When looking at the results changes the results

A biologist told me, “One chipmunk was trap crazy. That’s a technical term. Every time I set out an array of traps that one chipmunk ran right into one of the traps.” Wildlife biologists have to deal with the strange changes that happen when they measure something.

The mere act of measuring changes the thing being measured. That is the basis of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Tracking performance alters what happens. For instance, I worked on one set of computer programs where the programmers were paid per line of each program. Those were the longest programs I have ever seen.

As a salesman I was once rewarded for each call I made. I made a whole lot more calls but sold no more of the product. I was gaming the system. I was winning the contest and losing my job.

So how does this get you a new job or a raise?

Bosses want performance. They use reasonable, useless, and ridiculous metrics to decide what your performance was. That is true whether it is a hiring manager at a job you want, or your present boss.

First: Figure out what is the most important measuring stick

Second: Figure out what will keep your boss (or hiring manager) happy.

You should know and care about every measurement of your performance that your boss takes. It is absolutely critical to decide which are the actual critical measurements. Most fall into one or more of three categories.

  1. Metrics that your boss cares about
  2. Metrics that a future employer would care about
  3. Metrics that are measured and essentially useless

Be prepared to fail on the minor measurements to win a spectacular success on the critical measurements. Keep a record of how well you do on the most critical measurements.

Try to find how to turn your metrics into something your boss cares about or a future employer would care about. Sometimes this is changing the language to being more generally applicable. Other times, it’s showing how useful having that metric is.

What YOU decide to pay the most attention to will change how you work. You have to concentrate on the measurements that will get you to your end goal. Again, the mere act of measuring will change the thing being measured. That is the basis of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Figure out how to use that to reach your goals.

Something To Do Today

Do you know what you want out of your job? Money, a promotion, free time or a place to hang out? Write in your job journal what the most critical measurements are to help you reach that goal.

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