I have heard from several of my peers over the last couple of years that performance metrics are the golden key to evaluating and motivating technical people. The arguments revolve around essential baselines, numbers that ensure work is complete and timely, and lately I’ve heard that technical people respond better to metrics based on quantitative data and not qualitative. I would say that in my experience, these observations are absolutely correct.
Baselines are essential in the technical service world to begin comparisons, set out improvement goals and measure gains. I would also argue that metrics are critical to ensure management is aware of the timeliness of I.T. response and to keep an eye on the all important completion rate. I would also back the argument that technical based people respond to metrics better than non-technical people in general, and in providing performance evaluations they are critical.
Setting up your I.T shop around metrics is critical, however, relying solely on metrics for performance evaluations to understand I.T. performance is a mistake and will lead to epic failures. I work with a group of CIO’s and I.T. pro’s that get together often to compare notes and bounce ideas around the room, and the management failures of this group almost always revolve around either providing no metrics or, usually more disastrously, relying solely on them for information.
CIO’s and I.T. directors need to engage the human elements of their technical employees as well as the quantitative sides to understand what weaknesses exist and how best to address them. Purely quantitative measurements lead to even the most hardened employees feeling disrespected or undervalued. In the performance evaluations that I’ve given it’s when I put the metrics down and talk about how the employee is perceived, accepted, or doing things that metrics cannot define (good or bad) they typically light up in this process. Providing an evaluation of qualitative measures generally pulls technical people out of their comfort zone, which is really when you find out how the employee feels and what they really needed from me to better perform.
It will be a common mantra in my blogs, but I believe that the greatest thing I.T. managers can do is constantly consider how we can get out of the way of great employees while making their jobs easier. Getting all of your employees to be great might be hard, but once there, fighting for them and working to better your peoples productivity is one great reward of management. Use metrics as much as possible to understand where the needs are met, or not, in your business, but do not stop there as the human element is just as critical to both your investigation and their performance.
Write me back with suggestions for how metrics have either helped or hurt you in a job evaluation; I would love to hear what you think.