If you want a particular result from someone, measure them. Quantitative tracking of a desired outcome has an astonishing effect of producing results. My dad has often commented "people move in the direction you measure them," and I think he's 100% correct. The challenge in doing so is three-fold:
- Picking the direction
- Creating and maintaining meaningful and relevant measurements
- Creating an appropriate policy that makes it permanent.
Direction is key. As a leader, it's your job to make sure the team is climbing the right hill. And so when setting a direction, make sure the direction contains these things:
- Big time results: make sure the desired outcome is worth all the effort to measurement and track. The juice must be worth the squeeze. Setting a policy to have everyone wash and detail their truck every morning would produce great looking trucks but produce very little value.
- Specific enough: make sure the direction is specific enough to draw focus. Setting a priority to make our field staff more efficient without setting any specific areas of focus will accomplish very little. Focus on one aspect at a time, like reducing deployment time by 10 minutes.
- Attainable: make sure the direction can produce the desired results. Asking a crew with the task of driving to a site that's 45 minutes away in 15 minutes is simply not attainable.
Now that you have the direction established, setting a good measurement is the next step. A good measurement must contain the following:
- Accuracy: an inaccurate measurement is obviously worthless. So however the data is collected, it has to be done is a way that produces accurate results. If there's any guesswork involved, accuracy is compromised.
- Timeliness: the data must be collected in a timely manner. Measuring something 30 days after the event will produce very delayed results. You want data that will impact decision on a daily basis.
- Readability: the data must be presented in a way that all can understand. Producing a 10-page written summary of the results with no actionable items makes for good bedtime reading but will not result in any meaningful change.
To make any changes permanent that have resulted from your measurement and reporting, one must create a policy or system to make sure the results are repeatable. A good policy requires the following:
- Continued measurement: you must continue to measure the desired result or people will eventually forget about it.
- Training: the new policy must be embedded in your training of employees - existing and new employees. This sets the expectation from day 1 and eliminates the excuse "I had no idea I had to..."
- Accountability: to make sure people follow the new policy, accountability is imperative. People are motivated by pain or pleasure.
Let's say we want to reduce our deployment times of the maintenance crews from 7:25 am to 7:15 am (the starting point of 7:25 am was derived from 1 week of tracking deployment). First, you make everyone aware of the target. Next, you measure the target on a daily basis. For every crew leaving the yard after 7:15, stop them and ask "why are you late departing today?" Then, create two charts: (1) Average Deployment Time by Crew, and (2) Leading Reasons for Missing Targeted Departure. Make these charts very visible and available on a daily basis. Make the charts relevant by discussing them in a group setting, recognizing those who are achieving their targets and those that are not. Attack the reasons for late departure and remove any obstacles that can be removed. After a few weeks, if their are repeat offenders, add in some accountability. Eventually, all will be departing on time. Finally, to make this policy stick, it must be continually monitored and communicated.
In closing, I would challenge you to try this. Pick one thing and try this process; either with something in your own life you want to correct or with your team. But make sure you try it for an appropriate period of time. Tracking my dietary numbers for a week really won't produce good results. If you want accountability or help establishing the measurements and measurement tools, I am always available and love creating charts.