Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) are a waste of time and energy if they are not measuring the right things and consequently demotivate employees?
KPI’s only produce statistical information and trends. Therefore, they need to be taken in relationship with other performance measures. Further, If employees do not have the ability to directly impact what they are being measured on, the measures are the wrong ones.
KPI’s need to be considered on the following basis:
- 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 way?
- Are there any behaviour measures (soft KPI’s) in place as well as the data (hard KPI’s)?
A real case study example:
Our team were engaged, to analyse the statics of a high-volume telecommunications contact centre team. The centre was having morale issues as well as struggling with a high number of calls.
As a result, we were invited to independently assess these issues. We needed to uncover what was the cause of the high call volume and if the staff were all performing at their best. The system they had in place at the time, was purely driven by statistical information. Performance measurement was on an individual basis around the number of calls answered. Other important measures were seemed to be missing, such number of calls escalated and first call resolution and customer satisfaction. Staff morale was pretty low and we had to understand the cause. Read about why employee engagement is so important for success.
Monthly Awards Meeting:
The call centre team had a regular monthly meetings where awards were given to star performers. We attended one to observe. After the meeting we met with a few of the staff including the ones receiving awards. Also, we met with a couple of the staff we had observed during the meeting, who seemed to be unimpressed and showing signs of discomfort.
At these individual meetings, we where informed by the team members, they felt the results were skewed and unfair. The ones that had won awards were not unhappy, of course, but one or two mentioned the same things, that the measurements used were too simplistic. Further, one of the award recipients, did not appear to us, to demonstrate a focus on providing excellent customer service. More about that further in this article.
The manager of the contact centre spoke to us about two particular individuals and provided us with statistical reports for both to support her views of their performance. She told us, one of the people was the Award winner we met with. This was the girl we had experienced not demonstrating the best attitude towards customer service. The other was a guy who the manager said; was in need of improvement. Because, his performance according to the statistics was below the level expected.
Review of the two individuals:
We reviewed the statics and Leah, (fake name) the award winner, for answering a 100 calls per day. On the other hand, James, (fake name) was the poorest performer, because he only answered half the number of calls per day.
Leah was chosen as the star performer of the month and awarded a prize. Whereas, James was to be performance managed based on these statistics.
Further analysis of these results was needed as well as observation in the contact centre:
In order to gain a detailed understanding of the situation, we needed to spend some time in the contact centre and observe. Consequently, we listened in to calls and watched the energy and interactions of the team.
In particular, we listened in to both Leah and James calls and observed their behaviour. 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 supervisor or manager and expressed anger and frustration. Listening in on her calls was very informative, her tone of voice was unfriendly and expressed irritation rather than a desire to be of assistance.
We listened to her callers complaints and agreed that she was rude and unhelpful. Further, some claimed she had disconnected the call before resolving their issue. Hence, the number of calls in the cue increased rather than reduced.
On the other hand, when we listened to James’ calls, he resolved each call first time. James’ received compliments from callers and 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 genuine eagerness to resolve the caller’s problem as efficiently as possible. Hence, taking a bit longer on each call, but resolving the issue and decreasing the need to call again. Further, reducing the number of calls in the cue.
Also, Leah was loud and disruptive towards her team mates where James was quiet, respectful and pleasant towards his colleagues.
Learning outcome, suggestions and feedback to the contact centre manager:
We explained our observations and findings during our time in the contact centre as above. Further, we explained that the statistics (KPI’s) being used only give part of the picture. Therefore, we recommended a system that also measured other things such as escalations, first call resolve and customer satisfaction.
Further, we suggested including soft KPI’s such as the behaviour and attitude towards callers and other team members. Also, we recommended capturing information on customer satisfaction levels.
The resulting changes:
The contact centre began measuring call resolution, escalation and customer satisfaction. As a result of, looking deeper into the performance metrics, they added in the desired behaviours, towards customers and colleagues as soft KPI’s.
Supervisors were tasked with random call monitoring, (double jacking) of their team to observe the soft KPI’s of customer satisfaction. During the observations, supervisors would complete a check list and give results based on weightings on preferred outcomes and customer interaction. If issues were identified, a performance discussion was held highlighting the areas for improvement and the actions to be taken.
Also, all supervisors were trained on performance management. Further, regular customer service and conflict management training were provided for the contact centre staff. Leah was put on performance management for her attitude and provided training in customer service.
Whereas, James was given a star performer award and chosen to mentor new team members for his alignment to the values of customer service and one call resolution. Also, James is ear marked for a leadership position in the future.
This highlights the importance of 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).
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.