Strategic HR

Company Culture’s Impact on Constructive Performance Measurement

by Mark Robinson, Cofounder of Kimble

Human Resource (HR) professionals are often put in situations where they are required to balance the needs and wants of employees as well as those of the overall company. While the needs of a company are important, employees are the key reason as to why companies are successful, which means their ability to deliver results while being happy in their role is the ultimate goal.

culture

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Performance measurement is a powerful tool that can deliver focus, alignment, accountability, and drive a company’s growth but one that is often overlooked. Developing a performance measurement is key to a company’s performance, while also increasing employee loyalty and productivity.

Top Down

Performance measurement starts with the leadership team. Leading by example and committing to a performance metric shows the support leadership teams have for HR and in-turn encourages employees to adjust to this metric. One way for leadership to demonstrate support is by opening themselves up to a 360-degree review. If a leader is willing to take constructive feedback in a structured manner from people on their team, others will be confident that the company takes performance measurement seriously.

Leadership must also set a clear strategy that connects performance measurement with growth. If there is not set a clear strategy, then it is infinitely more difficult to align performance measurement with strategic goals.  It is crucial to have a clear cause and effect of measuring performance.  Sometimes companies are not measuring the right task or goal so it is no surprise that performance measurement implementations can fail.  HR plays an important role to ensure there is a clear link between measurement and reward.

Measure What Matters

Too often performance measurements try to measure too many elements, some of which may not be useful to measure. The perception of gathering data for no concrete purpose may cause concern for managers and employees which may lead to a failed measurement strategy.  By having meaningful measurements that are in line with a company’s strategy, culture, or values allows for certain behavior to be driven and/or improvements in performance to be made.

For example, if a company’s overall goal is to increase profitability, a relevant metric for a sales manager may be to increase sales by 25% to support this company-wide initiative. HR should help all employees recognize that measurement plays a key role in improving the overall performance of the company as well as personal and professional development for each individual.

Don’t Play the Blame Game

One of the most important cultural aspects to consider is that performance measurement must not be used to blame individuals. It should be used to measure progress, which can in turn be used to improve and help find solutions to the challenges companies, teams, or individuals face.  It is unlikely that an individual goes into work every day wanting to under deliver against their personal or team goals. Barriers, such as management style and bureaucracy, can prevent individuals from performing at their best.

For example, if an employee’s performance is below average, it may be because too much of his or her time is spent doing administrative tasks that could be automated, rather than focusing on work that connects directly to business performance.  Before rushing to judgement of someone’s performance, managers need to consider what they could have done to help their employees perform better. HR should encourage leaders to approach performance measurement in the context of helping employees improve performance, not judging them.

Addressing the Right Issues

Company culture around performance measurement should help managers identity the root causes of any issues that are road blocks to performance. Finding a quick fix to an issue can patch it for a little while but it will rarely lead to a long-term solution. For example, if an employee is experiencing burnout, instead of a manager reassigning tasks among the team, there needs to be a wider discussion about responsibilities and ownership so everyone on the team is set up for success.

Three questions HR professionals can ask themselves or their peers to identify the root of the issues that may be hindering performance are:

  • What is performance doing relative to what we want it to do?
  • Why is it doing that?
  • How can we improve that?

HR should encourage decision makers to inquire and learn about how to improve the performance rather than blame someone or something for it. After investigating the situation, HR can effectively provide recommendations to find sustainable solutions.

Moving Forward

Effective performance measurement creates time and space for better decision making and company growth. If HR professionals can focus on measuring the things that truly matter, align employees around relevant strategic goals, spread accountability throughout the organization, and take real action to improve—then both the company and employees will benefit.

Mark Robinson is a Cofounder of Kimble, the world leading SaaS solution which enables forward thinking Professional Services firms to manage their entire business process and accelerate their growth. He has over 30 years of experience in the IT industry and is a serial entrepreneur. He started his career in management consulting before working for Oracle Corporation where he witnessed first-hand their rise from start-up to software giant. He started his first IT Consultancy Company, Fulcrum Solutions, in 1997 and cofounded IT consultancy Edenbrook in 2001.