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Leadership, Management

I bet your performance scorecard is green this week!

I was sat in a coffee shop  enjoying a refreshing cuppa,  well on my way to earning my free cup, and reflecting upon what I call nodding dog syndrome. nodding dog

I just have one more stamp to go and then I get a free drink.

The power to comply with the rules and win the bonus is really strong isn’t it.

I know that a free cuppa is not going to change the world, but the principle is sound.

Follow these rules and you can get a prize or a bonus.

I am more likely to go back to get the prize than pass over it. After all I have earned it.

My behaviour has in a small way been affected by the hook of a free drink. The parallels with the working environment are strong.

Let’s take the all important performance data reporting as an example.

image by ddpavumba at FreeDigitalphotos.net

image by ddpavumba at FreeDigitalphotos.net

So the pressure is back on to make the numbers fit the plan. We’re at the end of a quarter and probably already starting to panic about what stories we can make up to cover the slippage or the short fall.

Everyone in the chain is keen to make the numbers look good, and come up with a form of words that will fit the highlight report to show that everything is on track.

Doubtless some of us will also have to remember to log on and fill in the blanks in the computerised software that pulls our performance into the all important dashboard.

Now where did I put my password again?

I have to confess that  I only used to log in to the system once a month because I found it tedious, long winded and unhelpful.

The information didn’t  help me or my team to learn and improve in the work, but because everyone was obliged to fill in the blanks, ( it was in my objectives) audit, and/ or nod through the numbers it becomes an inevitable routine to endure each month.

I can see everyone pawing over the keypad dreaming up fine words, or thinking of who or what they can blame for the problem.

I have asked around and I don’t seem to be in the minority, and yet this is the core system that the organisation uses to monitor performance.

Green tickI’ve been told  that it provides a good audit trail and a narrative that can be pulled out and fed in to the series of important meetings that are held each month to determine that performance is on track. Critical to business performance or so they think!

The trouble is that few people seem to acknowledge that the data keyed in to the system is manipulated to fit the target. The aim here is to make it look ok for the boss.

Bosses like green flags!

If you make it amber or red you need to write an essay on what has gone wrong and how you will put it right, and the boss will have to fill in lots of boxes and answer lots of difficult questions too.

No one wants that do they?

The quarterly one to one review can be a  nightmare if anything is not green.

Image by jscreationzs FreeDigital Photos.net

Image by jscreationzs FreeDigital Photos.net

So, it’s just easier to make it look ok and nod it through. As long as the boxes are populated on time, and are green then everyone is happy.

How can this be the way to do business?

The trouble is that targets  do not help us to understand how effectively we are delivering our service against customer expectation. By this I don’t mean the data from the annual customer poll or the generic customer panel that was run a few months ago.

I am thinking real-time feedback.

The other problem is that by the time the ‘big wigs’ get to view the scorecard the information, even if it was useful, is long out of date –  lagging behind what is really happening at the sharp end.

Making the whole process of questionable value; and a massive waste of time. Time that could be spent in the work with front line colleagues understanding how to improve the system to enable a great service to be delivered every time.

I can remember a time when I had to go and explain why I was behind on a key performance indicator. The meeting took place two months after the data had been prepared rendering the cross-examination pointless.

Image by Master isolated images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Master isolated images FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nevertheless the top brass took turns to ask me very detailed questions about the slippage.

There was no interest in learning or improvement, just a determination to find someone to blame.

I tried to show them a control chart which ably demonstrated that the variance was normal, and therefore  to be expected, but  the meeting turned a little sour.

My hard evidence was unwelcome as it blurred the issue.

Never let the facts get in the way of a good row over data!

We cannot learn anything useful from such an exercise, other than to keep your head down and make the stats go green.

Make it up, do what it takes; find a way to fiddle the numbers.

We are feeding a machine with data like a hungry beast to keep it quiet, not using live data based upon what are customers are asking for in the moment to help us learn and improve at every opportunity.

So, if you want to conform with the current culture  be a nodding dog –  better to keep your head down and make the numbers fits the plan at all costs.

Alternatively, you might be curious about using real data to help deliver excellent services, at lower cost, and to improve the mood and engagement within your team.

As a leader the choice is yours.

We help individuals and teams to purposefully reflect upon their current challenges, and identify practical and pragmatic ways of getting balance back puzzle-solved2.jpginto the demands upon your life, and delivering positive results in life and work.

Our one to one support will help you to cut through to the nub of your personal, and organisational challenges and help you to facilitate a way forward that will give you: –

  • Clarity around the key business issues that you are facing and a clear plan to tackle them
  • New capabilities, and capacity to meet future challenges 
  • Greater personal job satisfaction
  • Strategies to deal more effectively with difficult people or situations in your working life
  • Interim capability to enable you to achieve your goals
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About mushroomgrower

Leadership coach, systems thinker, interim manager, organisational development consultant, corporate director. Walker, motorcyclist, lifelong learner. Living in a very beautiful part of Lancashire with my wife and two fantastic young adults who keep me in tune with life.

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