Paul Hebert, 2015

Paul Hebert | Founding Member, HRExaminer Editorial Advisory Board

What Gets Measured Gets Done – The Disconnect Between Management and Engagement

HR is at the intersection of a lot of change. Change in the way that HR is managed. Change in the way that HR is tracked. Change in the way that HR is perceived by the rest of the organization and by the executive suite. And not only is there a tremendous amount of change going on inside the walls of the organization and with the employee base that falls on the shoulders of HR there’s the same, if not more change going on externally, in the marketplace. From quarter to quarter, year to year, companies are pivoting and changing. Keeping up with new business models created at the drop of hat keep HR scrambling to support new employee skill sets and new marketing plans. What we relied on last month is old news. What we will rely on in two months is unknown.

While we update our marketing and business plans monthly/quarterly we continue to manage people pretty much in the same way we did 50 years ago. We rely on annual performance reviews. Even when performance requirements change monthly or quarterly. We allocate raises and bonuses based on annual budgets that have no connection to the constantly changing quarterly business results. We change our iPhones and our android phones apps weekly, but we have a hard time changing the way we engage with our employees even after 10 or 20 years.

What Gets Measured Gets Done

An old saw. And too true.

One of the biggest issues with how we manage and engage our employees is the fact that we measure managers on everything except engagement.

I was a manager. I was never asked how well I’m managing my people. I was never ranked based on my turnover. I was never reprimanded if someone sucked at their job. I just fired them and moved on. (Well – not me particularly – but others, right?) When I talk about managers I mean that in the purest sense those people who are responsible for the outputs of other human beings.

We still have a 1950s definition of management of control. You know – your college Business 101 definition – Managers planned, organized, directed, controlled. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are important to the overall function and success of any organization. What they aren’t, is important to the success and function of the human beings responsible for those outcomes.

Currently most managers are measured on departmental and functional outputs. They are measured on the number of quality leads, or the number of error-free TPS reports, or the number of widgets that meet quality standards. Managers are measured on the output of their functional area. And as an employee when your manager is tasked with, and paid, based on the statistics AROUND the job, then they have created a transactional relationship between you as an employee and them as a manager. And you don’t owe them any more engagement than they are showing you.

Managers as Mentors

But the industrial age is over. We are in the human age. We’ve shifted to human beings and their unique capabilities such as innovation, problem solving, pattern recognition as the true drivers of business performance. We need to stop measuring managers based on functional department outputs and start measuring them on the success of the human beings under their charge.

What I mean is managers should be measured on how engaged their employees are with the company, with their jobs and with their lives. Managers should be measured on how well their employees succeed and not solely on their quality widget productions.

How many managers truly get promoted because their employees were promoted?

How many managers get a raise because their employees learned new skills and contribute at a greater level to overall organizational success?

How much of what a manager gets recognized for is directly related to the growth of the individuals that report to them or fall under them in the organizational hierarchy.

Until we start measuring managers on the success and/or failure of the human beings that work with them will always have a disconnect on the engagement front. As long as managers are overly focused on the functional outputs, they will never be focused on the needs of their humans.

If I work for someone who doesn’t care about me as a human being than I don’t care about them as an organizational lackey. As long as my manager sees me as a machine that creates organizational statistics then I will treat them, and the company in the same fashion.

You want engagement? Measure management on engagement.

Do you want human beings to contribute at a higher level? Then measure managers on how well their human beings contribute and grow.

Until those measures exist, engagement will be a pipe dream.

I’d be curious if anyone out there has any management measurements that are focused on the growth and the potential of their individual reports and not on the functional outputs of their area of responsibility. Hit me in the comments and let me know. I’m curious. I’ve yet to see it.