I am the type of person who has little tolerance for injustice, inequity and poor design. Perhaps, that is why in the late 1960s I chose my university degree to be in industrial engineering and operations research. I enjoy making things work smoothly, effectively, economically and efficiently. People similar to me are occasionally perceived as pessimists because us efficiency types always look at a half glass of water as half full rather than half empty. That is, we see unfulfilled potential as an opportunity for improvement. My type of worker wants the maximum yield out of any machine, system or organization. Is it a curse or a virtue?
Im not sure how people similar to me should be judged. We can be critical of things we observe in daily life. Hopefully, most people similar to me who desire efficiency and effectiveness keep our mouths shut when we witness processes, systems or events that disappoint us. Others dont like people who complain.
What I Would Do with a Magic Wand
I have periodically had unpleasant experiences with something that is controllable by someone not me when I - wish I could magically and instantaneously summon the most responsible person with control and say, Will you please fix this?
Traffic road signs are a good example. Have you ever driven on a road where you are seeking an obvious road sign to confirm that you are going in the correct and there is no such sign? Or worse yet, ever been a victim of a misleading road sign? Those are the moments when I want to immediately phone highway commissioners or whoever has authority, perhaps rousing them at night from their beds, magically transport them to my location, put them in my shoes and ask them, Did you know this condition or situation exists? Do you feel you are doing your job well?
Another pet peeve I have is waiting in line or being placed on hold for an eternity. Have you ever waited late at night in the tremendously long line at the passport control of a South American airport? Hundreds of air passengers are sometimes waiting over an hour in line to be processed by only three or four passport agents. What a great way to immediately alienate tired foreigners visiting a country for the first time. Get out the magic wand. Lets call that government official responsible for passport control and get him or her out of bed and in line with us. I bet that would start them thinking of a speedier process or spending a little more to add staff capacity to improve the service level.
Applying the Magic Wand to Performance Management
How would you apply your magic wand to the managers of the organization you are employed at? I can imagine you are coming up with many opportunities. (More of you are efficiency types than you probably care to admit.) My opportunity list would be long. The A items I suspect you are coming up with are these:
- As the executive team formulates and adjusts its organizations strategy, dont keep employees in the dark share your strategy with us. Better yet, seek our suggestions for which improvement projects, innovations or core processes to upgrade that will achieve your strategic objectives.
- When it comes to how we spend our time, dont micromanage us. Be clear about what types of target outcomes and results you are seeking from us and not with distant, highly aggregate measures such as a 20 percent increase in earnings. This doesnt help us understand the cause-and-effect linkages that will make your desired results be realized. A 20 percent earnings increase is not a goal. It is a result. It would be nice if we as employees were involved in selecting the so-called performance indicators. Ideally, you would provide us not only the software technology to visually monitor the dials in our performance measurement dashboards, but also the analytical technology for us to move those dials.