How is Your Report Card?

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Business GraphA report card serves to provide information on how well certain work is done. We are familiar with the idea since grade school. I went home holding my head high with ‘A’s but fearful of being scolded when I got poor grades. In the workplace, is there a similar feeling about the monthly report? As we all know, not everything works out perfectly all the time. It is natural to expect that there would be lacklustre performance every now and then. We shouldn’t need to be fearful of poor grades.

Let’s start with the purpose of the report card. It serves 3 purposes. It provides information on:

  1. Results—the actual performance measured by some pre-defined metrics.
  2. Relative performance to a standard—the comparison of results against an acceptable level of performance.
  3. Action alerts—the signals for necessary action to right the results.

Progressive companies would do the following with the reported results.

Excellent results—

  • Congratulate the team on the outstanding performance
  • Understand the critical success factors
  • Seek ways to maintain the momentum
  • Look for opportunities to apply the same approach in other areas of the business

Poor results—

  • Uncover the root cause of the problem
  • Assess the magnitude of the impact
  • Examine ways to overcome the issue
  • Take action to improve performance

In adopting an improvement mindset with the report card, the business would avoid polluting the purpose of results reporting. The worst that could happen is to start finger-pointing and find a scapegoat to blame. This mindset could be poisonous. It could drive problems underground.

The report card is crucial to the success of a business, provided that it presents the right information. Reporting on the wrong things could be devastating. In order to report on the right things, the business needs to figure out the ideal outcomes for its success. It has to ask itself what results it wants to achieve if it is able to fulfill its mandate and satisfy the customer needs. Though it sounds straightforward, it is a challenging question because the business must identify the specific, tangible results. It could not be vague about them.

When the next monthly report arrives, take a look at the results and determine whether it provides the insight for advancing the company’s business objectives. Falling short of meeting the purpose of reporting would waste time and won’t help the business drive the results it deserves.

© Connie Siu 2014. All rights reserved.

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