Setting the wrong Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) is a waste of time. They demotivate employees; which is the opposite of the desired effect.

KPI’s that only produce statistical information and trends are a waste of time. This view on performance is too narrow. KPI’s need to be both qualitative and quantitative. Meaning, they need to measure quality as well as quantity. Even not for profits employees can have KPI’s related to achieving results. They do not have to be profit driven.

KPI’s need to be in a broader context. They need to be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable and have a Time bound to them.  Incorporated with other items, and questions such as:

  • Does the employee have proactive ability to affect the outcome?
  • Are there any economic conditions effecting the outcomes?
  • Have the employees got all the tools, skills, and training to achieve the KPI’s?
  • If an employee is reaching a target, are they doing so the right/desired way?

KPI’s must be values driven and behaviour based as well as achieving a set number related goal. More on that, further down in this article.

Here is an example of a performance review process measuring only statistics:

A high-volume, telecommunications call centre were conducting performance reviews of their team.   There had been several complaints from employees stating that the results were unfair. So, we were there to review the process.

Sample of the results comparing two individuals:

We reviewed the statics, and Leah (fake name), based on that alone, was 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. Based on these measures, the management team chose Leah as the star performer of the month. They were going to award her a prize. But, James, was to be performance managed based on these statistics.

Further analysis and the findings:

We asked for more time to investigate these variables. What we uncovered will not surprise anyone who has experienced calling a telco.

Due to not having their call resolved Leah’s callers had to ring more than once. They also, requested to speak to a team leader or manager and we wanted to know why. Her callers complained that she was very rude and unhelpful. Some claimed she had hung up the call on them before resolving their issue.

A more sophisticated call cue analysis system would have identified this trend. Having a supervisor listen in to Leah’s calls would also have identified a problem.

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 like: “oh man, some of these people are so stupid they can’t even operate a simple mobile phone.”

James’ calls, we found that 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 eagerness to resolve the caller’s problem.

Learning outcome for the contact centre manager:

The statistics only give part of the picture. It is important to look at the soft KPI’s such as behaviour. For example, the way each contact centre officer behaved towards callers. Individuals’ attitudes come across, over the phone. James attitude towards solving callers’ problems made him the real star. Whereas Leah’s attitude and behaviour  was a problem.

Imagine if the contact centre manager we had not intervened. The performance and management of the team would have been terrible. Leah would have been the star the one whose behaviour others should follow. They might have promoted her to a leadership position teaching other staff how to behave as she did.

Also, James may have been performance managed, even fired. When you think about it, James was the clear winner. He offered one call resolution and great customer service.  Supervisors ‘listening in’ on calls would have identified these issues sooner. Leah’s attitude and behaviour would have been obvious to the supervisors. They would have been able to identify the issues with her calls. This would have resulted in less angry customers. So, reducing the number of repeat calls.

If the right things were being measured sooner, the call centre team would have been much better.  They may have been able to train and redirect Leah and chosen James as her coach to improve her attitude.

The resulting changes:

The company had a mission to have one call resolution and customer satisfaction. They changed the dynamic of the call centre by including desired behaviours in the KPI’s.

They managed these changes by doing the following:

  • Supervisors conducted random call monitoring of their team. This is: ‘double jacking’, where the supervisor listens in on the call
  • Using a checklist with weightings of behaviours and numbers they improve the team
  • Soft KPI’s included in the regular training schedule where the following items:
    • providing excellent customer service
    • skills in dealing with difficult customers
    • how to pacify angry customers
    • empathising and solution finding

Leah and James:

  • To redirect Leah’s behaviour towards customers, she was performance managed
    • To  the company values including one call resolution and great customer service
  • James received the ‘star performer award’ and became a mentor for new team members.
    • He demonstrated the company values where Leah did not.


Measure 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). Work with me to set your employees KPI’s and achieve great results. They need to be future based as well as adaptable for changing circumstances. KPI’s need to cover behaviours as well as numbers. Remember, what get’s measured, get’s managed. Get to know more about King Consulting HR Consultant. Contact me to get support with your teams KPI’s.

Other items related to this article you may find of interest:

 KPI’s in the spotlight on ABC radio

 Do your measures make employees mad or motivate them

Audi Australia unfair dismissal over KPI’s


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