Most companies will gather and use data as a source for deciding how they’re going to be making decisions about how the future will look for them. But data gathering is the result of a process, a process designed by a human (or several in some cases) and so is subject to prejudices creeping in and colouring the data that flows from the process.
In most cases the person who designs the process for gathering the data is not the one who’s being measured or the one who’s work output is being measured. Its really easy to ask questions about someone else but not so easy to have them asked of you. The result is those being scrutinised will be looking for safety, looking to feel unexposed.
This cannot be avoided, its driven into us from a really early age. From the moment we can understand the rudiments of whats going on around us we are exposed to people demanding we ‘fit-in’, conform to the norm or more accurately dont stand out! And so when confronted with data about our performance in the workplace instead of feeling ‘hey that’s so great, I know what I’m doing really well and I also know where I need to improve’ we actually feel relieved about what we do well and try to think up excuses (we’ll call them reasons but they’re excuses really) to explain the under-performance.
So the system will be weakened by those who wont own-up to their own perceived failures because they’re too busy being defensive. A process that promotes fear will only ever lead to a system that isn’t able to learn, that isn’t able to change, that isn’t able to adapt.
Organisations that dont learn and adapt will die, its a plain fact of commercial and organisational life.
We as leaders have to recognise this and develop strategies and tactics which cope with the fear and allow those who may be able to develop and grow and so improve the organisational performance as a consequence the space to do this without the fear of consequences.
The failing after all is in the process and system not the person, they are there to learn, do and contribute. But if you make a person centred failure they will be forever in fear.
The best kind of measure is about being able to measure our performance against ourselves, being the best version of you that you can be is the only best that can be honestly asked of you. Comparison to another or a metric may give an indication but will only ever be that and will never be a way of guaranteeing the best a person can be.
Think about it, what do you require of your people, to be better than someone else or to be the best they can be?