How measuring performance helps improving performance?
Athlete train to improve their performance by measuring the timing of their lap completion with a sport watch or timer. The feedback from the stopwatch tell them whether their performance have improve or worsen from a previous run, this allows them to reflect whether a change of technique is more or less effective.
Doctors measure the blood pressure, heart rate, body temperature of a patient in order to understand the condition of the body and know what to prescribe.
Teachers use exam score to gauge the student's level of understanding, to gauge whether a teaching method is effective and know which concept to strengthen in the student.
The way to use performance metrics to improve performance.
Step 1: Setting the right metrics
If you want to improve in anything, set some metrics by which you could measure your performance. The metric needs to make sense; not knowing how to set the correct metrics can be counter effective.
For example, measuring the hours of work spent on the job tells you nothing unless you measure at the same time the quality or quantity of the output. Further, because production capacity of a worker maybe sapped with intense work, it is necessary to know whether the success is sustainable or will cause other problems like stress and health problems in workers.
Some Sample Metrics:
For students: Test scores
For Business: Revenue per week
For workers: Customer/Boss satisfaction score for each assignment. (Ask for it)
The metric should motivate you or your workers/students/peers, not demoralize them. They should help you find better ways of doing things, not encourage you to use more brute.
Step 2: Monitoring
Evaluate yourself at an interval that is just right for the activity you are measuring. For example, an athletic measure his timing after every lap; a doctor measures the heart rate over a time span of one minute and a business owner may measure the sales weekly, monthly or quarterly.
Step 3: Deriving insights from your measurement (metrics)
This requires someone with experience in the field.
A doctor knows what heart rate, blood pressure is normal because he has data about numerous other patients male or female, children, adult or elderly when they are sick or well.
A teacher know what questions are considered easy or hard and what exam scores are reasonable and what concepts are being tested.
A business consultant knows what metrics are considered good or bad for a business of whatever scale, size or industry and what action can be taken to improve those metrics.
Seeking help from a professional will allow you to derive insights from your measurement and quickly identify the actions to take to improve those metrics.
However, when a professional is not avaiable, you can try to derive insights by a few ways.
1) Online research to learn what the professionals know.
2) Compare your current measurement to your past. If your sales are better or worse than your previous week, it tells you something has changed in you or the environment, identify what has changed and its effect.
3) Compare your measurement to other people or other businesses in the same industry. This tells you there is something different between you and others, identify what is the difference and their effects.
Step 4: Take action to improve
Do not stop at measurement for measurement sake or it will be a waste off time. Action to improve must be accurately identified and carried out to see improvement in whatever you want to do.