In other words, you get more of what you measure.
“When reward is tied to measured performance, metric fixation invites just this sort of gaming. But metric fixation also leads to a variety of more subtle unintended negative consequences. These include goal displacement, which comes in many varieties: when performance is judged by a few measures, and the stakes are high (keeping one’s job, getting a pay rise or raising the stock price at the time that stock options are vested), people focus on satisfying those measures – often at the expense of other, more important organisational goals that are not measured. “
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to measure something, but this article lays out some of the more common pitfalls, in terms of focusing on the measure and not on overall job performance, as well as demonstrating how it leads to short-term thinking.
I’m reminded of a few places I’ve seen where developing new revenue sources became the be all and end all of performance evaluations, but they were done quarterly. There was zero incentive to work on any project that would take longer than 3 months to come to fruition in terms of revenue. That’s not really ideal.
I’ve also seen the struggle with this in terms of trainers. How do you measure the effectiveness of a trainer who works with your customers? Is it based on feedback when we know very few people will respond to surveys? Is it based on the number and type of support calls coming from that customer post-training? There are a lot of other variables mixed in there. (Are the calls coming from new people who haven’t been trained? Are there more calls because they discovered new features they hadn’t known about because of training that they are now using for the first time?) That is hard to truly measure. It takes more effort to analyze how effective customer training actually is. If we rely solely on one “thing” trainers will end up gravitating to it.
For example, I’ve often joked that the best way to have happy students, likely to leave positive comments, is just to finish class early.
It’s a joke, but there’s truth behind it. Is that what you want your trainers goal to be?
Image by gulfman1