Good Job! But Based on What?

continuous improvement employee engagement employee experience how to create a positive work environment leadership culture performance positive work environment productivity profitability team leadership May 10, 2022
How to Create a Positive Work Environment

As I think back to the nearly two decades I worked in a manufacturing facility, it seems like we measured everything! If you’ve ever been through an ISO-9000 audit, or whatever the number is now (it was TS-16949 in the automotive manufacturing world as recently as eight years ago), you know there’s a process or procedure that tells you how you need to follow every single process or procedure… And believe it or not, I’m completely serious! 

As we worked to implement various Lean Manufacturing initiatives (we referred to it as the “Toyota Production System” since Toyota had all but taken over the auto industry at that point), we added these nifty bulletin boards to the end of each assembly line or work area where we posted all sorts of charts and graphs that were to be updated hourly with the idea that anyone could tell exactly what had been accomplished at just about any moment in time. There was a spot for recording scrap, total units produced, downtime, unicorn sightings, safety issues, and basically anything else you could imagine! OK, you got me… There was no actual graph to record unicorn sightings, but it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if it had been suggested!

While I’m not about to suggest that measuring what gets done or how well it gets done is a bad thing, the biggest issue I see as I think back to all that boils down to how little all those things actually tied back to what any individual did at any given moment of their day. I’ve heard it said over and over that “what gets measured gets done” but shouldn't we be able to make some kind of connection from those measurements to the behaviors we’re expected to perform?

If we really want to make sure working for us doesn’t suck, one thing we can work to do is provide our team members with a very clear way of knowing whether or not they’re doing a good job; a simple way of measuring the impact of what they do… Let’s face it, having someone tell us we’ve done a good job offers very little value if we don’t know what it’s based on. And the more abstract the measurement, or the more indirectly that measurement is tied to an end result, the tougher it is to say “Good Job!” and have it really mean anything.

In The Truth About Employee Engagement, Patrick Lencioni (who will be one of the 2022 Live2Lead speakers) shares some ideas on working with team members to identify the specific things THEY can measure on a daily basis for immediate feedback on their performance. While that approach may not fit the ISO or Lean methodology, it can absolutely give each of our team members an accurate understanding of how effective they truly are. The key with this lies in making sure the things they’re measuring do tie back to what the department or organization need, and that will require some very intentional thought - from us and from them. But having that in place can be a great first step toward making sure working for us doesn’t suck. Then we need to make sure they know exactly why what they’re measuring matters, so we’ll work on that next time…