What Gets Measured Gets Done

This is the Monthly Management Maxims corner of our blog in which we explore some common and sometimes trite-sounding sayings and how they can be effectively applied to management and leadership situations to enhance productivity. We kicked off this corner of our blog last month looking at the expression, “It Is What It Is”. This month we’re looking at how to use measurement to ensure that important activities get done.

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Frequently we find our senior executive clients frustrated that their subordinates do not seem to take their wishes seriously. Do you have these issues?  Here’s an idea that might help. It uses the example of regulatory filings as an activity that needs to be done (and if not done correctly and in a timely manner can lead to costly penalties). Our example also uses regular performance reviews as the measurement vehicle although other, less formal measurement devices could be used as well. The dreaded Annual Review is “hot topic” in human resources management these days. Most managers dislike doing them and so put them off – forever, if possible. Sometimes, HR doesn’t have the clout to force the issue on its own so the process fizzles and dies a long and painful death. (For an interesting perspective on a highly productive annual review process, check out Donald A. Garvin’s article, How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management http://hbr.org/2013/12/how-google-sold-its-engineers-on-management/ar/1 in the December issue of Harvard Business Review).

However, the initial assignment or delegation of responsibilities is only half the requirement. Follow-up is critical for the executive to ensure that his or her wishes are being carried out as expected. If, as senior executive, you wish to ensure that regulatory filings (or any other process) are done on a timely basis, set it up so that it’s part of your own review process with your direct reports and then ensure they do the same with theirs.

Here’s how… First, make it clear to your direct reports that regulatory filings (or other processes) are important and that their performance reviews will include an assessment of their success in submitting complete regulatory filings to the appropriate bodies in a timely manner. Next, suggest to your direct reports that they include a similar assessment in the reviews of THEIR direct reports and so on down the line. When you know that these filings are important to your manager, you will place them high on your priority list. Alternately, when your manager does not follow up, it’s a pretty clear signal that the issue not high on his or her priority list i.e. not important. As you learn that regulatory filings have been completed as required be sure to explicitly recognize the achievement. It doesn’t have to be much; just the acknowledgement that you are aware that this important task was completed properly and that it is appreciated. Delegation is a supervisory activity, not one of abandonment.

Extrapolate from this example to ensure your management team takes other actions that you deem to be important. You will find that “What gets measured gets done!”

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