“Tracking and Measuring Activities”
Last column I wrote about creating a plan for 2015, which is critical for success in business as well as your personal life. Today I want to address how to make the plan come alive by addressing metrics – the activities you will track and measure.
The components to a complete strategic plan include: 1) setting goals, 2) developing a strategy on how to achieve those goals, 3) deciding on an implementation plan and what resources are required, 3) tracking which activities are required to implement the strategy, 4) finally, defining metrics which can measure success.
Remember what Jeff Cooke, Cooke Insurance Group said: “What gets measured gets done”. If there are no metrics in place to see how you are doing on your activities, you could get pulled off course by what we call the “shiny penny syndrome” (Oh look, a shiny penny. That looks like more fun than what I am doing.)
As we all know, it is so easy to get distracted by more interesting or unimportant activities that take our attention away from the plan and from engaging in what is most important. Distraction by other activities will take you off course from achieving the goals, which will ultimately cause the plan to fail.
Metrics are a measure of performance. With established numbers in place that measure activities it is easy to determine the probability of achieving a particular goal. The target numbers are based on historical data, which come from “best-estimates” derived from statistical data.
Metrics will give you accurate measurements about how the process is functioning and provide a basis for improvements. Only when people can express what they are doing in terms of numbers will behaviours become meaningful.
Metrics should be clearly defined so that an organization can benchmark its success. One way to keep metrics understandable is to use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based) model. The achievable step in this model is especially important. If employees feel the targets cannot be achieved, they will feel defeated even before they begin.
A manager should also be careful what is measured. Incentives tied to strong metrics will cause people to focus on that specific part of the work. This could result in them neglecting other factors that might make a goal more achievable. Organizations need to be careful of any measurement that leads people to neglect other important factors.
A corporation with whom I worked had a branch where people were working extremely hard and the manager was asking for additional staff in the service area. But, the numbers showed they had enough personell to handle the workload.
Customer satisfaction in that branch was the lowest, targets were not being met and customer complaints were higher than average. After investigating, I discovered that the service manager was measuring the technical people based on how many service calls the reps took. The more service calls, the better they looked.
“Tell me what you are measuring and I will tell you what I will be doing”
The result was that they were doing fixes as quickly as possible so they could get on to the next. This caused more breakdowns which in turn caused more service calls, resulting in higher workloads.
There is power in metrics. Be sure to chose the right ones and then analyze and use the results constructively!
My question for managers this week: “What activities are you tracking that will produce the behaviours required to successfully achieve your goals?”
Joseph Sherren, CSP, HoF
President of Ethos Enterprises Inc. & Gateway Leadership Inc.