Monitoring for Effectiveness

Monitoring for Effectiveness
You need to focus simultaneously on results and the effort that produced them

Monitoring is the process of assessing progress in the accomplishment of planned tasks and the achievement of the outcomes desired. Note that this definition of monitoring is not concerned only with results, but also the effort that is needed to bring about the results.
This is a key factor in monitoring. I have often seen in my consulting work undue attention to results without reference to effort. This leaves management without a means of correction for results that fall short of expectations. It is only through effort that constructive changes can be made to produce more favorable outcomes in the future. Here are the main points that should be utilized in the development and implementation of an effective monitoring system.
1) The monitoring system must be put in place before the plan is implemented to ensure that all participants know what is expected of them and when. The expected effort that is intended to produce the planned result is what should be monitored. Results will of course be monitored as well, but reviewing results only without reference to effort will leave managers and employees without a true performance measure.
2) Monitoring should focus on schedule, budget and quality in both results and effort. Being on time and within budget are performance measures that are almost universal in their application to business operations. But so too is quality. Being on time with delivering an unacceptable product is clearly sub par performance. And once again, effort must be measured as well as results.
3) Monitoring should be continuous, not at planned intervals. It has often been said that what gets measured gets done. Therefore, monitoring performance continuously will be a strong incentive to employees to do what is expected of them, continuously.
4) Management must take the position of coach and facilitator, not as judge. In monitoring performance, management should function in a supporting role, helping employees improve their individual work habits and assisting them in problem solving on the job. Any job can be and should be improved wherever possible, and there is usually no one better to do that then the employee who is intimately familiar with the required tasks.
5) Good results require action as well as unfavorable results. So too for effort. It is obvious that poor results and sub par effort requires correction action, but what is less obvious is that excellent results and effort also require management action. Good results must become part of the regular practice of the firm, and policies and procedures must be adjusted to account for changes that bring about improved operations.
6) Finally, monitoring should focus not merely on meeting pre set goals, but in continuous improvement. Managers should constantly assess systems and procedures to be on the lookout for improvement in operations, and employees should be enlisted in this effort as well. Merely meeting pre set goals is no big accomplishment, but exceeding them is.
Performance monitoring will be improved and this will result in improved profitability and growth for those managers and firms who follow these six principles.

Richard Walton, Counselor for SCORE, and President, Enterprise Resource Management Associates, Inc., of Hagerstown, Maryland. Cell phone: 301-462-9850, email: richard@ermacorp.com