If, in an idle moment, you google performance measurement you will find plenty of useful articles on KPIs and how to set targets, on what to measure and how to measure it. What is less in evidence is the importance of having the right environment in which your performance measurement system can add value.
Organisations spend large amounts of money and a great deal of time setting up and changing existing processes but give less attention to ensuring the operating environment into which they are to be embedded is prepared. True, there are usually briefings to explain what is happening.
There may be working groups to decide how a performance project should proceed, but for the process to yield the best results in terms of signalling direction, monitoring progress and learning from the results of measures, you need commitment from the majority of staff. For this to happen there must be trust between leaders and employees; people need to believe the process is there for the good of the organisation and not just as another means of measuring their personal performance. They need to be aware of the trouble it takes to set up and run is worth the effort, also that the action taken following analysis of the results will be fair and proportionate (no knee jerk reactions if one month’s target is missed).
If trust and commitment are not there it can lead to problems such as “gaming the system”, this is playing with figures, so that they look better in the short term, setting targets that are too easily reachable leading to a lack of risk taking and innovation.
Creating trust is not a quick fix. It is built up over time, over many interactions from major negotiations to very minor conversations. Being transparent isn’t always easy but it is easier if you remember that the overwhelming majority of people want to do the right thing. It is unfortunate that many processes are created to cater for the few who don’t.