Let’s Disrupt Performance Reviews with a +Plus / -Minus System

I have always been fascinated with the concept of sports analytics in recruiting and now I have added performance management to the list. Several professional sports use the plus/minus concept to evaluate the contribution of players to the success of their team. The measurements are slightly different for basketball ( a high scoring game) and Hockey and Soccer (which are both low scoring games). A Plus (+) measures how much a team scores while that player is on the court/field/ice. Meanwhile, a Minus (-) measures how many points the team allows when that same player is on the court/field/ice (depending on the sport).

For me the intrigue is that in many sports a player, who’s stats and contributions are often overlooked can be a major contributor in the actual outcome of a game. For example in NHL Hockey this year, four of the top ten plus/minus ratings are held by four defensemen on the Boston Bruins. This same team is on pace to break their own points and wins record along with potentially setting an NHL record. In the NBA, Evan Mobley of the Cleveland Cavaliers ranks 65th in scoring in the league, however his defensive stats rate first and the projected impact of this rates him as 7th in the league in impacting wins and losses.

So where am I going with this?

Most organizations have a key metric that drives performance reviews and potential financial rewards. In Consulting, Accounting and the Legal professions the use of billable hours and realization drives performance and promotion discussions. But what if this is the wrong metric? What if there were a plus/minus measurement that could show the contribution of an individual’s work towards the organization’s success or failure?

When my daughter played volleyball the key stats were “Kills” and points won on serve, but she was a Libero ( a defensive player responsible to return the serve or first shot from the opposing team). Not the most glamourous of positions but one that was critical to the teams performance. If she was only rated on scoring stats she would not be viewed positively and certainly not compared to the outside hitter with 19 kills for a match. In business there are many critical contributors that don’t have stats that at first glance measure up to star or valued performance. But remove these players and you are doomed for failure. We have become myopic in glorifying one or two statistics that organizations believe are the drivers of their success. Maybe these are not the right things to measure… Food for thought!

So the challenge today is to rethink metrics and what we measure in relationship to performance and outcomes. Look beyond the metrics you use today to see where the real differences are and the real difference makers. For example do your employees get credit for making sacrifices to help others by mentoring or pitching in to take extra work off another team member? Do you measure this?

What other items fail to get measured or are measured with a lower level of importance?

Sometimes the biggest scorer fails to contribute to the team when it needs it most. Do they take a “minus” or hit for this in performance reviews. I already know the answer and so do you.

So lets rethink what truly matters in organizational outcomes. What do you think? Inquiring minds would like to know!


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