Education competencies: Managing and measuring work

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success. View all competencies .


Clearly assigns responsibility for tasks and decisions; sets clear objectives and measures; monitors process, progress, and results; designs feedback loops into work.

Proficiency level

Level 1: Basic Level 2: Intermediate Level 3: Advanced Level 4: Expert
Assigns responsibility for tasks Clearly assigns responsibility for tasks and decisions Clearly communicates expectations to groups, eliminating ambiguity Clearly communicates expectations and aspirations to groups and organizations
Sets measures Sets clear, quantitative measures Sets quantitative and qualitative measures that are observably tied to goals and objectives Adjusts quantitative and qualitative measures as needed to ensure appropriate feedback on priority goals and objectives
Observes process, progress, and results Monitors process, progress, and results Designs an efficient and effective system of reporting progress and evaluations results Designs and broadcasts tangible benchmarks and success measures
Offers feedback Regularly interacts with others to give and receive feedback Designs feedback loops into work Implements feedback loops that provide information to appropriate individuals who are empowered to make decisions and exercise authority within the prescribed framework

Overdoing managing and measuring work

  • May be overcontrolling; may look over people's shoulders
  • May prescribe too much and not empower people

Essential questions

To improve your proficiency, ask yourself the following questions on a regular basis:

  • What questions can I pose to others to ensure that they understand my system?
  • What goals have I set that may need to be reconsidered or changed?
  • Is my system of reporting progress and evaluating results working as I expect it to?
  • By what means will I broadcast tangible benchmarks and success measures for a current project?
  • What tool can I use to visually relate to others the progress toward reaching the goal?
  • Who can I personally compliment for good performance?

To avoid overdoing managing and measuring work, ask yourself:

  • Am I trying to control every aspect of the work?
  • Am I not empowering others to be responsible for their tasks?
  • Am I wasting time by requiring too many progress reports?

Interview questions

  • Please share a time when it was important to communicate responsibilities or expectations to an individual or group in a way that minimized ambiguity. To whom did you communicate responsibilities? What approach did you use to prevent ambiguity and ensure that the person(s) understood what was expected? What was the result?
  • Please provide one or two examples of how you've used quantitative and qualitative measures to monitor achievement of goals and objectives. What measures did you set, and how did you monitor progress? Was there a time when you needed to provide feedback? What was the result?
  • Share some specific examples of how you've monitored the performance of people or critical projects. What monitoring and reporting systems or processes did you use? Were they already in place, or did you need to create them? Describe how they impacted results.
  • Describe some specific situations in which you used regular feedback loops to help others stay on track. How often was the feedback provided and in what form? What process did you use to determine the frequency of feedback? What were some specific results of your feedback?

Learning on the job

Learning on your own: These self-development remedies will help you build your skill(s).
  • Set goals: Set goals before assigning projects, work, and tasks to help focus people's time and efforts and to allow them to work effectively and efficiently.
  • Focus on measures: Come up with some success measures to chart progress in reaching the goals.
  • Engage people in the goal-setting effort: Allow others to have a say in how goals are set and measured to motivate their performance.
  • Match goals to people: Try to relate the goals to each person’s hot button, and let them participate in the process.
  • Clarify: Be clear about goals, how they will be measured, and the rewards and consequences for those who exceed or just make or miss their goals. Communicate both verbally and in writing.
  • Visualize: Establish a process to enable people to monitor progress and gauge their pace.
  • Give feedback: Give a lot of feedback during the process to promote adjustments, add value to the work, and keep everyone on the same page.
  • Be flexible: Be prepared to change goals midstream. Anticipate problems.
  • Follow through with positive and negative rewards and consequences: Celebrate the "exceeders"; compliment the "just made its"; discuss what happened with the "missed its." Deliver both the rewards and the consequences you promised.
  • Set goals for yourself: Measure yourself. Ask others for help and for continuous feedback.
Learning from develop-in-place assignments: These part-time develop-in-place assignments will help you build your skill(s).
  • Temporarily manage a group opposed to an unpopular change or project.
  • Temporarily manage a group of low-competence people through a task they could not do by themselves.
  • Assemble a team of diverse people to accomplish a difficult task.
  • Build a multifunctional project team to tackle a common problem.
Learning more from your plan: These additional remedies will help make this development plan more effective for you.
  • Learning to learn better:
    • Study people who have successfully done what you need to do. Summarize their tactics, strategies, and insights, and then adjust your plan accordingly.
  • Learning from experience, feedback, and other people:
    • Learn from interviewing others. Ask what, how, and why they do what they do, where they learned it, and how they keep it current and relative.
    • Learn by observing others. Objectively study what they do.
    • Get feedback from your direct reports. Set a positive tone, and don't retaliate if you don't agree.
    • Learn from limited staff. Look for ways to bring out the best in others who may lack skills or experience. Motivate by being a positive force, even in negative situations, and by giving feedback. Recognize when it is time to stop trying something and start over.
  • Learning from courses:
    • Take a supervisory course. Review the common practices of effective supervision.
    • Take a course designed to offer feedback, such as how to develop negotiating skills or influence people.
    • Encourage others to take refresher or preparatory courses. Communicate, and be supportive.

Recommended readings

  • Bovet, David, and Joseph Martha.ValueNets.New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2000.
  • Branham, F. Leigh.Keeping the People Who Keep You in Business.New York: AMACOM, 2001.
  • Cohen, Dennis J., and Robert J. Graham.The Project Manager’s MBA: How to Translate Project Decisions into Business Success.New York: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 2001.
  • Dess, Gregory G., and Joseph C. Picken.Beyond Productivity: How Leading Companies Achieve Superior Performance By Leveraging Their Human Capital.New York: HarperBusiness, 1999.
  • Fitz-Enz, Jac.The ROI ofHuman Capital: Measuring the Economic Value of Employee Performance.New York: AMACOM, 2000.
  • Friedlob, George T., Lydia L.F. Schleifer, and Franklin J. Plewa.Essentials of Corporate Performance Measurement.New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002.
  • Gupta, Praveen, and A. William Wiggenhorn.Six Sigma Business Scorecard: Creating a Comprehensive Corporate Performance Measurement System.New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2003.
  • Hammer, Michael.The Agenda: What Every Business Must Do to Dominate the Decade.New York: Crown Business Publishing, 2001.
  • Johnson, Michael D., and Anders Gustafsson.Improving Customer Satisfaction, Loyalty and Profit.New York: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 2000.
  • Kaplan, Robert S., and David P. Norton.The Strategy-Focused Organizations: How Balanced Scorecard Companies Thrive in the New Business Environment.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000.
  • Keen, Peter G. W.The Process Edge—Creating Value Where It Counts.Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1998.
  • Niven, P.R.Balanced Scorecard Step-by-Step: Maximizing Performance and Maintaining Results.New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2002.
  • Paine, Lynn Sharp.Value Shift.New York: McGraw-Hill Trade, 2003.
  • Wade, David, and Ron Recardo.Corporate Performance Management: How to Build a Better Organization Through Measurement-Driven, Strategic Alignment.Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001.

Next steps

Copyright © 1992, 1996, 2001-2003 by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This work is derived from the LEADERSHIP ARCHITECT® Competency Library developed and copyrighted by Robert W. Eichinger and Michael M. Lombardo for Lominger Limited, Inc.

This competency is one in a set of complete functional and behavioral qualities that, when fully realized, can help lead to professional success.

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