Is your organization a Dust Collector, Compliance Officer, or Coach? Ideally, your approach to data management results in desired outcomes, such as improved performance, increased funding, and improved public relations. Has this been your experience? Or are you like many organizations that have spent countless resources on software and measurement systems, only to find the same issues and outcomes? Meaningful outputs, outcomes, dashboards and performance reports are critical components, but alone do not guarantee success.

Success requires action. It is the actions taken after the data are gathered that drives organizational change. I have observed three types of organizations when it comes to their use of performance measures. All have quality and meaningful measures, however the impact of these initiatives are vastly different.

1. The Dust Collectors/Recyclers – These organizations have the latest IT systems, data collection efforts, report analysis, and fancy performance reports. These costly reports are distributed to key stakeholders and may even be presented at monthly or quarterly meetings. After an initial review, then information is filed away and forgotten about until the next performance report is distributed.

On the surface, these organizations appear to be very sophisticated in their performance measurement approach; however, they rarely experience significant change or improvement. The Dust Collectors’ measurement efforts are not perceived as part of their everyday business. Often employees are unaware that the information they input daily is even being analyzed.

2. The Compliance Officer/Ruler Whackers – These organizations are similar to the teacher using the ruler to discipline misbehaving children. They eagerly use their performance reports; however their approach is punitive. Staff view these initiatives as ways to “get them” or make sure employees “toe the line”.

Improvements can occur, but it is at the cost of employee morale. Employees of the Compliance Officers begin to focus on ways to improve the numbers regardless of the organizational mission or desired outcomes. In some cases, staff engage in counterproductive behaviors in order to improve the numbers, such as misrepresenting the figures or refusing to deal with certain cases or issues that might bring their numbers down.

3. The Coaches/Motivators – The performance measurement initiatives of these organizations lead to desired results. Regardless of the structure of the measurement system, the efforts are embedded in a strong measurement culture. The Coaches view their measures as a positive management tool. Leaders use the information to tell the organization’s story and consistently communicate the value of these measures to staff.

Employees are confident these measures will not be used for punitive purposes. They eagerly strive to identify the reasons for performance issues and look for new and innovative ways to address problems. The Coaches experience the fastest improvements and the most return on investments for their performance measurement efforts.  Are you a coach?  Are your actions (or inactions) limiting or enhancing your desired organizational outcomes? Avoid a significant waste of resources. Prior to developing and establishing performance measurement systems, plan how and for what purpose the measures will be used. Delay your performance measurement path until management is willing and able to commit to using the measures as a positive and vital management tool that will be intertwined with decision making.

If you are looking to become a “coach”-like organization and create a high-performance measurement culture, Measurement Resources is here to help! We can help you align your mission, your measures, and your culture. Our favorite part is to celebrate our clients’ success on their increased impact on the world! We’d love to help you make data-driven decisions with confidence. Contact us today for your free 20 minute strategy session to discuss your organization’s ideal approach to data management.

Want more information on how to increase funding, morale, positive press, and organizational impact? Join the Achieving Excellence Community and receive our free eBook, Ten Tips to Open the Door to More Grants (and Other Funding): Overcoming Common Mistakes in Outcomes Measurement.  Just enter your information in the box on the top right of this page and it will be sent directly to you!