Make sure you are measuring the right data in key performance indicators KPI’s

KingConsulting - HR Consultants Sydney

Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) a waste of time and energy if they are not right and demotivate employees?

If the KPI's only produce statistical information and trends and are not directly related the employees ability to impact profitability, they are a waste of time. If only hard KPI's (such as the number of calls answered) are the only item used to measure individual performance, the view is skewed.

Therefore, KPI's need to be analysed for other factors such as:

  • Does the employee actually have proactive ability to effect the outcome?
  • Are there any economic conditions effecting the outcomes?
  • Have the employees got all the tools, skills and training to positively effect the KPI's they are being measured on?
  • If an employee is reaching a target, are they doing so the right the desired way?

Here is an example of one we have been involved with:

Our team were brought in, to analyse the statics of a high-volume telecommunications contact centre team.

We were there to independently assess who were the best performing contact centre staff and who needed performance improvement. There had been several complaints from employees stating the results were skewed and unfair.

Sample of the results comparing two individuals:

We reviewed the statics and Leah (fake name) was on surface the outstanding performer. She answered 100 calls per day. James (fake name) was the poorest performer. He only answered half the number of calls per day.

Leah was to be chosen as the star performer of the month and awarded a prize. James was to be performance managed based on these statistics.

Further analysis and the findings:

We asked to be given a little more time to investigate these variables. We also wanted to come up with a solution for achieving higher performance across the whole team, not just James. What we uncovered will not surprise anyone who has experienced calling a telco.

Leah's callers invariably had to ring more than once, due to not having their call resolved. They often requested to be escalated to a team leader or manager too.

Her callers complained that she was very rude and unhelpful. A few also claimed she had disconnected the call before resolving their issue.

A more sophisticated call cue analysis system would have identified this trend. Alternatively,having a supervisor paying closer attention to how the calls were being handled would have identified this issue.

We had been present in the contact centre and heard Leah's manner with customers. How she spoke about the callers to her nearby associates was also interesting.

It was not with any degree of courtesy or respect for the callers. With comments along the lines of: "oh man, some of these people are so stupid they can’t even operate a simple mobile phone."

In investigating James' calls it was discovered, he in fact resolved each call first time. James' received compliments from callers. He never escalated a call to a team leader or manager to resolve.

We heard James speak to the customers in a courteous, patience and respectful manner. He demonstrated a real eagerness to resolve the caller’s problem as efficiently as possible.

Learning outcome for the contact centre manager as well as ourselves in this deeper analysis:

The statistics only give part of the picture. It is equally important to look at the soft KPI's such as the behaviour. Such as, the way each contact centre officer behave towards callers.

Individuals attitudes come across, even over the phone. James attitude towards solving callers problems made him the real star. Leah was a real problem.

Imagine if the contact centre manager had acted on performance and management of the team, solely on the hard KPI's, the statistics. Leah would have been seen as the star the one whose behaviour should be modelled by others. She may even have been promoted to a leadership position teaching others how to behave as she did.

James may have been performance managed and potentially even asked to leave the contact centre. If one call resolution and customer centric KPI's were also used, James would have been the clear winner. If Supervisors were listening in more often on calls these issues would have been identified earlier.

Leah's attitude would have been apparent to the supervisors. They would have been able to identify the issues with her calls. This would have resulted in less angry customers. Reduced the number of repeat calls. Identifying where Leah needed more training and counselling on her performance. She may have been redirected and found a more helpful approach.

The resulting changes:

The company had a mission to have one call resolution and customer satisfaction. As a result of looking deeper into the performance metrics, they added in the desired behaviours as soft KPI's.

Supervisors were tasked with random call monitoring of their team. This is called double jacking, where the supervisor listens in on the call. They were provided a checklist with weightings on the preferred outcome and communication.

The supervisors were trained on performance management. A regular training schedule was set up for the contact centre team.

Training was not just focused on new product offerings. It would cover soft KPI's as well such as:

  • providing excellent customers service
  • skills in dealing with difficult customers
  • how to pacify angry customers
  • empathising and solution finding

Leah was put on performance management for her attitude and a training program. The program aimed to realign her to the company values of treating all customers with respect and resolving each call first time.

James was given the star performer award and chosen to mentor new team members. James performed/behaved according to the company philosophy and values where Leah did not.

James is ear marked for a leadership position in the future. He embraced and epitomized the company values, therefore the desired culture.


Make sure your measuring the right things that make sense to the employees as well as the business bottom line. Make them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time bound (SMART). If you found this interesting you might also like our recent inteview on ABC radio here

Measures need to make sense both to the business and the employee. They need to be future based as well as adaptable for changing circumstances. KPI's need to cover behaviours as well as numbers.

Read Gallup's article on: "Do your measures make employees mad or motivate them?"

If you like this article you might also like to read about calculating revenue per employee and emotional intelligence. Another related article is about bias in performance management. Do not act on anything with your employees until you read this article too about Do not Dismiss.

Contact us if you want to review your company Key Performance Indicators to make sure they are aligned to the right measures to improve business.

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