If you watched Seinfeld, George Costenza would leave his car parked at work on purpose so his boss would think he was working late.
Sound like a few of your employees who always look busy but don’t quite produce? It’s a tactic using what psychologists call input bias, which is a tendency to use the signs of effort to judge outcomes. But here’s the clincher: The two have little to do with each other.
So how do you accurately measure performance of yourself and your employees?
Don’t confuse effort with outcome. Whether it takes 30 minutes or eight hours of effort, don’t let time be a red herring in judging quality of outcomes.
In evaluating performance, make sure your metrics are meaningful. Are you measuring number of tasks completed or a bigger picture?
Examine your incentives.
Are you incentivising in a way that works in the short-term but not the long-term?
Zoom out and look at the whole picture. Before you ask how productive your people are, check if the data you have tells the whole story.
Find out more in Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino’s book, Sidetracked.