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Why Your People Say, “You Can’t Measure What I Do”

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Mon, Sep 4, 2017

I’m on vacation this week so I’m republishing a couple of blogs I feel have the greatest value and interest.  This particular blog is on measurement and is based on a chapter in one of my favorite authors and books, Aubrey Daniels’ Bringing Out the Best in People.

If you’ve ever wondered why your people say …

“You can’t measure what I do!”  It’s a lament that I hear from managers, owners and you frequently hear from your people.  As discussed in, Pearson’s Law – When it Doesn’t Work measurement is not a panacea for success, although it’s a step in the right direction. 

Bringing_Out_the_Best_in_People-resized-600.jpgAubrey Daniels points out in Bringing Out the Best in People, that this comment is not an attempt to avoid measurement but rather an attempt to avoid punishmentIf measurement has been used in the past to punish people, then people will go to extraordinary lengths to avoid being measured. 

Human behavior is the most essential need for understanding, and too few us recognize the differences between positive and negative reinforcement We need to fully understand the rules of behavior, and how it is a function of consequence.  To examine more about human behavior go to OOPS - Contingency Shaped Or Rule Governed Behavior. You’ll discover why a pat on the back can easily be a negative or positive depending upon the response it brings. If the person responds negatively performance decreases.   You know then your pat on the back was actually a negative reinforcement rather than the positive you intended.

What can you do then to make sure that you can begin measuring performance and alter the aversion to measurement your people are feeling?


You need to recognize that a culture that’s been developed over time isn’t going to change overnight, so the two measures we suggest are not quick fixes.  In fact get the idea of quick fixes for anything out of your head.  They play little or no role in building a business that has strategic discipline and that begins to act in a manner that Jim Collins describes as Disciplined People, Disciplined Thought and Disciplined Action.

  1. Increase the frequency of positive reinforcement
  2. Pair reinforcement with existing measurements

Daniels suggests that if you do these two things you will begin to have a much easier time installing new measurement systems.  Your people will see that your culture is changing.  Positive reinforcement for desirable behaviors will ignite a lightened spirit.   Suddenly your people will enjoy their work and interactions with others.  

Four+Types+of+Reinforcement.jpgHave you ever entered a business and seen a beehive of activity, where people seem to be responding well to each other and despite the activities and deadlines of the day hardly anyone seems to get upset and everyone seems to enjoy working together?  It’s a good likelihood this business has sound principles for reinforcing positive behavior in their business.  How much do you know about human behavior?  My belief is there’s a lot more we all have to learn.  A good place to start is with Daniels' book or go to his blogs

Looking for constructive ways to grow your business, contact  Or take our Four Decisions Needs Assessment and we’ll contact you. 


When I started my career in coaching as an independent E-Myth coach I remember Michael Gerber’s, “You can't manage what you don’t measure, and what you don’t measure, you don’t understand.”  Upon reflection I recognized everything I had measured I was able to succeed in.  When I couldn’t measure it, more often than not I failed.  Pearson’s Law magnifies this.  When you measure and report back, improvement is exponential.  We share Pearson’s Law Revisited next blog blog and why it’s critical to your Organizations Health.

Topics: Bringing Out the Best In People, People, Aubrey Daniels, positive reinforcement, measurement, People Development

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Doug Wick, President

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

- Priorities
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- Meeting Rhythms

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