Advantages of ProMES
ProMES offers a number of advantages. The first important advantage is the system's ability to provide both a single index of productivity as well as subindices of the important indicators of productivity. Subindices are necessary to allow personnel to see which aspects of productivity are good versus those that need improving. The single index allows the productivity of a complex unit to be summed into one easily communicable number. This number is necessary to help management, supervisors, and unit personnel gain an overall sense of how the unit is doing.
Validity is another essential part of a successful productivity measurement system. Several components are involved in a valid system. Completeness is the first such component. The measurement system must include all important aspects of a unit's work. In ProMES, these aspects become the objectives that provide the basis for the system. The objectives are determined through careful examination by unit personnel. To insure completeness, they are also reviewed by organizational management.
Another important part of the validity of a system is its accuracy. ProMES produces objectives and indicators that are accurate measures of productivity. This accuracy comes from the extensive involvement of organizational personnel in the system development. In addition, management reviews the system to insure accuracy.
Maintaining the relative importance of the different functions in the unit is another aspect of validity. The contingencies provide the ability to do this. Relative importance is reflected in their overall slopes, and this is carried through in the effectiveness calculations. In order for a system to be valid it must also account for non-linearities. ProMES does this by allowing for the development of non-linear contingencies.
The next important advantage of ProMES is its flexibility. A system must be flexible so it can respond to changes in priorities in the organization. A change in management or in the environment could cause such priority changes to arise. ProMES has the ability to deal with such changes. Most often, a change in some of the contingencies is all that is necessary. In the example of the circuit boards, if attendance became more important, the contingency could simply be changed to reflect this. If required, objectives and indicators could be modified to deal with more extensive changes.
Units in an organization will most likely be engaged in different functions. ProMES has the ability to directly compare these units even though they are doing different things. An effect of the direct comparison is that it allows for competition across units based on each unit's percent of maximum productivity. In situations where such comparisons have been made, this competition was clearly present between units. It was friendly in nature and the effect on productivity appeared to be positive.
In order for a productivity measurement system to work, organizational personnel must accept it. Because of the involvement by unit personnel in the building of the system, ProMES has a strong advantage in this area. The products, indicators, and contingencies are all developed by the unit personnel. Not only do they develop the system, but they also have to defend their work to higher management. This causes them to develop a sense of ownership of the system.
ProMES has a number of positive motivational properties. It is a system that both measures productivity and improves it. ProMES does this in numerous ways. One way is by increasing the amount and quality of the feedback to unit personnel. Without the ProMES system many units may receive objective feedback on some of their activities, but not others. This data may not be complete and may be uncontrollable by unit personnel. Also, the units may not be aware of the level of output expected of them. More frequent, specific, and accurate feedback enhances performance (Annett, 1969; Ilgen, Fisher, & Taylor, 1979; Ivancevich, Donnelly, & Lyon, 1970; Pritchard, Montagno, & Moore, 1978). Such feedback is possible with the use of the ProMES formal feedback system. Evaluative information about how good or bad the unit is doing is also contained in the ProMES feedback. This is much more effective than just providing descriptive information on how much was done (Dockstader, Nebeker, & Shumate, 1977; Hammond & Summers, 1972).
This system also provides feedback that is positive. Positive feedback is of particular importance (Feather, 1968; Ilgen & Hamstra, 1972). Many people have reported that prior to ProMES, they often received feedback only when problems arose and almost never were told they were doing a good job. In addition, the positive feedback appeared to help them increase their sense of competence at doing their work. This should also help improve motivation.
The ability of personnel to see the results of their efforts is another motivational feature of ProMES. Most jobs are structured in such a way that doing a better job does not show up in any measurable way. With ProMES, the connection between the actions of the unit and their level of productivity is improved by the frequency of the feedback. For example, when changes have been made to improve an indicator, more interest is taken in that indicator the following month. When an indicator does improve, there seems to be considerable satisfaction. This allows personnel to see how their efforts have increased productivity.
When using ProMES, units become accountable for their productivity. The unit cannot ignore the concrete performance history that is provided by the regular measurement of productivity and the public nature of the data. A source of motivation is generated by the fact that the data exist. A unit wants to look good, and they know they will have to answer for it if they do poorly. This accountability also seems to make personnel more objective about problem areas. There is more desire to find positive solutions and less of a tendency to make excuses.
Role clarification is another advantage of this system. Through the process of developing, refining, and getting approval for the objectives, indicators, and contingencies, personnel are helped to more clearly understand their roles. (e.g., Rizzo, House, & Lirtzman, 1970). Through the discussions to develop the system, unit personnel determine what their objectives should be. Disagreements will surface which can then be resolved. Expected output levels are discussed and consensus is achieved. The final step is the review of these decisions by higher management. They are debated and a formally approved system results. At the completion of this process, the units have a much clearer picture of what their objectives are, what they should be focusing on to achieve these objectives, what is expected of them in each area, and what is good and bad productivity in these areas. This process of role clarification should have positive motivational effects in and of itself.
An increase in motivation should also be seen because this system helps goal setting (e.g., Latham & Yukl, 1975; Locke, Shaw, Saari, & Latham, 1981; Tubbs, 1986). A system like ProMES makes it easier to have a formal goal setting program by having a single index of productivity upon which to set goals. In addition, just having the feedback makes personal and/or informal goal setting much easier to do. This should have positive effects on motivation.
Another very important advantage of ProMES is its ability to provide a considerable amount of information about the work. This helps guide unit personnel. The system indicates which activities the personnel should be doing and the importance of these different activities. It provides the ability to see what is good and bad productivity in each area. ProMES also helps the unit know how they are doing overall.
The ability to develop productivity enhancing strategies is facilitated by the information provided by the system. It permits early identification and diagnosis of problems. With the feedback reports, personnel are able to see when productivity is starting to slip in a given area. These problems can then be dealt with before they become serious. ProMES allows personnel to know when the problems are fixed, and it encourages persistence to resolve the problems. This appears to significantly reduce the tendency to ignore problems until they become serious. Finally, a formal, quantitative statement of priorities for increasing productivity that is useful in guiding action to improve productivity is developed by the system (see Pritchard, et al., 1989; Pritchard, 1990).
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