Contribution is assessed against a standard by watching the game and can therefore be above, on or below standard. The standard is therefore critical in defining a good contribution and can only be set by the leader. The standard should be the highest possible that the individual is capable of at their stage of maturity and experience. Nothing less than excellence at their level should be set by a leader who wants their team to be the best they can possibly be because, not only are they likely to achieve the result, but they will often exceed it.
Results or outcomes are measured against a desired target and can therefore be above, on or below target.
The other difference between contribution and result is time horizons. Results are mostly measured over longer periods e.g. annually or the life of a project or programme. The target tends not to change too much over that time.
Contributions on the other hand should be reviewed more frequently as they may need to change depending on how the result is going. A 90-day period is thought to be optimum between being long enough to make a meaningful input which generates a result and short enough to change should the current contribution prove not to be adding value or the environment and context have changed significantly requiring a different contribution.
So, if it is about unique contributions should a contribution be defined by the accountabilities in the Job Description / Job Role rather than the result? No. The problem with setting objectives based on job description accountabilities is that they are not time bound. They describe the unique contribution in the role over time but not what needs to be delivered in the next 90 days. E.g. a Manufacturing Manager is accountable for the safety on a site and to achieve zero accidents as a goal but that does not describe what he/she need to do in the next 90 days to achieve the goal e.g. implement a housekeeping strategy for 6 areas covering the site.
The other problem is that job description based accountabilities don’t reflect the growth of the person in that role. Someone brand new in the role will be making a different kind of contribution to the person who has years of experience in that role.
So should a contribution describe the day job? Again no, the day job should be almost a given, a minimum expectation from an experienced employee. The 90-day contribution should be described in terms of how the employee is going to grow to give more than status quo. Let’s look at an example:
A key measure for a manufacturing plant is Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) where OEE is:
OEE= % Availability (of equipment) x % of Maximum Rate (throughput) x % Yield (first pass quality efficiency)
The day job for a Manufacturing Operator or Maintenance Technician would be to make sure none of these parameters slip below current rates by following SOPs (Standard Operating procedures), doing lubrication routines, tightening loose pulleys, observe key temperature/ pressure/ flows etc.
A 90-day unique contribution would be to say improve the first pass yield from 85% to 87% by tightening 6 sigma control bands and the standard would be to not let this be at the expense of availability or throughput rate.
So what other shortcomings can appear when setting people’s deliverables?
Good deliverables have:
Finally, there are four types of contribution that may need to be set:
Direct contribution to the result
Contribution to the care and growth of others ( Leadership Contribution)
Contribution to peer group/team ( Team Contribution )
Contribution to growth /change in self ( Self Development Contribution ).
In conclusion, both responsibility (for the result) and accountability (for the contribution) need to be clarified. Clarification needs to be ongoing with results annually and accountability for contribution every 90 / 120 days. Clarification of responsibility needs to precede definition of accountability.
The scoreboard (results) provides the context for specifying the contribution for each person to positively impact the result to be achieved.