#45 The dangers of focusing on productivity and metrics

Metrics are very alluring for managers. Our software tools are full of data and reporting… with just a few clicks we might get the magic mix of numbers that will give us control.

But for staff it’s a different story. Too often metrics are used as a kind of straight jacket. Work becomes narrowly defined, devoid of nuance and complexity. Targets creep ever higher. And as the pressure mounts, inevitably people will try to game the system.
Over coffee Pilar and Tim try to imagine an environment where managers and teams are aligned on how to use metrics thoughtfully to make their work better.

1:00 min We clarify whether we are discussing productivity, work output, tracking or metrics.

3:00 Industry standard or easy to measure metrics aren’t always best suited to the particular need of our team and business.

5:00 Tim shares an example of how focussing too much on a metric (time to close support tickets) had a negative impact on the quality of his team’s output.

7:40 Can we design systems that can’t be gamed? Or can we design systems that people don’t want to game because they like how it improves their work?

11:30 Instead of closely tracking individuals and their tasks, monitoring can function well at an overall system or process level. Tim shares an example of how this approach eventually lead his support team to higher productivity without putting individuals under pressure.

14:10 Pilar highlights that the rules and frameworks should not be a straight jacket. They should be designed to liberates workers by providing guidance. In the context of metrics this means we need to be clear on what the numbers will be used for and we need to communicate those intentions to our teams.

16:10 It is so easy to toggle some settings in our software systems and spit out numbers. But have we done the work to identify what measures will help us? Are our teams aligned on this goal? Pilar asks software designers to consider adding warning labels to their settings and metric dashboards.

What about you, dear listener? Do you incorporate metrics into the way you manage your teams? Have you created a perfect system where the numbers couldn’t be manipulated? We’d love to hear from you.

Get in touch through our Contact Form https://managementcafepodcast.com/contact/  or tell us on Twitter – we are @managementcaf 

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