The 3 Biggest Mistakes Clients Make Around Performance Measures

Measures are the fundamental tool used in most any enterprise performance management system.  Think of them as the ‘currency’ that delivers valuable information to make informed decisions.  I have had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of clients over the last few years in both the public and private sectors and I consistently observe these clients making the same three mistakes.

The most common mistake is having too many measures.  In fact, many are lost in a ‘blizzard’ of measures that have been developed over time and are tracked on highly complex Excel spreadsheets.  When I ask them how they know these are the ‘right’ measures to be tracking, the typical response is a blank stare.  The simple fact is that they don’t have a framework or logic to systematically identify the most valuable set of process and outcome measures.  The result is an ever-increasing set of disconnected measures.  Trust me, less is more when it comes to top level measures.  The trick is identifying the right ones, but that is a topic for another day.

The second common mistake is having way too much focus on lagging indicators (outcome measures) and not enough focus on leading indicators (process measures).  When a team’s primary focus is on outcomes without a clear understanding of the performance of the processes that most directly impact those outcomes, results typically fall short of expectations.   That’s why most great coaches tell their players ‘focus on the process and the results will improve.’  They get it.

Lastly, even when an organization has a well-developed set of performance measures, they fail to connect those measures directly to the people and teams actually doing the work.  That’s the third most common mistake.   So often, organizations have measures that they track and review on a regular basis, but become frustrated when underperforming measure fail to show progress.  When I ask them if the front line teams performing the process are connected to that measure and are actively working to improve the performance, you can imagine what their answer is. Nope.

The key to successfully using measures to improve your performance starts with avoiding these three most common mistakes.

Jim Clark

Vice President, Professional Services

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