One of my less stellar moments as a five-year-old was the end of year report card. The subject was music. My rating was a D and the teacher's comment was 'she loves to sing but unfortunately is always out of tune'. At first I thought I was being praised until the full meaning of the sentence sunk in. Yes indeed, all year long I had sung often and loudly with full joy and enthusiasm. At no point was there any sense of adjustment being needed, no particular guidance or direction...only a judgment at the end that my performance was inadequate. Today, I simply say 'not helpful'.
A member of our family is a kindergarten teacher. When he speaks about his guidance to his students, monitoring on an hourly and daily basis, and guiding to the adjustments needed, I believe his students to be very fortunate to have him. It's not just a sign of the change in how we educate. It's a commitment from a dedicated leader, ensuring the best for his students.
Fast forward to my work with organizations as a manager, then a CEO, and finally as a leadership and organizational development consultant. That kindergarten teacher that I had all those years ago actually did me a favor. With that experience of being left to my own devices, believing that because I felt good doing it, my singing was also good, I stayed away from the point-in-time performance management that didn't have the beneficial effects of monitoring and adjustment. I understood the importance of making adjustments along the way with a goal of everyone having the opportunity to be the best they could be.
Preparing for Monitoring and Evaluation
Metrics are important, from getting that baseline to tracking improvements over time. Our concept of why we use the metrics, what metrics are used, and how we apply them makes a big difference in whether the metrics aid in performance and organizational well being, whether they foster a life nurturing work climate or a life-depleting work climate.
What those metrics are is unique to every situation. What is common to successful outcomes is to regularly be monitoring those agreed upon metrics and making minor adjustments along the way to stay on track to achieve your goals. Acknowledging what may be getting off track and taking the steps necessary to realign.
The good news is, getting back on track is possible. After some years of being shy about my singing, I still love to sing.