Measures are for the team, not managers

In the last post, we walked through the importance of a guidepost statement that the team looks to for guidance, in the absence of clarity.

The next step in our journey to creating a modern set of measures is to make sure you have a set of “guiding principles.”

Guiding principles are the foundations you set as you build the measurement framework for your team. These guiding principles help you select the measures by which your team judges the success of their collaboration, processes, and initiatives.

Notice I said how “your team judges its success,” not how you judge them. That leads me to the first guiding principle I find especially effective in motivating teams to do great work: Measures are for teams, not managers.

What do I mean by that?

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Guidepost statements – critical for creating modern measures that matter

The best-run organizations not only have a strategy everyone understands, but they connect employee behaviors to achieving that strategy. This becomes very powerful when each and every employee is engaged by a compelling purpose and knows what to do in order to achieve that purpose.

While vision and mission statements are great for calm, contemplative moments, these are few and far between for most people in the thick of a busy workday, particularly in the interrupt-driven world of Support and Shared Services. Today, with volumes of information available to both customers and employees, deciding what to do in the absence of clear direction can become paralyzing. If your team is in the middle of raging seas in a life raft in pitch darkness, with winds howling all around and no way of knowing which way to go, how do they decide what to do next? The guidepost statement will guide their actions.

Read moreGuidepost statements – critical for creating modern measures that matter

Seek to Understand before seeking to Solve

Over the last few months, we’ve been working with a number of organizations that are fundamentally re-thinking what they should measure, and why. I’m amazed that, time and time again, organizations try to measure success with metrics that don’t align with what they’re trying to accomplish.

This often happens because the underlying issues you want to solve depends on what you see. Some people call this perspective; I like to think of it as your lens.

Phil Verghis

When our team works with clients on data-driven continual process improvement, we examine their teams and processes through a variety of lenses to gain a multi-dimensional view of how well they work together and how they function within the enterprise. That’s how we uncover unexpected truths.

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See around corners with your Service DNA

We believe it’s always better to improve a process than simply follow it. But, many times, we see one of two things: First, organizations try to automate a process before optimizing it. Unfortunately, automating a mess simply makes it messier, faster. The second scenario, which is harder to spot, is when the process itself may be optimally designed, but it is unnatural for the organization to follow the process. There are too many obstacles that set them up for failure.

Over the years, as we worked with leaders to get a sense of their organizational capabilities, we really struggled to find this blind spot. We focused on the usual suspects—people, process, and technology—as we assessed the state of their business and their overall capabilities. But we found that these three elements weren’t enough to give us a sense of who they were and what they were capable of achieving as an organization.

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Have you hugged your local consultant today?

There’s a dirty little secret in the world of independent consultants and startups: It’s feast or famine, even in the best of times.

The reason this is such a well-kept secret is that when people hear the term “consultant” or “startup,” they think of well-funded organizations like Deloitte, McKinsey or startup unicorns that dominate popular imagination. They don’t think of their marketing copywriter or the consultant with deep expertise who quickly solves specific pain points. But in 2020, it’s just those businesses—those “local” consultants —who are feeling the pain of pandemic shutdown. And may need a hug.

Over the summer, Comatch polled 1000 independent consultants to see how COVID had impacted business. While we may have guessed that travel and leisure consultants are expected to take a 51% hit this year, the numbers are painful for many others. The research estimated that marketing consultants would experience a 37% decrease in earnings; high tech and IT would drop 39%; and strategy consultants’ earnings would decrease by 44%. Since many expenses are fixed, these percentages translate to even more pain than the numbers show.

Read moreHave you hugged your local consultant today?

Seek to understand before you seek to solve…

It’s the time of year when organizations review what they’ve accomplished, evaluating achievements against goals set in January. Often, this navel-gazing will result in revised projected budgets, staffing changes, or executive bonuses. Even when things seem to be going relatively well, it’s easy to (mistakenly) assume there is a good alignment between what the leaders project and what employees experience in the trenches.

2020 has gummed up the gears of business even more than usual

Read moreSeek to understand before you seek to solve…

What’s Your Time-to-Smile Number?

Customer success and support execs often are the bearers of bad news for an organization. When things go wrong, they are the proverbial “one throat to choke.” In an enterprise, this is particularly galling because many of the issues are not within the control of the customer service/support person. Buggy products, incorrectly calibrated expectations during the sales cycle and disruptions anywhere in the delivery process can cause frustration for customers. It’s no wonder that “customer satisfaction” is not a measure they like, particularly if too much of one’s bonus is tied to this measure.

To help the organizational silos better understand that everyone exists to care for the customer, there is a new metric that requires your attention. We call it “Time-to-Smile.”

It’s rooted in the idea that “we’re all in this together.”

Read moreWhat’s Your Time-to-Smile Number?

Want to be more customer focused? Stop focusing so much on customers.

Is it possible for someone to be too customer-focused? 

Why, yes, it is.

I’m reminded of a company we worked with a few years ago. As a highly respected global leader of specialty equipment that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, with the total annual contract value of the sale reaching much higher than that, its customers expected immediate responses, focused attention, and superior service. The manufacturer’s team of experts spent a lot of time and money ensuring the customers got exactly what they wanted and needed. 

Read moreWant to be more customer focused? Stop focusing so much on customers.

They Can’t All Be Winners: 4 Tips for Avoiding Chosen One Syndrome

In 1998, the Harvard Business Review published an article entitled, “The Set-Up-to-Fail Syndrome,” which described a scenario where employees perceived as weak performers “lived down” to their detractors’ lowest expectations. The syndrome was compared to the “Pygmalion Effect,” by which someone achieves greatness because others believe they are capable of doing so.

Read moreThey Can’t All Be Winners: 4 Tips for Avoiding Chosen One Syndrome