Measure for measure

I had an idea a while ago that came to fruition last week.  I mentioned it in my blog last week – creation of a comic book activity that managers can action on the hoof, or as part of a larger programme of interventions.

The feedback from users has been sound to date.  Comments have varied from good to excellent.  It has engaged managers and there seems to be an appetite for ‘something different’.  It has been taken up by Learning Pool   in their catalogue and downloaded by users there over a dozen times so, it seems, mission accomplished.  Or not.

I mentioned in my blog last week that someone asked me how we’d be able to track which managers had downloaded it.  I was talking to a manager in another team about it this week and the conversation went like this:
Other Manager – how do I know managers have done it?
Me – Done what?
OM – The comic.  I mean, if they just look at it but don’t complete it will you know?
Me –  Will I know if someone’s completed an open activity?
OM – Yes
Me – No
OM – Well, you need to put a note on stating that it’s mandatory.
Me – Why?
OM –  Because how else will we know if managers have completed it.

And thereafter a cyclical conversation about the limitations of mandatory exercises to develop soft skills, how will not skill is influenced, and what makes a useful learning activity.

The reason for the comic is to develop understanding of management activities outside of a formal learning environment.  The comic has no answer page, is not ‘marked’, is not submitted to anyone for validation.  It describes a staff member’s under performance and asks the manager to think about how they’d approach the staff member at their next review.   It has no right answer since the variables are too wide for the manager to be able to solve the problem.  It has been designed to make the manager think about their approach to the issue and whether they would approach it the right way.  If a manager seeks confirmation that they’ve got the answer ‘right’ they can discuss the case study:

  • With other managers
  • With a team in HR
  • At a classroom based course
  • On an online forum
  • In online chats
  • With my L&D team

So what point is there in measuring whether a manager has completed it, how long they take to complete it, or whether they could come up with the right answer in a test?

It’s taken me a while but I realised yesterday that this was due to the lack of outcome focus by managers.  Over the last few months I’ve noticed the desire to be task focused has overtaken the need to concentrate on the larger outcomes.  Working in the public sector in the UK is a little stressful at the moment as the future is highly uncertain for many.  As a result, a short term view is taking precedence as managers (and staff) look for the next hurdle, not the length of the finishing straight.  There’s an easy test that you can try at work for yourselves to see how outcome focused your colleagues and business partners are.  In your next business conversation take time to listen carefully to what the other person answers.  What you need to listen out for specifically are:

  • what they will do;
  • what will happen as a result of what they do.

For those that are outcome focused, it will be the latter.  In the case of the performance comic it will be more successful performance reviews.

In case you’re interested:

  • 324 metres
  • 18,038 pieces
  • 2 years
  • 3 coats of paint

Or, you can look at it as the Eiffel Tower and appreciate that it’s there because someone focused on the outcome.


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