Motivational Series – Part 4: Motivation and Measures

Motivation and Measures

“People do what you count, but not what counts.”
What this means is that people will respond to measures in unexpected ways. Once you put a measure in place, staff will gear their behavior to that measure. In some cases, this will result in completely unexpected outcomes that somehow fulfill your measures, but fall short of achieving what you intended. You need to be very careful when developing or redesigning measures for the workplace.
What we need to do is get some general things right.

1. Figure out what you intend to measure and draft “the spirit” of the measure first.
a. For example, is your measure intended to drive time efficiency, task efficiency, cost efficiency, quality, customer satisfaction, security measures, minimize risk, ensure business continuity, maintain health and safety, or regulatory compliance?

2. Then create the “measure”
a. Keep it simple and aimed at the “spirit of the measure”
b. Test to ensure that it drives that appropriate behavior (don’t commit the measure until it’s tested and true)
c. Use best practices from Hubbard @

3. Ensure that your measure supports the right work environment and culture
a. When a measure or combination of measures hinder your working environment or culture they can become destructive
b. Test your measures and ensure that:
i. they are not being applied in a purely legalistic manner
ii. They do no lead to strong feelings of guilt, blame, shame, or overly aggressive individual competitiveness

4. Remember that you will often need to combine several different measures in order to drive the right behavior
a. For example, a common goal is to achieve some level of efficiency. At the same time, you can’t afford to sacrifice quality or customer satisfaction. A best practice would be to combine some type of baseline for efficiency complimented with a way of measuring quality and customer satisfaction. In some cases, you may even choose to remove the efficiency measure and simply focus on quality and customer satisfaction.
b. Beware: there are times when your efficiency baseline will backfire on you. You may suggest to your staff that they need to produce a minimum of two hundred widgets per day, not realizing that most of your staff may be capable of producing over four hundred high quality widgets per day. By enforcing your new efficiency baseline, people may actually slow down or even become bored and complacent.

Larry Barnard

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