The Workforce Guide to Performance Measurement

By Mike Prokopeak


anagement moguls are mad for measurement. Measurement is the key to higher corporate performance, some argue. It’s the path to optimal results, other say. With just the right measurement approach, a middle-of-the-road employee can be transformed into a world-class performer.

Performance measurement might just be one of the most important and most misunderstood concepts in management today. Add in modern technology and its ability to hoover up vast amounts of data and spit it back out into an endless series of charts, widgets and dashboards and the head spins.

When it comes to HR, measurement is both art and science. A century ago, it wasn’t just a fleet of Model T cars that came rolling off an assembly line in Detroit. Along with them came the popularization of an emerging business model: scientific management. Pioneered by efficiency guru Frederick W. Taylor, scientific management took engineering principles and applied them to the factory floor, helping bosses squeeze the most of their workers and machines.

In later years, legendary GE boss Jack Welch strode the marbled corridors of corporate America bringing stacked ranking into the mainstream. High performing “A players” got promoted, “B players” were slotted into appropriate supporting roles and lowly “C players” got a shove out the door. Performance measurement moved from the factory floor to the C-suite, pushing aside a paternalistic corporate culture in favor of one based on performance.

The war for talent put a new spin on performance measurement. Rather than seeing employees battle to stay atop the org chart, companies found themselves competing to attract and retain the best and brightest who have the specialized skills needed to thrive in a fast-paced global economy. Performance measurement linked up further with performance management and its focus on engagement, retention and ongoing employee development.

With all the demands the modern economy places on an HR department, it’s understandable to be a bit confused about the state of performance measurement.

Workforce has you covered with our new “Guide to Performance Measurement” available at

Management may be mad for measurement but we’re here to help you keep it sane.