Performance Scorecards

Performance Scorecards
by Richard Y. Chang, Mark W. Morgan

Concise explanation of a performance management system

I’ve never read a better, more concise explanation of a beginning-to-beginning performance evaluation and management system. In fact, I surprised myself by getting a little wrapped up in the storyline of the fictional case study being used to illustrate the steps in the process.

“Page-turner” isn’t a term usually applied to management books, but this one almost deserves it.  The fictional “story” itself is sometimes almost painful — I really wish the authors had consulted a dialogue editor — but the story acts as a thread to connect the key elements and illustrate some of the issues faced when building performance management systems.

The authors’ thesis is that executives and managers spend too much time tracking too many performance indicators, often focusing time on unimportant measures or indicators outside their scope of control. Front-line employees and supervisors are uncertain what they’re being measured against, and feel they are powerless to influence quality or efficiency.

The performance scorecards approach can be initiated at any management level. Through a series of data collection and staff meetings, goals, objectives, indicators, and responsibilities can be agreed upon. Each manager, project, and even many employees can have “scorecards” that interlock with everyone else’s in the organization, reflecting the interdependencies required for organizational success.

There are six key steps in performance scorecards: Collect, Create, Cultivate, Cascade, Connect, and Confirm.

There are strong team-building aspects to this model. Not only does it stress interdependence, it also fosters decentralization of responsibility, authority, and accountability. Further, it encourages openness about results and how they are expressed and communicated.

The process does depend on a quantitative as well as qualitative expression of indicators and results. This may scare off some service organizations. However, the team-based, consensus approach to determining a way to translate the qualitative to the quantitative minimizes the friction and suspicions of “unfairness” in the process.

The process allows no wiggle room for the employee who says that a particular objective or outcome is not measurable. If it’s not measurable, then it shouldn’t be an objective, according to the authors.

The authors are consultants, and they stress the importance of a trained facilitator as part of the process. The investment is well worth the outcomes in employee morale as well as productivity and success in fulfilling a mission and being able to demonstrate it. The book contains numerous illustrations, figures, and a few tools to help the narrative explanation of the process.