I've been an NBA fan since I was a kid. While everyone was talking about the players like LeBron, Bryant, Shaq, Garnett, and others, I was always intrigued by a different type of player. You would often see them on the court for quite a long time, yet their actions were always less impressive—not the most skilled, not the most athletic. In a way, both defensively and offensively, they weren't the ones you would remember after the game.

Yet, they were always mostly there, helping their teams in an almost invisible way to basically be better, and yes, win games. Like one of my all-time favorites, Manu Ginóbili—an Argentine basketball player who had a 16-season NBA career with the San Antonio Spurs, winning four championships, earning two All-Star selections, and leading Argentina to a gold medal in the 2004 Athens Olympics.

While no one can doubt his career record and achievements, you probably can imagine, considering how I introduced him, that you won’t find Manu among the leaders in scoring or assists. Instead, he stood out in a unique metric, consistently ranking best in plus/minus (+/-).

This unique metric measures how many points the team scores versus how many points they allow while a specific player is on the court. Put simply, evaluates if a team performs better with or without a specific player on the court. A brilliant, almost revolutionary way to show how one player helps the team win games, even if their individual stats aren't impressive. The only numeric stat that is capable of highlighting invisible MVPs like Manu's ability to positively influence the game beyond traditional statistics. Introducing a new approach that I wish would be implemented in business.

We live in a world, especially in business, where we are taught to measure everything, which makes performance evaluation resonate across entire organizations, from sales and marketing to operations and research and development. To demonstrate it, we’re going to put the spotlight on employee evaluation, a system designed in a way that often fails to let those like Manu shine, instead highlighting only those who perform statistically well according to traditional criteria.

Employees are often asked to maintain a project management tool in the sake of tracking progress to ensure constant delivery — allowing companies to identify the individual’s pace of task completion, which unfortunately, means almost nothing about real-world impact on contribution to the project success, basically missing all off-line, human-to-human hurdles of bringing project to life.

While some managers in businesses with a broader perspective, like their basketball coach counterparts, know how to identify team members who positively impact beyond what’s officially measured, for others, it is not that intuitive. Additionally, in most cases, one manager's opinion cannot significantly influence overall perception and smart resource allocation. Unfortunately, this still falls into the “results-oriented” argument.

Just imagine a world where the +/- metric is part of a company, and what a company could look like if we assessed contributions by considering whether things are better or worse without certain individuals involved. Think about your business’s invisible MVPs—the ones who may not meet all traditional KPIs but often foster collaboration and solve issues before they escalate.

Those whose contributions currently go unnoticed because they don’t always translate into conventional performance metrics, with a little more focus on the positive or negative impact of their presence, could highlight their true value.

Of course, this straightforward yet impactful approach could extend beyond individual employees to entire departments, systems, campaigns, and other initiatives. By evaluating whether certain elements make things better or worse, companies could more effectively allocate resources and, most importantly, recognize contributions that truly matter.