Are You Really Managing For Results?

If I asked, would your employees tell me that you manage their results or their tasks?

It is often natural to want to attempt to manage the different processes that are underway in your organization. The key, however, is to measure the results of the processes, rather than the processes themselves. Four out of 5 managers would say that they manage for results, but their people often have a different story to tell.

How do you identify whether you are measuring the process or the results? To begin, there are three questions to ask yourself:

1. Are you measuring how your team is getting to a result? If the answer is yes, then you are looking at their process, not the results–actions and tasks are just a means to an end. The end is the result

2. Is it measurable? You might assume that if the thing you’re focused on is measurable then it must be a result, but really it could be either. Consider a PR professional who has submitted X number of press releases. That number is measurable. But is it important? How do we know how those press releases have created a result, like impacting the bottom line? You can measure parts of a process–just because it is measurable doesn’t mean it is a result.

3. Is it an outcome or a milestone? Are you looking at a snapshot during the process where you can measure your progress toward the end result relative to where you started? If the answer is yes, then you are looking at a result.

Every manager must learn to make this distinction. It isn’t as simple as it might seem. In fact, many of my best clients struggle with it at times. However, the benefits of managing the results rather than the process are multifold. For one thing, a results focus really limits micromanaging because you are not involved in other people’s processes. They can figure out what they are going to do for themselves. You are just looking at the results of their work and how they impact the bottom line.

Another benefit is that your employees must own their own results. The less you interfere with their processes, the more your team has to own what they create. They have to take ownership of their decisions and their risks. As a result, your employees are forced to develop the capacity to be responsible for their own processes, and this, in turn, frees up your time and attention so that you can take on bigger and better things. Another critical benefit of measuring results rather than processes is that it makes measurement impartial–the numbers speak for themselves.

While distinguishing the difference between managing for processes and managing for results can be a difficult skill to master, it is critical for managers to develop this ability, and put it into action. In doing so, business leaders are able to assess their companies’ progress toward an end-goal, with one eye always on the bottom line.