There’s a saying in quality circles, “what get’s measured, improves”. Do you measure performance at your company? I’m actually a big believer in this idea that you can’t improve what you don’t measure. “Metrics” is one of the key buzzwords these days and is thrown around by all sorts of people. Metrics is just a fancy way of saying measure.
Measuring isn’t quite as simple as that though, is it? What do you measure? What about issues which are tough to put numbers on? “We have a great measurement system, but we don’t really use it because it takes two days just to figure out the current measurement.”
First, every business is different. What we measure at my business will be different than what we need to measure at your business. Why is that? Well, for starters, I’m different than you. My business is different than yours. What I’m most interested in seeing improved will be different that what you’d like to see improved. The goals and plans at my business are not the same as at your business.
“You mean we don’t all measure the same thing?”
No. What you should measure in your business is based on your own goals and plans. What you measure at the corporate Board of Directors level will be different than what you measure in your regional sales office, on the manufacturing floor, or in the human resources department.
“Wow, this is getting really complicated.”
No, actually, it’s quite simple to determine the issues to be measured. Drilling down to the root cause to collect the proper data for measurement can sometimes be a bear. But, identifying the major issues to be measured is actually quite simple. What do you want to see improved? What are your big performance issues? What do your customers/owners/managers/auditors/partners/vendors complain about? The real issue is getting your employees to change their behavior so that you can collect meaningful data to improve your systems and performance.
“What does this have to do with my employee’s behavior?”
Everything. Most times, data collection means that employees have to “tattle” on themselves. So the pressure is on you to create an atmosphere without fear, where employees can work on your business without fear of being fired. THAT, is where measuring is difficult. It’s not the measuring, per se, is hard. It’s changing employee behavior that’s really difficult.