Part 3: Knowledge Professionals……measuring our performance

by Susan Lipsey

In my last two posts I’ve written about marketing knowledge professionals’ services to our clients and defining our value to the business in their language.   The third and complementary piece is performance measures. A profession’s ability to measure what it does allows the   profession to establish and maintain best practices and accountability.  It also allows the profession to manage competency development, evaluate against goals and  compare work against that of peers.  And our profession is no different.

Performance measures must be defined in terms of clients’ work and difference our services make to their work. Client interviews, focus groups and client discussions are all necessary steps in determining what your performance measures may look like. Performance measures are organization-dependent and change as the priorities and activities of the organization change.  Documented processes and requirements for performance measures support replicating results and training new staff.

Some of my experiences establishing performance measures for research teams include:

–          With a new team of inexperienced researchers,the goal of the performance measure was ensuring “service consistency”; in other words, we needed to ensure that we delivered the same service quality to each and every client. To do this, we needed to map the content and process for producing a research service report. Once we did this, each member of the research team track the quality of their work, as could the research team manager. These measures also established requirements to improve performance, increase project seniority and track team performance.

–          In another case, the goal was to improve client satisfaction and value of the research team’s deliverables. Clients “satisfied”, but we knew we could enhance their actual value of the service. The research team had been satisfying client needs – to a point – but the research team members had not pushed themselves, nor had they been pushed by their clients since clients really didn’t realize that the service could be much better. By interviewing clients from different groups in the firm, we were able to identify how research deliverables could be much more refined and customized and leveraged by clients into their deliverables.

The ability to synthesize and present content in a clear, concise, well-written, error-free manner that is “client-ready”. I have found that clients value receiving information that is synthesized, summarised or otherwise translated into an end-product which they can deliver to an external client or incorporated into a client deliverable without much adjustment. This last measure is the one that links the knowledge professional’s  work most closely to the work and results of the external client-facing team. It is the one measure that in combination with creative thinking ups your game from being a subject matter expert or “support” to being an integral professional in the organization in which you work.

The old adage “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it” holds true.

For more on measuring performance, see Rebecca’s Meaning Measures: Why Size Doesn’t Matter and the worksheets are here.