Why Is Measurement Critical in Your Performance Objectives

Imagine you’re watching a basketball game on TV. The players are enthusiastic and passionate, stealing the ball, making long-range jump shots, and nailing free throws for every foul.

But what if, at the end of that game, the buzzer sounded and everyone left the court with no accounting of a final score – because no one bothered to count how many baskets each team made?

It’s a little anti-climactic, isn’t it?

Business – like basketball—is a game at times. Some shots (or business tasks) are worth more than others (3-pointer versus a free throw). Some players (or employees) are more productive (score more points). Some employees (players) are also amazing assisters – but don’t score the winning goals.

But how do you know any of these things unless you measure or count them?


The M in SMART

Measurement is the 2nd letter in the famous SMART goal model, which says that all goals or objectives are SMART:






While each of these qualities for goals and objectives are important, let’s focus on the Measurability aspect of goals.


The M in SMART: Measurement

We’ve all heard the old saying “What gets measured, gets done.” In short, it means that if an employee knows a particular task or activity is being monitored – whether that’s sales volume or how fast a secretary answers the phone – the employee will pay attention to (or focus on) that task.

Measurement lets us know whether or not something was accomplished – or how much of it was accomplished, and if that performance improved from the previous year.

For example, Jane met this year’s goal by selling 15,000 cookie boxes this. That’s measurable. It’s specific. We can literally count the number of boxes she sold.

What if next year she sold 20,000? If you hadn’t counted both years’ performances, you would never know and be able to compare that performance.


Why does it matter?

Measurement not only makes performance reviews objective (the employee either met the goal or they didn’t) but they also help to indicate other opportunities.

Let’s take Jane’s performance from the above scenario. A critically thinking manager would then want to ask why? Why did Jane’s performance go up?

  • Was last year Jane’s first year, and so she’s now learned how to do her job better (thus indicating improved capabilities, efficiency and effectiveness?)
  • Was her goal or objective of 15,000 too low in the first place?
  • Is the market changing? Is there an increased demand for the cookies?
  • Is the price too low for the cookies?


Measuring What Matters

Some metrics for performance reviews are easy to obtain, like sales figures.  Other metrics – like customer satisfaction – may not be so easy.

What’s important is to figure out what are the most important objectives for each employee and how they are measurable. And if you don’t have a way to measure something – like something “nebulous” like customer satisfaction, then either remove it as an objective for your employee, or determine what that term means and how it’s going to potentially be measured. 

In other words, how do you KNOW the employee provided good customer service? What does good customer service” look like to your company?  At the end of the day, your employees’ goals and objectives all directly align to your company’s overall corporate strategy and its overall goals and objectives.


Moving Forward

As you begin to rethink your employees’ job requirements into performance objectives, ask yourself:

  • What are the key, measurable factors the employee is responsible for that determine success? Consider a range of measurements, such as volume, speed, quality, and profitability metrics.
  • How do these factors impact other areas of the business?
  • How will you measure these factors? Is there a system in place for measurement?
  • Have you established measurable goals for each person on your team, based on the tasks he or she performs?


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