligned workflow and process improvers?
With all of the information available to our customers (which is often misinformation), knowledge of what is valuable to them is key. This requires access to the right information, and perspective on how that information is relevant at the right time. We need to become knowledge workers, yet we as leaders, often fail to recognise who that knowledge worker or provider is. Is it that we perceive that the skills of a knowledge worker are synonymous with the skills of those who deploy this knowledge to the customer? Again, we consistently reward the deployer of the knowledge and its value, while neglecting the creator.
Clearly there are three components to an overall performer or contributor: firstly, they embrace and encourage change; secondly, they are conscious of their responsibility towards teamwork; and thirdly, they provide productive skills where they are strongest.
If I was to suggest that we should judge individuals not only on their own contribution, but also on the overall value they have added through collaboration, would your assessment of what goals they scored ignore how those goals were assisted?
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