Over the past few weeks, I have had numerous conversations about performance management. Emanating from my last blog essay, â€œBeating Cadence, the Drumbeat of Performance Managementâ€, the challenges and opportunities for implementing or improving performance management disciplines seem to cross industries and company sizes broadly. In those conversations, I have found myself referring back to an old practice that I call â€œTrack, Rank & Publish.â€
As I mentioned in my previous essay, I deeply believe in the practice and discipline of performance management in business. Keeping a steady â€œcadenceâ€ in that practice has been vital to my past success, and I shared a view in that essay of my â€œdaily/weekly/monthly/quarterly/annualâ€ approach. What I want to elaborate here is that at every step of that â€œcadence,â€ I would use this idea of â€œTrack, Rank, & Publishâ€ to illuminate and communicate the status of the teamâ€™s performance not just as a whole, but broken down into more accountable entities. Simply put, we would â€œTrackâ€ performance with a regular cadence and I worked hard to eliminate any data/reporting issues that raised any questions with the reports. Second, we would â€œrankâ€ performance by market, customer, and sales leader very simply high to low, first to worst, good to bad, ahead of plan -> on plan -> below plan, etc. Finally we would â€œpublishâ€ those results in a variety of forums, looking to stay on a â€œcadenceâ€ so the organization would see results and rankings regularly and become accustomed to the idea of â€œTrack, Rank, & Publish.â€
There are a number of approaches that I have used over the years to heighten the impact and awareness of the published rankings. One technique was to simply highlight the top 10% vs the bottom 10% of the ranked performance to spotlight the top and bottom performers. Clearly no one wants to be identified as a bottom performer and finding yourself in the bottom 10% was never a desired or comfortable outcome! Taking the smallest move to identify those groups in bold, or to color the top 10% in green (for money!!) and the bottom 10% in red (for stop!!) I was amazed by the impact of just color coding the list; if no one wants to be in the bottom 10%, then REALLY no one wants to be on that list when it is colored red!
Using another approach, I developed a report that I called the â€œTriple Dâ€ report in my last role where we tracked customer performance weekly and sorted the customers in three groups, â€œDrivers, Defectors, & Drains,â€ thus the â€œTriple Dâ€ report. To make the â€œDriverâ€ list, the account had to have positive sales for the week vs year ago, a â€œDefectorâ€ showed no sales for the week and may be a lost or lapsed account, and a â€œDrainâ€ account showed sales declines for the week vs year ago. Not only did we sort the accounts into these three groupings, we then ranked each list high to low, highlighting the biggest â€œDrivers, Defectors, & Drainsâ€ for the week. It didnâ€™t take long for each sales leader to be watching this report like a hawk, emailing me quickly to emphasize that their customer was a significant â€œdriverâ€, or WHY their customer was showing up on the â€œdrainsâ€ list.
Regardless of approach or technique, the intent (like always) is to accelerate performance by heightening accountability across the organization. Think about your business context and find an approach that works for you, whether using the color coded top and bottom 10% approach, or something like the â€œTriple Dâ€ report, look for ways to expand the visibility and accountability of performance results and use the approach of â€œTrack, Rank & Publishâ€ to accelerate your teams performance!