Chapter 9

Managing Performance When It’s Hard to Measure

by Jim Whitehurst

Organizations of all kinds have long struggled to accurately measure the performance of individual members. The typical approach is to assess an individual’s performance against a metric usually tied to whether or not they performed a task and the amount of output they generated by doing so. There’s a lot riding on these assessments: everything from compensation increases and bonus payments to promotions. And as anyone who has ever given or received a traditional performance review knows, this process can be highly subjective—even in the most metrics-obsessed organizations.

But what about the kinds of jobs where measuring someone’s “output” isn’t about counting the number ...

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