What is measuring?

To determine actual performance a manager must acquire information about it. The first step in control, then is measuring, let’s consider how we measure and what we measure.

How do managers measure?

Four common sources of information frequently used to measure actual performance are personal observation, statistical reports, oral reports, and written reports. Each has particular strengths and weaknesses; however use of a combination of them increases both the number of input sources and the probability of receiving reliable information.

Management by walking around (MBWA)

A phrase used to describe when a manager is out in the work area interacting with employees.

Personal observation provides firsthand, intimate knowledge of the actual activity – information that is not filtered through others. It permits intensive coverage because minor as well as major performance activists can be observed, and it provides opportunities for the manager to read between the lines. Management by walking around (MBWA) is a phrase that is used to describe when a manager is out in the work area, interacting directly with employees, and exchanging information about what’s going on. Management by walking around can pick up factual omissions facial expressions and tones of voice that may be missed by other sources. Unfortunately in a time when quantitative information suggests objectivity, personal observation is often considered an inferior information source. It is subject to perceptual biases; what one manager sees, another might not. Personal observation also consumes a good deal of time. Finally, this method suffers from obtrusiveness. Employees might interpret a manager’s overt observation as lack of confidence or a sign of mistrust.

The widespread use of computers has led managers to rely increasingly on statistical reports for measuring actual performance. This measuring device, hover, isn’t limited to computer outputs. It also includes graphs, bar charts and numerical displays of any form that managers can use for assessing performance. Although statistical information is easy to visualize and effective for showing relationships, it provides limited information about an activity Statistics report on only a few key areas and may often ignore other important often subjective factors.

Information can also be acquired through oral reports – that is, through conferences, meetings one to one conversations or telephone calls. In organizations in which employees work in a cultural environment this approach may be the best way to keep tabs on work performance. For instance, at NIIT, managers expected to hold one on one monthly review meetings with all their employees. The advantages and disadvantages of this method of measuring performance are similar to those of personal observation. Although the information is filtered it is fast allows for feedback and permits expression and tone of voice as well as words themselves to convey meaning. Historically, one of the major drawbacks of oral reports has been the problem of documenting information for later reference. However, our technological capabilities have progressed in the past couple of decades to the point where oral reports can be efficiently taped and become as permanent as if they were written.

Actual performance may also be measured by written reports. Like statistical reports, they are slower yet more formal than firsthand r secondhand oral measures. This formality also often gives the greater comprehensiveness and conciseness than found in oval reports. In addition written reports are usually easy to catalog and reference.

Given the varied advantages and disadvantages of each of these four measurement techniques, managers should use all four for comprehensive control efforts.

In HSBC India managers practice management by waking round to monitor the performance of its front office employees Managers go on unscheduled visits on which they interact with employees and customers to exchange information and personally assess customers service levels.

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