Improve Employee Performance. Measure It!

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Have you ever tried to keep up with every employee behavior that makes up vital operational results for each of your employees? If you have, you know it’s a nearly impossible task. Yet, as impossible as it is, if you want behavior to drive performance and results to improve, an essential step is measuring how well those employee-behaviors are implemented. In addition, you should measure all key performance behaviors frequently!

Yes, I know, it sounds as though I’m asking you to do the impossible, something akin to saying, “Now, I’d like you to stand up and sit down at the same time.” So, if measuring every key performance behavior of every employee is vital to performance improvement — hint, hint, it is — and yet taking so many measurements is nearly impossible, then you’re probably thinking, “Why is this guy writing about something that I can’t do?” To which I say, “patience, grasshopper!”

In this column we will discuss how you can measure important employee-behaviors frequently and see improved results. More importantly, you will learn that employees like to be measured. You will see how you can measure performance in a way that does not cause unhealthy competition. And finally, you will realize all of this can be done without exhausting your time, resources and energy!

A true story

 Jim is the new manager at the fast lube center he was transferred to for about a month. He’s now had time to get to know more about his key staff members, Richie, Justin, Pedro, and Andrea. As always, each employee has strengths and weaknesses. Each employee has likes and dislikes. And while some don’t readily admit it, at first, each employee wants to know how they’re performing in the estimation of the manager.

In his previous management assignments, Jim frequently used in-store contests to improve performance in various aspects of the operation. This included: customer service comments, speed of service, center cleanliness, product and service sales and cost control. In this case, there were a variety of other performance measures but you can develop your own list of performance areas you want to improve.

Every time Jim determined an area needing improvement in previous management assignments he would initiate an in-store contest. The contests seemed like a good idea but they created some undesirable issues. Naturally, each employee worked to out-perform the rest of the staff members instead of improving the performance of the entire operation. This created hard feelings, broken rules and ultimately poor morale for the entire staff.

Of course, the desired result of these in-store contests was to improve results in a particular area of the operation. While the results improved in the short term, the improvements were not maintained after the contest ended and Jim had to deal with the hard feelings that almost always ensue when one team member is rewarded and recognized over all of the other employees. 

Individual measurement

Now in a new store with new staff members and new opportunities, Jim did not want to repeat the morale issues created by his previous attempts at in-store contests. However, Jim did want to improve results in some very important areas of this operation. In one case, it was speed of service. Jim created benchmarks for service times by service duty with vehicle types factored in. The benchmarks were developed with the participation of the entire service team and everyone for each service duty agreed to the resulting service-time-targets.

Now, while you may be thinking, “I don’t want my service staff focused on time. I want service quality to be their aim, remember Jim was facing some particular challenges in his center just as you do in yours. The point I encourage you to focus on is how Jim caused his team to use the data collected. In this case, staff members recorded his or her service-time for each vehicle and by their service assignment over the course of the day. At the end of each day the numbers were averaged, recorded and posted on individual employee charts in the employee-area.

Each employee recorded their own results, by vehicle, and service duty. But what they did with those individual measurements is the most significant factor in this process.

The big difference for employees

The important differences for employees, in this approach to improve the operational results, were these:

·           Employees had their own performance chart. These were posted in the employee-area and updated each day 

·           Individuals — not Jim — maintained their own charts.

·           Employees were measured against their own best previous performance and not against the performance of other employees.

·           Employees recognized their individual improvement or decline versus previous performance, without Jim’s constant involvement.

·           Employees looked forward to completing the daily results and noting improvements.

·           There were no hard feelings as there were with employee versus employee competition.   

The big difference for management

For Jim, there were significant differences in this approach. Here a few of those:

·           The specific performance needing focus was getting the attention it needed without Jim’s constant harping about it.

·           Employees — not Jim — measured their performance on every vehicle.

·           Jim never had to deal with calming hard feelings that come from employee versus employee competitions.

·           Jim, and the customers (because of much shorter stack lines) noted the improved results.

Doing what a manager should be doing 

Jim would note the results on the charts every day. Now he had a valuable tool, which would help build on the improved performance, and provide a list of other benefits that every manager needs, including:

·           Jim could address the improvements of each employee by saying something like, “Andrea, great improvement this week! What do you think the difference is?”

·           Jim could address the need for improvement by saying something like, “Richie, I noticed your numbers took a drop. While I was watching the service, I noticed a couple of things that may help you improve.”

·           Jim could give specific reinforcement to each employee for their performance improvements

You can’t improve what you don’t measure

Do you think a golfer could improve their performance if they didn’t keep score? Could baseball players improve their hitting without knowing their batting average? Can companies improve revenue without measuring sales? It’s simple, you don’t know if there has been improvement if you don’t measure performance results.

It is no different when it comes to improving the specific performance behaviors for each of your employees. Perhaps more importantly, baseball players, golfers, sales professionals and your employees truly want to know how they’re doing as compared to previous efforts.

By implementing this simple change in measuring performance Jim was able to establish a solid foundation for the next steps he would need to take in his overall objective to create a work environment where employees do their best because they want to and not because they have to! Join me next time to find out what Jim and his employees did next.

PAUL HALOULOS is a trade marketing manager for BP Lubricants USA, Inc. He may be reached at: To learn more about Castrol products and programs in general, please call 888.CASTROL or visit:

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