From Process to Job metric

Deriving Strategic objectives down to Process objectives is not sufficient. You need to derive these down to yet a lower level. It is even more important for the persons (individuals or teams) who will finally perform jobs and tasks to be well aware of how their own job affects the process objective(s) and the organisational objectives. It is indeed through job performance – which contributes to the process – that the actual value will be created. Hence, the need to further drill down from process to job metric.

Why aligning Job to Process & Strategic objectives?

Continuing our example from the latest blog: if the Quality Controller of the shafts for Tesla electric cars does not know why the very limited tolerance in diameter of the shafts is so important for the car efficiency, and thus for the final quality, why should s/he worry about precision? While making him/her aware of the impact of this tolerance on the large range between 2 battery recharges of the car, its contribution to the overall quality of the car, and finally to Tesla Motors’ success most probably will be motivating. Who would not like to work for a successful organisation, so providing him/her a high degree of satisfaction and job certainty…?

Process-to-Job-indicator

It may seem obvious that the clear meaning of a task is the best intrinsic motivator for the performers, especially when they are also aware of the importance of satisfied customers who (indirectly) pay their salary. However, it rather rarely happens that all employees are well aware of how their job precisely affects customer satisfaction; or how it impacts the higher strategic objectives.

In a more “Process oriented” or “Lean mature” organisation, job performers should even be critical themselves about the purpose of every action they take. Hence, they should consider whether each of their action really adds value and contributes to the higher objectives; among others customer satisfaction.

Indeed, the best way to obtain high commitment to job objectives is to involve the (future) performer in establishing the objectives for their own job.

To check the job-process-strategy objectives alignment, you should ask yourself :

  • how well are the outputs of the job linked to the process requirement & objectives?
  • how well are these job outputs linked to the customer requirements & organisational objectives?

Job Objective vs. Job Design & Job Management

Let me first quote Rummler & Brache to stress the importance of Job Design and Job Management:

If jobs are not designed to support process steps, and if job environments are not structured to enable people to make their maximum contributions to process effectiveness and efficiency, then Organisation and Process Goals will not be met”.

Job design is a matter of assigning responsibilities, defining (job) policies and procedures, and taking care of ergonomics. The first ones – i.e. roles & responsibilities and procedures – can be documented through process models and related diagram(s) like illustrated here below.

Tesla QC process diagrams

Ergonomy is a domain on its own: from well-being aspects to Motion Economy; obviously also impacting process efficiency and higher objectives.

Job management aims at managing following 6 factors of what Rummler & Brache call the “Human Performance System”. Here is a short description of these factors:

1. Performance specifications: does the job performer know the performance standards (at least if these exist)? And are these standards attainable?

E.g.: in our case, the Tesla Quality Controller must be aware of that s/he should refuse any shaft exceeding the tolerance agreed.

2. Task support: can the job performer easily and clearly recognise and execute the action(s) required based on the input(s)? And is s/he well equipped?

E.g.: our Quality Controller must know how to measure the diameter of the shafts (e.g. thanks to a procedure), and should possess the right equipment to do so.  

3. Consequences: are the consequences of the task(s) according the expected performance (and objectives) and are these meaningful for the performer?

E.g.: if the Quality Controller is responsible for controlling every single part, thus not only shafts, but also nuts and bolts which have no considerable impact on the car efficiency as the shafts, s/he may get stressed and neglect the Quality Control for the shafts, while this is the priority.Human Performance System

4. Feedback: the performer should receive STARE (= Specific,Timely, Accurate, Relevant, Easy-to-understand) feedback.  

E.g.: if the Quality Controller is new, and does not measure correctly (i.e. according to the procedure), this should be straightened according to the STARE criteria; thus by correcting immediately, clearly how to measure.

5. Skills and Knowledge: does the performer have the skills & knowledge and does s/he know the importance of the performance for the process and the organisation?

E.g.: the Quality Controller should not only be aware of the procedure describing how to control, but should also know the importance of the control, i.e. for the car efficiency, and for the success of Tesla motors as a company, thanks to the large range between 2 battery recharges.

6. Individual Capacity: is the performer physically, mentally and emotionally able to perform?

E.g.: if the Quality Controller has vision problems, it may be difficult to measure the tolerance with enough precision for the job.

It seems obvious that Performance Specification for a Job – and the respective Job management – impacts the process performance, and eventually the organisational performance.  

Indicators tips & tricks

To end with the blogs on (process) metrics, here are some do’s and don’ts:

Characteristics of good indicators:like 3

  • Easiness to understand: ideally, the indicator is self-explaining – e.g. “% of rejected shafts due to excess of tolerance”.
  • Metric meaning: like already mentioned, should know the “why” of the indicator, and how it affects the higher objective(s).
  • Leading rather than lagging: you can better use process indicators to foster wanted results and to avoid unwanted results, than to observe the results after the facts (i.e. after process execution). E.g. measuring the friction caused by shafts is lagging, while anticipating friction by excluding shafts exceeding the tolerance is (more) leading. Usually, the more upstream you measure within the process(es), the more leading – and more effective – the metric will be.
  • Objectivity to measure: the indicator should be expressed as an objective value, without bias and without room for ambiguity.
  • Economics: costs of collecting and/or analysing data should be limited and anyway lower than the benefits of the measure.
  • Involvement: a metric should reflect the involvement of all – or as many as possible – process stakeholders. E.g. for the tolerance of shaft diameter, Tesla motors can better involve the supplier, the designer who can assess the impact of tolerance on the efficiency, the Quality Controller who will need to effectively measure, etc.

While you best avoid:

  • Lack of – or poor – follow up: metrics that are not measured (consistently) should be either dropped or their follow up must be made consistent.
  • Lack of (clear) target value: a metric must have a well known target value, so that the performer can easily assess whether the result is OK or not.
  • Metrics for the sake of metrics: limit the number of metrics to only those really contributing to process and organisational objectives. Using too many indicators would decrease the focus on the really important ones.
  • Unwanted behavior: metrics will undoubtedly influence behavior, and they are meant to stimulate productive behavior. Hence, anticipate and exclude as many as possible side effects, like “game playing”, which may rather decrease productivity.

Last but not least, an “indicator dictionary” may help to avoid any ambiguity. Below table illustrates how such a completed template may look like for our indicator example, being the tolerance of shaft diameter.   

indicator dictionary

Write in below ‘Comments’ box about your own experience with indicators OR about the relevancy of this blog for you, and receive a valuable white paper with even more detailed do’s & don’ts for performance metrics.

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  • Ganesha

    Dear Jean Vercruysse … it is very useful for me thank you