A really powerful employee measure you should be tracking – but probably not the way you do it

In a world where leaders have seen the payoffs of modernizing how they onboard customers, why does onboarding employees seem like it is still stuck in the past century? I’m not talking about the cool new ways to show appreciation — but in terms of perhaps the most important measure in a team-based environment.

The measure? And the way you probably measure it today.

Is the employee ready to work independently? In our world, that means is the employee ready to work with customers directly without someone chaperoning them. If this is measured at all, we call it ‘time to proficiency’ or ‘time to competency‘ (the term we use at Klever Insight).

Getting this measure right — and reduced — is important because it reduces the stress on the employee (either a new employee learning skills or an existing employee learning a new skill). It reduces stress on the team — after all, while the employee is getting ‘proficient’, his or her team will have to pick up extra work, adding to their already intensely busy and interrupt-driven work day. Shortening the time to competency also improves the customer experience, and directly benefits the organizational bottom line.

Most organizations use a simple proxy to see if an employee is ready to work independently or not. Did the employee pass an exam of some sort? We all know the issues with this approach. In our complex, messy, always-changing customer-interacting world, this is necessary but not sufficient.

There is a much better way.

Embedded in the modern balanced scorecard for customer-facing teams (the Open Customer Metrics Framework) is a powerful new way to measure ‘Time to Competency’. Essentially this says in a team-based environment, the single most important measure of trust is ‘do your peers trust you to work independently’?


Not sure if you have trust or not? Hint: if you hear things like “Oh, oh. Is Phil scheduled to be on a conference call alone with VIP customer Susan? Let’s make sure Sunita is on the call as well just in case…“, then you don’t have trust.

‘Time to Competency’ (as defined above) is a really powerful meta-measure. So many other issues have to be addressed in order for this measure to improve.

  • How well the team shares knowledge and collaborates with each other.
  • A shift from a command and control structure to a team-based environment, where they can look out for each other and hold each other accountable.
  • Having your teams come up with what time to competency means for them, in their situation — rather than a ‘one size fits all’ approach — greatly increases their confidence in the measure.
  • Being accountable to their team makes it far more likely they will not game the system to get arbitrarily good scores, with predictably poor outcomes.

The results can be dramatic.

One global company (very complex support) has seen their ‘time to competency’ go from 141 days to 50 days with this measure, with all the resulting goodness that happens.

Moving to this new measure isn’t easy. Telling your managers you want them to move to this really cool industry standard measure of ‘time to competency’ isn’t going to magically translate into how exactly to make this happen. However, it is worth it.

Need help?

If your managers struggle with this, consider a 30 day trial of Klever Insight software. One of the most popular ‘Leaps’ in our software is calculating and putting into place ‘Time to Competency’.

Contact us to see if you qualify for a low-impact trial (results in 30 days) with Klever Insight software that can calculate ‘Time to Competency’ for your team in this new powerful way.

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