Monday, 25 January 2010

What do high performance organisations do differently?

A white paper recently highlighted the importance of metrics in high performance organisations.

Research suggests that high performance organisations excel in managing their people, and are expert in using metrics to gauge the success of their initiatives. Three key differentiators were highlighted:
  1. Metrics are used to assess the success of people-management initiatives
  2. Metrics have a clear owner
  3. Metrics are reported on frequently
In other words, high performance organisations have a data-centric approach to the success of their people. Before they even start out on a project they figure out how to measure success, and carefully determine which metrics will work best.

It’s hardly rocket science, but sometimes challenging to do well, and consistently. It’s also a short, sharp and on-the-money checklist for people and project management.


  1. Another great post, though I feel there's a little space for me to provide a slight counterpoint this time.

    High-performance, fine, but how is it possible to measure a the maximum level of performance which is sustainable over the longer term?

    It is the classic sprinter/marathon runner dichotomy!

    In business metrics can often be used as a way to restrict flexibility in working practice which can have a negative influence restricting employees, so perhaps I could introduce a fourth point regarding the range and relevance of the metrics collected - for discussion purposes, you understand.

    I'm sure you've heard anecdotes about bosses who rigorously enforce exact time-keeping or the like where the saving is not worth the time they lose or the potential loss caused by damaging workplace relations.

    So could I suggest it is important to maintain not just a data-centric approach, but a comprehensive as well as consistent one which doesn't discriminate unfairly between different roles and therefore maintains a people-friendly face.

  2. Hi Oranjepan

    Metrics and data are an additional tool in the toolkit, not an end in themselves. An idiot manager is always going to be an idiot whether or not they are using metrics. However, good managers, who genuinely want to improve overall performance, morale and enthusiasm use metrics to great effect, because everyone knows where they stand and what they need to do.

    The points you make are all too common though. I recently heard of two instances where managers behaved badly in either ignoring metrics (when someone had performed well) or fussing over insignificant metrics.

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