Question: Will moving from individual performance metrics to team performance metrics, make us more collaborative?

Our company (around 120 employees) is a very metrics driven organization. All senior managers are responsible for their departmental metrics. Every employee is responsible for 3 key numbers, which telescope into the departmental metrics.

As HR manager, I think this has added a lot of value to company. Clear expectations, direct effect on business results, good for morale, and we really celebrate our top performers (based on objective data), etc.

However, we think this has led to "win-lose" mindset among team members. While the top performer is celebrated as a hero, the support received from team is not recognized. Management knows this is limiting our ability for rapid growth, where employees learn from each other.

So we are thinking of shifting focus to team performance metrics (small teams made up of 4-6 members). Is this a good step towards becoming more collaborative as a company?

Expert Insight

You've put your finger on a long debated issue. The Idea of individual performance vs. team performance.  In my mind NO ONE accomplishes anything alone, It's always a team win. It's a both/and scenario. The key is to find out how to keep exceptional performers who go beyond what some others are doing rewarded and feel valued for the extra effort while still having that person and the organization recognize that without support from their team, the person achieves practically nothing.

Look at a football scenario. The person who is most often recognized for 'the win' is the quarterback. However, without an offensive line that protects him long enough to make the play, without a running back whose work gives the defense the confusion about whether or run or pass is coming, without the receiver having the skills to run the route and the good hands and presence to make the catch while hearing the footsteps of the person about to tackle him, NONE of what the quarterback does matters.

Great quarterbacks go out of their way to show appreciation for their teams. They elevate them in interviews, they reward them by taking the line out to dinner...many many things show they know that all their stats, all their glory is contingent on team effort.

Many times it's not so obvious in a company but it's the same nevertheless. And companies would do well to support a culture of collective accomplishment vs. solo individual achievement, which is an illusion in the first place.

So, since any company is one ginormous team, I would pose a different question..."What would have to happen within the culture for everyone to recognize the team quality of every achievement while still acknowledging individual effort?"  And then ask what metrics will support this, and what rewards are to be put in place to reinforce the value.

And it goes further to the 'back office'.  Without the people in the background handling things like training, uniforms, PR, coaching, the quarterback doesn't win