“We already have loads of measures that take lots of effort to gather data on and which result in very few decisions that affect real lasting improvements.”
In the previous two blogs on this theme we discussed how “weasel” words lead to ambiguous views on employee performance and how performance outcomes should be mapped back to clear strategy statements. In the next step we once again take the approach that Stacey Barr devised in her Performance Management process which identifies good practices that lead to identifying appropriate measurements and data that are needed to quantify those selected performance outcomes.
It is tempting for workplace service managers to use brainstorming to engage the various service providers in a collaborative dialogue to identify available data that might help. Stacey points out that although brainstorming can be great at creating new ideas and views it doesn’t work well in producing good workplace measures. The likely result is that long lists of ideas will emerge, many of which on closer analysis, have little proven causative relationship with the outcomes that are sought. Some will relate to actions or activities which (as discussed in the previous blog) actually need to be weeded out.
The approach favoured in Stacey’s process is to engage directly with those individuals who will eventually own the measures and to empower them in their development. Starting with the goals and outcomes, the idea is to focus on what the desired outcomes really mean and whether it is feasible to implement them. Then, select just one or two measures that are clearly relevant to the goals and to resist the temptation of poorly defined measures of dubious relevance to the goals simply because they are easily obtained. Suppose one of the organisation’s goals is to increase collaboration between particular groups. We know from internal information gathering that there are insufficient places for people to collaborate in small groups so we decide to re-purpose some space to provide this work setting. Thereafter we can monitor the utilisation of the space (and other spaces) and gather feedback from users about which work best for the collaboration. It may be that simply providing the space isn’t sufficient to leverage the desired behaviour – there may be all sorts of managerial and cultural reasons why the spaces aren’t used. Hence it is vital to discuss the measures and actions with the business to find the right solutions and measures. For example, we might also look at other IT based indicators such as use of internal information sharing platforms, or a network analysis showing the pattern of email traffic between individuals and teams.
In the performance management of workplaces it is particularly important that the measures should include sensory experiences in addition to directly observable results. This can be done by describing what we want to achieve in terms of smell, sight, taste, hearing and touch. In short, describing the desired experience of all our five senses to which we could add what we wish as a whole body experience. For example our office staff might expect that there are no noticeable smells in the open office but the toilets have a fresh floral odour. These requirements can only be measured by sampling people’s experiences.
For a fuller description of the practicalities, we recommend that you refer to Stacey Barr’s excellent book “Practical Performance Measurement”. We also recommend you look at our IFMA supported Workplace Management Framework.
In the next blog in this series, we will address some of the problems commonly experienced in creating enthusiastic engagement in Performance Management.
Is your workplace strategy measuring workplace performance effectively? Contact a AWA workplace management professional on +44 20 7743 7110 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to book an consultation. Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) are based in London, United Kingdom but now work internationally across the United States of America, Asia and Europe.
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