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The Secret To Get Buy-In To Performance Measurement

by Stacey Barr, Performance Management Specialist, Stacey Barr Pty LtdWednesday, March 9, 2011

Michelle and her colleagues in the Strategy Team had been asked by their Executive Directors to develop some performance measures for the Corporate Plan. So they did their research, they engaged a few experts, and they presented the Executive Team with what was actually a pretty sophisticated and well-aligned suite of performance measures for that Corporate Plan.

The Executive Directors hated them. They complained that they were all too academic, measured things well outside their control and rejected them altogether.

For over a year Michelle and the Strategy Team worked to find a set of performance measures the Executive Directors would accept, and to no avail. With the help of a little external pressure to get that Corporate Plan measured, they eventually got the okay to bring in a consultant (yours truly) to facilitate the Executive Directors to craft their own suite of performance measures.

During the workshop, we systematically discussed each of the Corporate Goals and what the important results were that they would see if the Goals were successfully achieved. We discussed the evidence of those results and the Executive Directors suggested potential measures, evaluated them, and then chose between one and three measures for each Goal.

The measures the Executive Directors selected were very, very similar to the measures that Michelle and the Strategy Team had been recommending for the past year!

What happened? I certainly didn’t have any magical influence over the Executive Directors’ choice of measures. Something else was going on, and that “something else” is the secret to buy-in and engagement in performance measurement:

For someone to buy-in and have ownership of performance measures, they have to be personally and actively part of the dialogue that designs, discusses and decides on those measures.

Don’t give people measures. Give them time and space to discuss the real meaning of the results they are to achieve, and to design and select the measures they believe are the most meaningful and feasible.

The sophistication of your performance measures is not nearly as important as people’s ownership of them. You can improve the sophistication when people have ownership, but it’s much harder to increase ownership of measures that they didn’t take a hand in creating.


Rather than putting effort into selling a suite of measures, put that same effort into involving people in a workshop to design their own measures. There is one simple but very transformational tool I can suggest to help you do this: Designing Meaningful Performance Measures How-to Kit, which will help you design and run a measure design workshop just like the one I ran for the Executive Directors in this story.

About the Author

Stacey BarrStacey Barr is a specialist in performance measurement, helping people to move their business or organization’s performance from where it is, to where they want it to be.

Sign up for Stacey’s free email newsletter at www.staceybarr.com/202tips.html  to receive your complimentary copy of her e-book “202 Tips for Performance Measurement.”
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