Tim Walsh wrote a post for his Leadership and Sports blog back in June, called What You See Early Is What You Get. Tim writes about specific rookie baseball players who looked great at the start of their careers and who, so far, are proving to be great.

Most companies use reference checking and referrals as a layman’s substitute for the scouting reports used in major league sports organizations. The whole idea is to do the upfront research to find someone you believe will perform well over time.

But there is something extra you can do to be more sure you will get the performance you want from the people you hire.

You can develop your leadership team’s ability to predict results – where you are going, both short and long term. Predicting within your current quarter is short term and outside of it is long term. For this post, let’s just focus on the short term.

Start by clarifying roles and responsibilities for each unique position or seat in your business and a set of objective, activity based measures that define success for each person in each position. Immediately everyone will know what is expected of them. Then by measuring actual activities against what was projected for each week, your leaders will begin to be able to predict quarter end results early in the quarter.

The earlier you see something going off track in a quarter, the more likely it is that you can identify the underlying performance issues and make adjustments in time to achieve the results you want in the quarter, rather than compensating for the shortfall in the next quarter.

In sales, you don’t just measure purchase orders; you measure activities without which purchase orders will never be received. In operations, it’s not just the finished products, but several key steps along the way from raw material to end product. In accounting, timely and accurate processing of every payable and receivable helps insure that cash flow is what it should be. And so it should be for engineering, customer service, IT, HR, etc.

Is this how it works in your company?

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