Recently, I have had several conversations about metrics, quality and delivery which were quite disturbing. (BTW: These are NOT small companies) We are all human and fall into some of the metrics traps, but there is something we can do about it. We don’t have to stay trapped or trap other people.

During one conversation, my client told me that their Sr. Leadership is so concerned with reporting increased quality metrics, that they have hired more quality experts then people who can actually do the work. I’ll just say it now…that’s CRAZY! And the people who would normally do the work are now tied up in meetings explaining their entire process to people who know nothing about it…even CRAZIER! Just like me, you might think that maybe they need the expertise. In that case there would have to be something new they could learn. Hopefully with all those experts, it would be something amazing or cutting edge. But, that hasn’t happened and NOTHING has changed.

In another case, the group was told to report certain metrics in an area the size of a small box, with no room for notes or supporting information. And, to add insult to injury they were told exactly what to report. Wow!

And in a third case, the team told me they are reporting numbers that don’t make sense anymore because processes have changed so much. That’s so disturbing I can hardly comment.

Here are a few tips that leaders can do to take out the sting of reporting and make it meaningful:

    1. Only Measure What is Important. Over measuring dilutes everything. Numbers start to blur and so do people. Focus on what’s really important and leave the rest to everyday operations. ASK the team doing the reporting what a good measure of success would be. You hired great people, let them contribute by identifying what to measure so you know you are measuring the right things.
    2. Revisit and Update What is being Reported. If your Metrics haven’t changed in years, it’s a huge red flag. Things change and metrics should too. Again, ask your people to update what they think should be reported based on changes to their process, industry and other factors.
    3. Get a Good Process in Place so You DO NOT Turn Reporting into a Giant Time Suck. In one case, the process was so undefined that it turned into a giant time suck, mainly because everyone wanted to do such a good job and was afraid of what would happen if they didn’t. Lots of people got involved in activities that took them away from their daily business. If you need to hire experts or assign someone to reporting, agree on a process, who should work on it and the number of hours that would be reasonable to complete the work. Also agree on what’s in scope, out of scope and reasonable for supporting information.
    4. Categorize your Metrics. Like…if there are compliance numbers you have to hit, identify them as just that so everyone knows they are regulatory; that way when changes happen, new metrics will reflect them.
    5. Leave Space for Notes and Supporting Documentation. When just hitting a number is enough then you are in big trouble. If a number is important enough to be on a scorecard, then you need to understand what contributes to it. If you don’t know, find out. Sometimes, the things behind the numbers are what’s really important and will help you make the best decisions.