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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Metrics Can Kill - Handle with Care

Every July my family creates a fitness challenge to coincide with the Tour de France cycling race.  We take inspiration from the cyclist to reset our year.  Think of it is a resolution reboot.

My goal, i.e. metric, is always to lose a set number of pounds.  Part of the Knappe challenge is to weigh ourselves only once a week, but I felt good and weighed early.   The result was solid, but it wasn't a WOW.  Frankly, it killed my motivation for a bit.  Immediately, I thought, "Should I change my methods to increase results?"   It's only been 5 days!  This is a strong reaction and expectation with little data.

I've seen this happen in my consulting business when metrics arrive and much is read into them.  High, leaders are getting a bonus, the employee's a pizza party, and let's raise the bar for higher!  Low, companies tend to get reactive and institute change.  It can kill morale.   This happens with customer service surveys, employee engagement surveys, agent performance metrics, pretty much anything that is measured.

The highs, lows, and middle scores tell a bigger story.  Before any changes or celebrations, ask smart questions behind the numbers.  Bad - Was it the market?  Did something happen in the world to put customers/employees in a poor mood?   For example, if you raise your service rates, no one is calling you to say, "Thank you." 

When adjusting policies or procedures do so based on trends versus anomalies.  Metrics are helpful in running a business, but they have their place.   Understanding where they fit best in your organization will help you finish strong, every race.  

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