“You said the manager-once-removed is in the best position to engage the team member as a mentor,” Brendon asked. “You said the MOR has a realistic assessment of the team member’s performance. I know the MOR has access to the KPIs for the team member, but so do a lot of other people. Why the MOR?”
“KPIs are actually a lousy indicator of performance,” I replied. “The direct manager and the MOR, in their monthly 1-1 coaching discussion should do a 60-second team member review. If there are ten people on the team, that’s 10 minutes.”
“But, how could you review individual KPIs in 60 seconds?” Brendon wanted to know.
“I wouldn’t use KPIs. KPIs are important, to examine throughput of a system, but results, overall, are not in the control of a team member, or an indication of an individual’s performance. I know you subscribe to results-based-performance, but any factors you choose to follow cannot be relied upon in any sustained fashion. At best they will only be a clue, at worst, those factors may mislead.”
“But, we use objective numbers,” Brendon protested. “We manage by measurement.”
“Just because you use a number, does not make it objective. What if you are measuring the wrong thing? You cannot translate a living system into separate discrete factors. You have to account for the whole system, assessment is still a judgement. It is a judgement made by both the direct manager and the MOR.”
“Then how do we make that assessment?” Brendon was curious.
“A series of very simple questions,” I said.
- Is the team member operating satisfactorily within the level of work?
- Is the team member operating in the top half or the bottom half of the level?
- And, in that half, top, middle or bottom?
It is a simple way to state effectiveness. Every manager can answer those questions.
“And if the response is not satisfactory, the diagnosis follows one of these four absolutes –
- Is it a matter of capability?
- Is it a matter of skill (that could be improved by training, education or experience?)
- Is it a matter of interest or passion for the work, does the team member place a high value on the work?
- Is it a matter of required behavior? Is there a violation of contracted behavior? Is there a habit that does not support a required behavior? Is there a violation of our accepted culture (required behaviors)?
“Make the assessment, then diagnose. At best, KPIs are only a clue. Personal effectiveness is a managerial judgement.”