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  • 07 October 2016

Should you measure input or output?

Synopsis

You take pride in your work. You achieve good figures: you are ahead of the set turnover and margin targets. You accept responsibility, you work hard, and you also help make your colleagues successful.

As a result, you walk into the performance review with your supervisor in good spirits. He agrees that your output is excellent. Then you get the wind knocked out of your sails because the dashboard says that you have had an insufficient number of customer visits and you don’t make enough phone calls.

Is this story familiar to you?

I have experienced this exact situation with a previous employer and in various commercial positions. I don’t think I need to tell you that these were not motivating progress evaluations. I have often wondered what exactly is the point of these compulsory stress events.

How I see it

Every person is different. Some people like a lot of attention regarding their input (effort), alongside their measurable output (turnover and margin targets). Others don’t like this; they want to be judged purely on tangible results. So which is the best way?

I am still a great believer in controlling output, but, I can also see the benefits of evaluating your input. How much personal effort did you have to put in to get those results? Not to apportion blame, but to provide insight and knowledge so we can work smarter and more effectively.

At Xelvin, we are currently working on Business Intelligence. Business intelligence is a continuous process by which organisations collect and register data in a targeted manner. They analyse it and apply the resulting information and knowledge to their decision-making processes. Ultimately, they improve the performance of the organisation.

Monitoring your output and using business intelligence as a tool to become even better in your work. What you need to do is record as much data as possible. If you keep on doing this, in the future, you will be able to make even better choices, which will benefit your work and possibly improve your performance even further.

The potential for using business intelligence is endless

It is crucial that you set your goals in advance. If you know your critical indicators, then you know whether you’re on the right track or what things you need to change. E.g. my goal is to get from A to B in 60 minutes. If I know that it is a 60 km drive, my critical indicator is my how fast I drive: I know that I have to maintain an average speed of at least 60 km/hour.

A practical example

At Xelvin, a colleague recently did some research into how we find the people who come to work for us. Do we encounter them on job boards, via schools, from the newspaper, at trade fairs, via colleagues or on social media?

During a set period, we monitored from where the candidates came. Then we could see for ourselves how this worked per region. The result has given us invaluable insight. Now we can make more conscious choices about which channels we can invest our time best when looking for new candidates.

My conclusion

Both my past and present experiences lead me to the conclusion that we need to evaluate both output and input. Output must be quantified, and input should also be examined and used as a tool to allow you to manage your work more effectively and successfully. Work smarter, then you’ll have more time for the nice things in life. Plus, hopefully, your performance appraisals will uplift you in the future rather than cost you energy.