Peter Drucker is often misquoted as saying “you can’t manage what you can’t measure”, and whilst he might not have said those words precisely, he certainly did teach the importance of having clarity for both employees and managers.
The Covid 19 pandemic has fundamentally shifted the way the world works and with many businesses and individuals realising that being office-based or working the same hours is not necessarily required, it’s highly likely that many will opt for remote and flexible working options long after we’ve got the virus under control.

At the outset, many managers worried that they’d lose control of their employees working from home and imagined them slacking off, resulting in businesses introducing new systems for monitoring their teams and tracking time. More than a year later, the pendulum has swung the other way with managers – and employees – complaining that work has taken over with the pressure of being “always-on” and “work anywhere, anytime”.

To regain balance, it’s critical that roles are properly defined and that output, not hours, becomes the focus of performance management. The clarity of a job profile and associated performance contract empowers both manager and employee to measure what matters, to establish routines that fit the uniqueness of the circumstances, and to enable boundaries to be maintained.

And, at a time when many businesses have also had to rethink their plans, products, profit models and people strategies, the time is ripe to relook the organisation design (OD) and ensure it’s fit for purpose.

OD Is Often Considered Non-essential

When business is booming, the time is best dedicated to servicing customers rather than ensuring that job profiles remain up-to-date. Role shifts, skills requirements change, and the dailiness of what needs doing is very rarely documented accurately, creating numerous HR challenges.

Key HR Tool

Job profiles are a critical tool for effective HR management and should provide the key information related to the role. Profiles should be built conscious of not incorporating unnecessary barriers to transformation. Ideally, to maximise use across the employee life cycle and to encourage the transition of people and skills into and across the business, job profiles should be built making use of a competency framework and speak to more than just the duties and tasks associated with the role.

By using competencies as building blocks, an organisation can create an integrated talent management network to ensure it hires, develops, and promotes the right people into the right positions. Further, by quantifying what is required and at what proficiency level (input), competency-based job profiles enable organisations to fairly assess and remunerate individuals relative to their unique match, and the requirements of the business.

A competency framework provides a single source of truth and common language to be used across the organisation, in recruitment & selection, skills development, succession planning, and performance management.

Output, Not Time Focus

Whether working in-office, remotely or flexibly, work should be measured on output rather than the number of hours put in. This switch means that individuals can be measured fairly on their productivity, as opposed to who puts in the longest hours.

In addition to providing individuals with the opportunity to adjust their working hours to meet personal preferences, family responsibility, or special circumstances, businesses benefit by focusing management efforts on quality and end-results rather than playing policeman. Remuneration linked to output and performance will benefit both business and individual alike as increased productivity translates to mutual value.

Just as businesses experience changes linked to economic conditions and product life cycles, role outputs are likely to shift more regularly than the associated key performance areas. By drawing up relevant job profiles that focus on competencies and key performance areas, rather than nitty-gritty tasks and duties detail, these living documents have a longer lifespan.

Performance contracts, linked to the job, which specify the expected outputs, can then be drawn up and adapted regularly. Unpredictable conditions and rapidly changing circumstances demand that performance contracts be established – and measured against – over a shorter time span, typically quarterly.


I am certain that most businesses have seen significant changes in the past eighteen months and that many employees have taken on different responsibilities, especially in the wake of restructuring and retrenchments. Are you – and your team – clear on what needs to be done, by whom?

Business and individual performance suffers because of uncertainty and the stress this creates. (Re)define the goalposts and see improvement in employee engagement, performance management, and business results.

If you’re looking for assistance in updating your job profiles and performance contracts to meet the realities of today’s diverse workforce, please get in touch with me on [email protected].

Kind regards,