"If You Can’t Measure It, You Can’t Manage It"

I watched  a Horizon programme on self monitoring recently and it reminded me of something I say on most courses I run, “if you aren’t aware of it – you can’t influence it”, or “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

If you don’t know a customer has a problem, you can’t put it right for them. If you don’t know one of your team members is struggling you can’t help them.  If you don’t know there’s a problem with yourself, either physically or mentally, you can’t change what will happen.

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”

One of the astounding things introduced in the programme for me was the England Rugby Sevens squad who are constantly monitored while they train.  All sorts of parameters are measured and recorded including heart rate, speed, distance travelled and a host of others.  The amazing thing is that all this information means that the Coaches can tell when someone is ill up to 24 hours before they become aware of it themselves!  According to one of the Coaches, they have reduced soft tissue injuries in the squad by 80% since using this approach.

Watch the video

Now, although I don’t play for England, I do play hockey for Duchy Hockey Club and at our first training session for the season we undertook a bleep test.  This produces a simple but effective baseline measure which means that when we run the test again in a few weeks we will be able to see (hopefully) an improvement in fitness.

So these measurements don’t have to complex or scientific to be useful. We have developed and use a range of simple and effective tools to help you monitor yourself throughout the day.

One of the ones I use every day myself, and with clients is the Focus, Energy, Motivation check.

Your performance in anything you do is affected by your Focus, Energy and Motivation levels so it is a good thing to check them regularly.  Just score yourself from 1 to 10 for each and multiply the figures together.  There is a possible score of 1000 which, if you score this means that you are totally Motivated, Energised and Focused.

This is very rare! The point of doing the check is that you can then influence your scores to improve your performance in anything you do;

To improve Focus:
  • Deal with distractions. Choose to deal with them now, before you move on, or make a conscious choice to deal with them later (specify a time)
  • Make a conscious decision to focus
  • Take a break
To improve Energy:
  • The obvious advice of getting enough sleep, exercising and eating healthily applies to improve your energy generally
  • Take a break – make sure you have a lunch break when you get away from your immediate working environment
  • Change your focus – do a different task then come back to the one you were working on
To improve Motivation:
  • Ask yourself a simple question “what’s in it for me?” Once you have an outcome in mind you will find you are more motivated

There is a whole new movement looking at self monitoring for health – it’s called The Quantified Self   and there is a fascinating increase in the number of Apps to help with this.

On an organisational level, it is really useful to be able to gain an understanding of the thoughts and feelings of everyone in it – these affect the performance of the organisation as a whole.

Carrying out a regular Opinion Survey is a good way of measuring this.  The design of the questionnaire (and the process) is crucial – if you don’t get this right your data will not be helpful.

We have carried out this activity for a number of clients and used different questions and approaches depending on the organisational needs.  We have designed a web based questionnaire for one client, carried out focus groups, used a short paper based questionnaire and interviewed people as appropriate.  The key is to ‘start with the end in mind’ and decide what information you want, and what you will do with it.

And that is absolutely crucial.  You need to communicate these results to the team and act on those results.

Just as, when you weigh yourself and act on the results you get from the scales, you need to put activities into place to improve anything you need to improve from your surveys.

One of the simplest ways to gain realtime information of the state of the team is ‘Management By Wandering About’.  Many managers we have worked with have found great benefits in starting to walk around and talk to their team members on a regular basis.  Often it is easy to stay in the office and deal with the reams of paperwork, numerous phone calls and problems that crop up on a daily basis but there is no substitute for the regular short one-to-one chat with the team.

So there are lots of ways of quantifying both yourself and the people who work with you. Technology can really help, but as with all technology, ask what you want to get out of the process first.

I’m off to work on a bleep test for organisations now.

If you can't measure it, you can't manage it

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