Imagine I just walked into your office to talk metrics
The conversation starts here:
"We need to have a quick chat about the metrics you use. I realize you are busy but the next few minutes will save you much more time and I’m sure will help you and your business.
Beware of the data comfort zone
So, how are things at the office? Great, I thought you seemed comfortable and well. So, is everyone happy here with their performance?
That’s right, everyone can be a little bit better. And sure it is always a battle to keep everyone’s performance to their highest, due to life outside of work and emergency situations.
Tell me a little more about your reporting structure here. Yes, yes, Ok, I see, so you are saying that daily reports highlight urgent matters – great, and the weekly reports keep everyone on their toes with motivation – super.
Yes, I know the monthly and quarterly reports are a drag but I agree they do keep most people informed and helps ensure the strategy of the business is being followed.
Oh yes, it’s true that there are some “meaningless” metrics in there but the leadership seem to think those are also important right?
Well you seem to be doing, uh well, normal so far.
Exploring data quality in measures
So tell me a little more about your data quality. Oh, yes, that’s right it is hard to rely on everything you see, in fact I want to come back to that later. Yes, yes, well I think you have the basics covered and it’s great to see some of this is now automated.
Asking the tough questions for performance
When did you last consider what you're really doing with all those reports you're managing?
Yes, I realize you intend to improve different things by x% that's great, and I know that you're asking for more data to support that.
Have you considered asking yourself what have you really done with the data you already have?
Yes, I realize it is needed to produce the reports and keep things on track and help feed other reports, but I am asking what action does it all drive. That is right; it drives the important decisions for the business. But is it also true to say it seems to only drive the decisions that are currently measured?
What the data should be doing for you
This brings me to another point, just how effective are your metrics really? I hear you talk about how you use all of this data, but what is it really doing for you?
How is the data you collect really delivering bottom line effects? Oh great you can show this answer? Super, but not on every metrics I guess, is that right also?
Which of these metrics are pure vanity metrics or outdated benchmarks? That’s right there are only a few of them but how are these used within the business to skew opinions at the leadership level or provide a false insight?
Creating real change through action and data
I see you have started to become a little restless. Yes I know your presentation needs to be finished and I seem to be opening more doors than closing existing problems for you. But, honestly speaking, is this not the true purpose of why you come to work in the first place? Why not make a real difference and improvement instead of just a nice report?
How to start sharing honest data
So, why not start today by showing and sharing data inaccuracy? That’s right, the frequency of measurement and sample size plus accuracy and repeatability of the whole measurement system.
If you want a great career, and not an OK one, then show me right now some reports and metrics that are no longer needed because you have SOLVED the challenge it measured. – Super, so you have few here, but are these enough? What else should and could you be showing me today?
I see you have started to take some notes now. Yes, that is the sign of a true leader that cares and wants to make more than a pay check. I see you want to make a real difference with your business.
Making data personal for management insights
Whilst you make your notes on our conversation here, add another one…How do you capture the information that does not find its way into the metrics? I am talking about the depth of relationships and team spirit you have here on a daily, weekly basis.
Those employee annual and monthly surveys are a start but maybe spending the time talking and engaging with the workers on a daily walk around will give you much more than 2 years’ worth of survey collection.
I see you have started to lean forward and appear more enthused. Yes it is great to see so much potential here isn’t it. But you are right of course, you cannot change everything overnight. Well, unless you want to enough.
You see the support from your team will shine through; the obstacles you meet will be many, especially within a large business. Too many “empires” and personalities clash into the “politics” of business. So, my advice to you is to create new allies, stand by your guns, morals, principles and speak the uncomfortable truth.
Yes, I realize you have commitments and obligations outside work that need paying on a monthly basis. Yet do not be too scared of losing your job. Indeed by making these changes and asking these questions you might find a boost to your career.
Make the measures emotionally effective
How does your data reflect the people within the business? People are not pure logical functions but actual humans with emotions and a variety of motivations? You see, Spock is just from Star Trek and you should not expect people to be just like him. Humans are much more complex than that.
You see data and analytics can become a race to the bottom of just pure numbers! If your business just manages numbers, then employee churn rate will change and staff engagement levels will slide with them.
I see you are moving around on your seat a little. That’s right these truths do make us feel a little edgy don’t they. The culture of the business is made from the people within it. Culture is not something you just inherit. You need to be brave and allow the business culture to develop. Human culture has developed over time so why not your business?
Yes I hear the point you just raised. Indeed you seem to be measuring only what can easily be measured. This is not however the true big picture. What you are creating is the risk of a big data mess.
Ready for real change with metrics
How will you get to the root of all these new challenges? How more often will your meetings be just going through the motions? If your department is under your own responsibilities then how do you look at each other’s eyes and recognize that half of what is discussed in these meetings was quite frankly a load of yes what we both know what that meant.
Summary thoughts for change
Use the current data you have. But create real change with it. If your metrics are not improving behavior and customer experiences whilst securing your business finances then create metrics that do. It can be simple and effective. You can see rapid and instant positive change for your company almost overnight.
Let me know if you want to continue with this conversation later, but in the meantime, I see you have some things to get finished, changed and a started.
Have a great fun day and be the leaders you always wanted to be. Bridge the gaps between logic and emotions to make a real difference in everyone’s day and the bottom line."
You just had a virtual conversation with me - James Doyle the owner of JAMSO.
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