Expecting Results Vs Inspecting Results

By Uju Onwuzulike Chief Results Officer, MCL

“Every line is the perfect length if you don't measure it.” ……. Marty Rubin

During one of the partners meetings in San Diego, with our late founder of Haines Centre for Strategic Management - Steve Haines, he said something that resonated with me, and helped me understand the need not just to measure what people are doing but to also monitor them. He said, “People don’t do what you expect but what you inspect”. This quote eventually became a reminder and my deep foundation in driving results. In addition, I suddenly realized that business failures and poor performances could be minimized should managers and leaders begin to inspect their desired results from their subordinates from time to time.

Interestingly, about few years ago, a manager might not see the need to inspect his or her trusted subordinate, believing that he or she will naturally deliver results. In this case, the manager expects results (and is often times disappointed). One might say, but it can still happen in today’s world. True, it may be possible, but the rates of changes from the outside world and even shareholder’s expectations have made us to have a re-think. Now, no organization can afford not to inspect and monitor what people are doing. The era of waiting until an assignments, tasks or projects are finished until we get feedback is gradually fading away. We need to constantly ask “what is going on?”Asking that does not mean you don’t trust the ability of your colleague doing the assignment, it simply means you don’t want to leave anything to chances. It also means that you want to see results delivered instead of reasons or excuses for failures.

Every organization should have a way of measuring their performances at intervals. Not at the end of the journey- but in between the journeys. Sometimes organizations are too patient (even if you are, your shareholders are not). They wait until the end of the journey before measuring their progress. If we don’t want to end up somewhere we didn’t plan on, we must re-evaluate how we measure our progress during the journey. My message is, start to measure your goals on a weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis towards your overall destination.

Measure what’s important, not what’s easy. We typically measure factors that show we are making progress towards our destination. Sometimes leaders measure the easy things, like financial information, without considering the other areas that need to be monitored during the journey. There’s nothing wrong with evaluating financial information; it is important to the journey. But it shouldn’t be the only thing we measure. You will need to determine what areas make sense to measure your journey’s success. I also understand that sometimes it is tempting and probably makes more sense to measure only the financials – but that should not be the case.

What to Measure?

Consider these areas for possible measurement:
  • Customer information
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Supplier/partner feedback
  • Operational excellence
  • Financial success
  • Applied innovation

Choose measurement areas such as these, not just one area, to give you a good balanced, overall picture of your success. Any organization that measures these areas all together will not achieve anything less of success – and this is guaranteed. Importantly, you must measure your progress on a specific, ongoing timetable. It is the difference between staying on the road and making changes only after you’ve driven into someone’s wheat field and crashed the car.

In our various organizations, measuring regularly will show:
  • 1. How you know you’re being successful—are we moving towards our destination?
  • 2. How we know we are in trouble—are we on the road or on the shoulder?
  • 3. What corrective actions to take if we are in trouble—what adjustments do we make in our steering and speed to reach our destination?

Final notes: Asking your subordinates a simple question like, is everything okay, can open up a line of communication that will eventually impact positively on performance. Often times, we might be disappointed when we sit down and expect results to come just because we surround ourselves with trusted or competent people. One of the best ways to avoid disappointments (with your expected results) is to constantly inspect what your people are doing, that way you are always in the picture – knowing what is working and what is not. So, don’t just expect results to come rather inspect the results you want to attract.

I am Uju – your trusted advisor.

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