Feedback. We all need it in order to improve. This is the advantage of performance measurement. It provides tangible feedback in real-time so that everyone can make whatever adjustments may be necessary to meet their metrics.
The primary disadvantage with performance measurement is that it can provide false positive or negative results very easily. The data used to create the performance measurement must be accurate and reflective of the metrics and tasks being evaluated. Here are some more of the pros and cons of performance measurement to consider.
What Are the Pros of Performance Measurement?
1. It can increase the productivity of individuals and teams.
When there are clear goals available, it becomes easier for individuals and teams to strive toward them. This is because there are specific standards and guidelines which are used to measure success.
2. It can identify under-performing individuals and teams.
With a performance measurement process in place, it becomes possible to easily identify under-performing individuals and teams because their output can be directly compared to the output of others using the same chart.
3. It can improve communication.
With accurate performance measurement metrics in place, managers/supervisors and their direct reports have fewer places for miscommunication. Every metric is specifically outlined, with detailed instructions that can lead people to success, so that there is no confusion as to what each person should do.
4. It provides the opportunity to recognize top performers.
Many top performers go unrecognized because their output is averaged into an entire team’s performance. By establishing individualized metrics, it becomes possible to find and recognize the top performers on a team. This creates more chances for an organization to keep its best people.
5. It provides a clear chain of command.
In a performance measurement scenario, everyone has their own role to play. They have their own duties to perform. This eliminates the confusion which can occur sometimes within a team when some people feel like they should be in charge and assume part of a leadership role. Each person and team has a defined space.
What Are the Cons of Performance Measurement?
1. It can lead to decreased levels of output.
Top performers may feel that the implementation of a performance measurement standard is unfair to them. It may also require unskilled or untrained workers to reach metrics that are unattainable at their current level of training. The end result is de-motivation instead of output improvements.
2. It can make communication difficult.
Metrics must be defined by certain key terms and processes. A natural reaction that people have when they encounter something they do not know involves avoidance. This means people will shut down if they do not understand what it being asked of them, which can cause communication breakdowns.
3. It can lead to a lack of commitment.
In order for performance measurement to work, everyone on the team must be “all-in” for the process to work. Any negative commitment to the process will disrupt the metrics for others, which can then create a trickle-down effect for other teams. In time, this creates conflicts between individuals and teams because they are essentially competing with one another instead of working together.
4. It is still judged through subjectivity.
Although there are data points collected that help to make performance management less subjective, there is still a certain human element that is part of the process. If a manager does not like someone, they might create a negative evaluation for that person’s performance even if metrics are being reasonably met. Emotional decisions can also disrupt the data collection process, which can lead people to reach false conclusions.
5. It requires some level of motivation.
One of the fatal flaws of many performance measurement scenarios is that the assumed motivation to follow the standards set is that a worker will want to keep their job. At some level, there will always be some facet of “why should I do this?” for workers. There must be a personal-level benefit involved for those working to achieve the standards that have been set forth in order for this to be a successful process.
The pros and cons of performance measurement show that a carefully managed set of data points, offered with open communication about the benefits of new metrics, can be beneficial to many organizations. Without careful management, the negatives of performance measurement are more likely to be experienced.
Have you been involved in the creation of a performance measurement process? What was the experience like for you?