|How well do your employees
stay on track?
Do* you supervise
people? If so, do you know their "tracking" quotient"?
you always hit the target? How well do you stay on track? How well
do the employees you supervise stay on track? How often do you even
ask yourself these questions?
An employees' ability to start a project and get to the end (goal
or target) has everything to do with productivity, employee
satisfaction, employee salary increases, your success as a
supervisor, customer satisfaction, company profits, and the need for
Have a look at the information below to determine a "Tracking
Quotient" for each of your employees. And if you are an
employee instead of a supervisor or manager, use this information to
assess where you might improve your ability to stay on track.
We believe it is vital to assess how well we or the employees
we supervise stay on track in completing daily work. Here are
We assign a "Tracking Quotient" value from 1 to
5. If your quotient is 5, you stay on track perfectly! If your
quotient is 1, you are unable to stay on track at all. Review
the diagrams below to see how we come up with a "Tracking
Quotient". The "project boundary" lines (see
diagram below) represent a hypothetical line that, when crossed,
would indicate that the person is off track and would require
external intervention from a supervisor or peer to get back on
- Employees who stay on track well are good models for
- Employees who stay on track well are more productive
- Employees who stay on track well are happier and feel
- Employees who stay on track well require much less
- Employees who stay on track well contribute greatly to
meeting group, department, or corporate goals and deadlines
- Employees who stay on track well are fun to work with
5 - The Best
The obvious path to a goal or target is a straight line. This
assumes no distractions and no need for any newly developed
information to be gathered or incorporated into the project.
Anyone rated 5 would always proceed directly to the goal with no
course variations (see the next diagram below). Very few people
will be able to complete tasks without the need for some course
corrections along the way. Anyone who could be rated 5 on our
scale probably ought to have a psychiatric examination to see if
in fact, they are actually a computer! Consider a quotient of 5
to be the goal but don't expect most to ever reach it.
4 - Extremely Good
This diagram illustrates a person who proceeds from the start
of a project or task to the goal in a slightly meandering way.
What is important to recognize here is that this individual has
the ability to almost always self-correct their course.
They have the ability to constantly reassess the location of the
target and where they are headed in relation to the target. They
then correct their course with little or no outside
supervisorial intervention. Note that as the blue line proceeds
from left to right towards one of the project boundary lines, a
small orange dot emerges and the blue line changes course,
staying within the project boundaries. The orange dots represent
some force or talent within the individual to recognize a course
correction is necessary. It is probable that this person
constantly asks the question, "What was the problem I set
out to solve?" They probably constantly seek new input as
they move the project or task along. They probably have the
ability to quickly gather good information, even about topics
they know nothing about. And they probably have a highly
developed ability to stay focused.
If you encounter an employee you would rate 4 on our scale, try
to spend lots of time with him or her to find out what skills,
talents, and work habits they use in their daily work. Satisfy
yourself that you know why they are so successful at completing
their work. This will give you an storehouse of information that
you can then share with others. As a supervisor, if you don't
know why this person does such good work, then you will have no
perspective within which to evaluate why others do poor work.
You should also try to give this person increasingly more
difficult and more responsible tasks. It is probable that this
person could quickly emerge as a leader in your company.
You will probably find very few people that you can rate this
high in your company.
3 - Very Good
This is is the area in which we would expect most employees to
fall. Many times they complete projects like those with a
tracking quotient of 2 - they get from beginning to end without
supervisorial intervention. Sometimes, however, they get off
track (represented by the magenta line crossing the project
boundary lines). The blue circles represent some kind of
intervention required from a supervisor or manager to get the
person back on track
Let's examine a simple example for clarification. You have
assigned an employee the task of determining the location of
stores within 5 miles of your business. You learn after three
days that the employee is compiling an exhaustive list of all
stores, including the type of store, a complete list of it's
inventory, lists of the names of all of it's employees, the
store's telephone numbers, square footage, paint color, and
every other imaginable fact about each store. At this point you
intervene and inform the employee that all you really
wanted were auto parts stores and that all you wanted to know
was where they were so that you could send you parts manager out
to do some comparative pricing. In this case, the employee got
off track due to a lack of sufficient information about the
goals of the project. At this point, this employe changes his
course and get's back on track. There are a million reasons why
we get off track and most are legitimate. But what is really
important here is to note the location of the blue circle
relative to the boundary line in the diagram above. Notice that
the path of the employee is not too far outside the boundary
line before the supervisor becomes involved (blue circle). If
the supervisor has no mechanism in place to assess how employees
are progressing in their tasks, and if an employee gets off
track and does not know it, then that employee will never get
back on track. Getting off track is normal. Staying off
track is not and is more often the fault of the supervisor than
(Here is the diagram again so you don't have to scroll
back up the page)
Notice in this diagram that the person crosses the project
boundaries twice on the way to their target but that they self
corrected their own course three other times along the way
(orange dots). This is critical information to evaluate about
the person. Why are they OK sometimes and not other times? In
our example above, we demonstrated that the lack of information
about the goal was part of the problem. Perhaps when the
employee gets off track, the employee is ill. Perhaps they are
distracted by family or personal problems. Perhaps they think
the target is somewhere else. Perhaps they are unhappy with
their working conditions or salary? Perhaps they are involved in
a new romance (a surefire way to be distracted!). Perhaps they
are spending their time and energies working of hidden agendas.
Whatever the reasons, it is important for the supervisor to
recognize that the employee is getting off track and its it
important to try to ascertain why. The "why" is how we
help our employees grow.
It is also important to gauge the rate of how often an employee
gets off track so that you can tell if s(he) is getting off
track more or less frequently. If s(he) is getting off track
more frequently, then some outside influence has started
influencing the employees performance. With most employees, the
rate of self correction will increase with time and experience.
If this is not the case, it's time to find out why.
This diagram also suggests that you, as a supervisor or
manager, need to have some way of evaluating where your
employees are relative to the targets or goals.
If the frequency of boundary crossing is excessive, even though
this employee can correct his or her own course from time to
time, the supervisor needs to reevaluate the suitability for
this project assignment for this employee.
2 - Poor
Notice that this person is crossing the project boundaries
frequently and also notice the conspicuous absence of any self
correction (no orange dots). This employee typically occupies a
great deal of the supervisors time. Assuming that the supervisor
gave adequate guidance to the employee about the project and
it's components during the earlier interventions, we can see
that the employee still gets off track a lot in later stages of
the project. The employee eventually hits the target but not
without constant redirection from the supervisor. This condition
can exist with employees who have undeveloped job skills. If the
condition persists with time and experience on the job,
something is radically wrong and the supervisor needs to make a
new plan! If the condition improves with time and experience
(that is, if you begin to notice the employee correcting their
own course), then you're both doing just fine!
Keep in mind that the employee who seems always off track is
not only taking up a lot of your time, s(he) is also dragging
down the remainder of your team. Others in the workgroup are
probably working harder to take up the slack. Do the employee,
yourself, and your team a favor by quickly reassigning this
employee to work tasks that they can do successfully.
1 - Unacceptable
We have all seen employees from time to time who just go of
into orbit somewhere and never come back. The solution, in our
opinion, is simple here.