Performance management is not a new topic in municipal governments, yet its use is often limited to only the biggest of cities. Through our research and working with municipalities of all sizes, we have identified The Five Myths of Performance Management that have plagued municipal leaders for decades. At Revelstone, we are determined to help debunk these myths and demonstrate how you can start managing better with quantifiable metrics, depend less on anecdotal stories and help make data-driven decisions in your jurisdiction quickly, easily and cost effectively.
Myth #1—My people are too busy.
Municipal departments are, in fact, short-staffed and very busy. But a common problem we see in many municipalities is that staff members sometimes do things that aren’t necessary. How often have you dug into a problem or task to ultimately ask, “Why are we doing this?” only to hear the common answer, “Because that’s the way we’ve always done it.”
Is your staff really too busy to measure performance? How do you decide what “too busy” really means? What is the appropriate level of investment in staff time to make performance measurement worthwhile?
The reality is that in many organizations, there are measurement activities taking place, yet the actionable value of the measures and reports are questionable. You probably receive various departmental reports with the following types of information:
- # of construction permits approved
- # of potholes filled
- # of health inspections completed
The important questions you should be asking yourself are: Does this give you a real indication of how well or poorly you are performing? Is the information actionable? For example, if your Construction Department approved 25 permits last week, is that good or bad? At a minimum, wouldn’t it be nice to have comparable information from the prior year/month to see which way the data is trending, such as:
- The average length of time to approve construction permits
- # of potholes that have been filled compared to those that have not yet been filled
- # of health inspections completed on a timely basis
The tough questions you should be asking yourself are:
- Are you sure you are measuring the right things?
- Is the data collected and presented in a way that you can interpret the results and see the need for action?
- Are you and/or your elected officials doing anything with this information?
- What type of effort is needed to track a few key metrics per department?
At Revelstone, we recognize that optimizing staff resources is important. We advocate a Lean Performance Management Approach and believe all organizations should be focused on a small number of key metrics per department with meaningful reporting. Performance management is too important to ignore, even if it does take time of your staff. The consequences of not doing so can be perilous to making good decisions.
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