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Getting More Management Support for KPIs

by Stacey Barr, Performance Management Specialist, Stacey Barr Pty LtdWednesday, December 23, 2009

Sometimes the bottleneck to getting things done—like establishing meaningful and useful performance measures—is not lack of time or lack of technology, or lack of a good reason. Sometimes the bottleneck can be the very people that should be championing and leading the performance measurement charge: the leaders (or managers) of the organisation.

Here are some tips to help you open that bottleneck a little more so it can flow!

Tip #1: Understand the real reasons for their reluctance for performance measures

For whatever reasons, managers and executives can be quite averse to measuring performance.

It might be that they are pretty content with the position they’ve reached without the aide of measures. Or perhaps they—like so many others—have been burned by measures in the past, such as missing out on a promotion or a bonus on account of some dubious indicators of their performance.

Maybe they believe that being a good manager or leader means knowing what’s going on through experience, good intuition and gut feel.
And then there’s the chance that they are just so encumbered by the tyranny of the urgent that any time they can find in between fighting fires and dealing with crises they desperately need just to catch their breath, and if they’re lucky, wolf down some lunch.

And let’s be honest, performance measures are just not sexy! Most people think “Boring!”

So how can you find out the real reasons that your managers or executives aren’t currently able to give any energy to measuring performance?

Tip #2: Be prepared to do something for them, before asking for their support

If they don’t have the capacity—either physical or mental or emotional—to take on the notion of performance measures, then what can you do to alleviate their load, to start creating the space for them to consider it?

Find out what their biggest problems are, what’s keeping them up at night and taking their attention off their priorities. Consider how you can help them solve these problems. If you do it with sincerity, it can help you to build more of the trust you’ll need from them to let performance measurement into their space.

And really, most problems that managers face are performance related anyway. You could use a good, robust but simple approach to using measurement to help them define their problem clearly, assess the real size of the problem, and find causes and potential solutions.

Tip #3: Demonstrate the impact with a run on the board

Do you have to get the full support of management before you can use performance measures to improve performance at all?

That’s almost like asking, do you have to get management support before you can use your computer to do your work! Like a computer, performance measures are tools to get the job done.

So where in your organisation could you find a few friendly people, ready, willing and able to use performance measures to solve a performance challenge? What impact could helping these people have on the organisation? Could this be the kind of opportunity that truly demonstrates the value that good performance measurement can have for your organisation?

When you find such an opportunity, carefully plan how you will develop and use measures to solve the problem, and how you will present and communicate the results so they truly get the attention of the managers you wish to elicit support from.

One manager wanted to share with his fellow executives just how out of control performance reporting was in his company, so took along to a management meeting a copy of every different cycle time report that was produced throughout the company—in a wheelbarrow! It is possible to be more engaging than a PowerPoint presentation!

About the author:

Stacey Barr is a specialist in organisational performance measurement, helping corporate planners, improvement officers, business analysts and performance measurement officers confidently facilitate their organisation to create and use meaningful performance measures with lots of buy-in.
Sign up for Stacey’s free email tips at www.staceybarr.com/202tips.html and receive a complimentary copy of her renowned e-book “202 Tips for Performance Measurement”.


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