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Practice 4: Measure the Right Performance Standards and Do It Rigorously

6 October, 2015 - 11:51

It is a skill to link desired results and goals with standards and metrics of performance. If a performance standard is done well, achievement of that standard will realize the results being sought. Designing realistic timetables and appropriate performance standards is not easy to do well, and it is particularly difficult for large, complicated projects. And for those change initiatives that have an extended time horizon, intermediate milestones must be set with care. Nonetheless, rigorous standard setting is an essential activity if an accountable culture is being sought.  1

Clearly, performance measures need to be balanced or else the organization risks becoming unbalanced. Consequently, this suggests that multiple performance standards are required. However, if the performance standards are too numerous, then assessing performance is no longer possible. Overall, focusing on a relatively few, balanced performance standards works best for making the organization more accountable. 2

When designing performance standards, it is sometimes helpful to distinguish between ends and means standards. When the strategic goals are established and measureable, then metrics that focus on the end result are most appropriate. However, when the strategic goals are changing and not easily measured, then metrics that focus on the means for bringing about the change are most appropriate. In either case, however, measurements can and should be applied.  3

Finally, most people assume that utilizing performance standards implies a bureaucratic organization; however, this does not have to be the case. Accountability can be achieved in nonhierarchical organizational structures when it comes from within the employee or is reviewed in nonbureaucratic ways. 4