Organizational Accountability Warning Flag 2 – Time-based Performance Assessments

StrategyDriven Organizational Accountability Warning Flag ArticleHow often have you, as an executive or manager, looked at the cars in the parking lot as you come into or depart from your workplace and said to yourself, “So and so are really contributing to the organization,” based on seeing their cars. Or seeing no one else’s car reflected on your own performance as, “I’m a top contributor. I put in more hours than anyone else.”[wcm_restrict plans=”53550, 25542, 25653″]

All too often, time spent at work is correlated with value contribution as though all labor is of equal worth. Within the truly accountable organization, this fallacy of this correlation is quickly recognized. While some individuals do provide high value for every hour worked, others do not because their work is misdirected or inefficient. Their hours worked do not directly correlate to the value added to the organization. Therefore, judging an individual based on their time contribution rather than the results achieved is unfair to the individual and others within the workforce. Instead, executives and managers should assess an individual’s performance relative to their value contribution. In instances where value contribution is low and hours worked are high, leaders should work with the individual to identify solutions that align the hours worked with the organization’s goals including elimination of time-intensive, low value-adding work.

Time-based performance assessments represent faulted logic on the part of the individuals making the association. The erroneous conclusion derived can have significantly negative ramifications particularly on those high performing employees who not only contribute significant value but do so in an efficient and effective manner. The stature of such employees is diminished because their superior performance enables them to accomplish more in a shorter period of time. Consequently, these individuals may receive less than proportional recognition for their value contribution; reducing the organization’s overall accountability and driving these top performers to reduce their productivity and/or leave the company. While not all inclusive, the four lists below, Process-Based Warning Flags, Process Execution Warning Flags – Behaviors, Potential, Observable Results, and Potential Causes, are designed to help leaders recognize when they are rewarding time contributed over value produced. Only after a problem is recognized and its causes identified can the needed action be taken to move the organization toward improved performance.

Process-Based Warning Flags

  • Documented or undocumented, across-the-board, mandated overtime
  • Performance review protocols that do not drive results driven or value contribution evaluations
  • Policies diminishing or limiting performance scores based on the use of flexible work hour arrangements
  • Lack of quality and productivity performance measures
  • Employee hours worked at home not counted within time recording systems

Process Execution Warning Flags – Behaviors

  • Executives and managers outwardly praise/reward individuals for their time contributions irrespective of results achieved or value added
  • Executives, managers, and supervisors do not directly monitor personnel performance for quality and productivity (management by walking around)
  • Managers use ‘hours clocked’ as a measurement of employee performance
  • Executives and managers discount employee hours worked at home
  • Employees routinely alter their arrival and departure times to coincide with executive and manager arrivals and departures respectively without working additional hours

Potential, Observable Results

  • Disenfranchisement of the most productive employees
  • Reduced employee productivity relative to the number of hours worked
  • Higher attrition among top performing employees
  • Elevated retention among low performing employees (though with higher work hours among these individuals)

Potential Causes

  • Organizational culture that equates time contributed with value contribution, typically a generational holdover and/or product of a tenure-based value system
  • Executives, managers, and supervisors value effort over results
  • Leaders focus on administrative work at the expense of actively engaging with their workforce
  • Company leaders seek an easy, quantifiable way to measure performance without considering the substance of the measure
  • Outgrowth of represented employee contracts treating all employee labor as equal such that value contribution is directly proportional to the amount of labor/time worked

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[/wcm_nonmember]Additional Information

Associating time with performance represents the weak analogy fallacy. Additional information regarding this fallacy and how to recognize when it occurs can be found in StrategyDriven’s decision-making warning flag article, Weak Analogies.

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