What gets measured gets managed

March 3, 2018

Above all, it is necessary for a person to have a true self-estimate, for we commonly think we can do more than we really can.

Seneca, on Tranquility of Minds, 5.2

Do you see and assess yourself accurately?

What does it mean to assess yourself accurately?
Why is an accurate self-assessment important?

There is a saying that we use in leadership and business. Effectively, certain things we:

  • know we know
  • know we don’t know
  • do not know that we don’t know

The problem is that we can be blind to the category we are in, which can open us up to errors. To mistakes.

Success! You're on the list.

If we aren’t aware of what we don’t know, then we may ignore something we should not be ignoring.

This is why checklists are important. Because, a checklist can ensure that we don’t overlook something we shouldn’t overlook.

Moving from unconscious incompetence to unconscious competence

Another area that’s important for accurate self-assessment is when we are attempting to better ourselves.

We need to know what our starting position is before we can improve. Highlighted below, is a graphic that illustrates this.

The problem, in the beginning, is we are not even conscious of our negative behavioral traits. We are, effectively, unconsciously incompetent.

Once we are aware of our incompetence(s), then we can begin to move towards conscious competence(s).

Unconscious incompetence

This is not a straight-forward path. At first, we will need to bring our incompetence(s) into the light of day. We will need to become conscious of the behaviors.

How would you do this? How do you bring to light your incompetence(s)?

There are a number of ways that I recommend you begin to understand your gifts of improvement:

  • Ask those closest to you
  • Have someone perform a 360 feedback
  • Do some deep introspection of your +s and -s

Conscious incompetence

What then, is the next step? How do you move to conscious incompetence?

Once aware of the issue, be on the lookout for it. If it’s subconscious, co-opt your friends, family and colleagues. For example, if you have a habit of touching your beard and you don’t know it, ask a colleague to motion as if they’re touching their beard when you do it. I have done this one, it worked.

Conscious competence

Once you are more aware of your incompetence, it becomes easier to stop performing the behavior.

For example, once your colleague has illustrated to you enough times the beard scratching behavior that you are illustrating, then you will become conscious when you’re performing that behavior. You start to need to rely on their signalling less. By training, you’re aware of the behavior yourself.

Unconscious competence

This is the key.

You had someone signaling to you your negative behaviors.

You learned to recognize it yourself. To see when you were performing the behavior.

This is where the training comes in. With time, because you’re policing yourself of the incompetent behavior, your new competent behavior becomes a habit.

At this point, you make the transition you worked so hard for. You now don’t need to think about it, you’re competent without thought.

My personal assessment

On average, I assess myself quite accurately.

I have done 360 degree feedback exercises at work. When I get the results, I review them with my wife and we nod and say yes, that’s accurate. We aren’t surprised.

Does that mean the 360 degree feedback is all positives? No, not at all. It simply means I am as aware of my downsides as I am of my upsides. In fact, given I have a reasonably low self-regard score, I tend to always be focused on my incompetences and how to improve them.

Where I tended to be insufficient was assessing myself with regards to my annual spending versus what we budget, which is how I unfortunately let lifestyle expansion increase our spending each year.

As a Chief Financial Officer with 20+ years of training, education and work experience with budgets, cash flows, financial statements, etc. I am a firm believer in the statement that what gets measured gets managed. yet I was not measuring my performance against plan on a sufficiently regular basis. How is that? It’s crazy!

What gets measured gets managed

I now prepare and review a regular dashboard of performance against my annual goals, which is divided into the following categories:

  1. Personal goals
    1. Fitness
    2. Reading
    3. Meditation
  2. Professional goals
    1. Career
    1. Writing [novel]
    2. Public speaking
    3. Coaching and teaching
    4. Board of directors and consulting
  3. Financial goals
    1. Cash flow
    2. Net worth
    3. Expenses
    4. Revenue streams
  4. Family
    1. Father
    2. Husband
    3. Sibling, son, friend

I have set goals for each of these areas for myself over the next ten years – beginning with the end in mind. Effectively, by setting goals across this spectrum of categories and monitoring my performance against the dashboard I will be able to achieve my short, medium and long-term goals.

In 2020, this has been working wonders. As a result, this may be the most productive year of my life.

Until next time,

Clint Robert Murphy

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One comment on “What gets measured gets managed

  1. I like your categorization of goals. No doubt it will make you more self-aware and lead to a balanced life. The tagline for my blog “Invest in Life” is meant to inspire self-reflection and balance.