Bob Kustka
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Factor 36:
Managing by Measuring...
Do you have a dashboard for success?

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Steve walk by my office door. I didn't have to look at my watch to know it was 4:25 and Steve was heading to the exit to catch his car pool. A former Marine sergeant, Steve was one of my best recruiters. I was managing the staffing function of a large company during a period of high-volume recruiting, and Steve was doing a great job, filling positions in a timely and efficient manner. I did sometimes wish however, that he would stay a bit later like my other recruiters, but I recognized that he had a long commute and carpooled to make it easier.
 
Later that day after everyone else had left, I stopped in to see John, one of my more junior recruiters. He was handling the factory recruiting and while they were not difficult jobs to fill, there was a large volume and he was struggling to keep up. He had only worked for me for a short time, but I could already see that he lacked the organizational skill needed for the role. He admitted to me that despite putting in long hours, he was unable to keep up. After reviewing his workload, I took back some of the job folders I had assigned him. These contained the job requisition and the applications and resumes of candidates that needed to be interviewed. Before I left for the evening, I left them on Steve's desk with a note to see me in the morning.
 
The next morning, Steve stormed angrily into my office and plunked the stack of job folders down on my desk. "Why should I have to do someone else's work because they can't carry their load?" he shouted. "This is not fair!" Steve and I had a very good working relationship, but I was caught a bit off guard by his reaction. I asked him to calm down, and then told him to leave the jobs with me and I would review the situation. He was a bit surprised by my response, but did calm down and quietly left my office.
 
Later that day I closed my door, and started to review the workload of all the recruiters in my department. We had been so busy over the last 9 months that I had been delegating work as fast as it came in. With the exception of John, I was fortunate to have a team of experienced recruiters who were highly effective and handling a large volume of work. I began looking at the number of positions each recruiter had filled. I added to that the degree of difficulty; was it an entry-level factory position, a highly technical role, or a senior manager's position that needed to be recruited. I also looked at the time it took to fill each position, from the time the requisition was sent to my department until the job was filled. My analysis of the workload yielded several surprises. Given how much John was struggling, I was surprised that his volume of work over this period was so much less than the rest of my staff. In addition, while he was filling the less difficult positions, his average time to fill was the longest. But Steve was an even bigger surprise. Despite his daily departure time, he handled the largest volume of the most difficult jobs, and his time to fill was the best of my staff. I also could not believe the sheer volume of work we were doing.
 
I asked Steve to come to my office. As he walked in, he sheepishly blurted out "I can't believe that I actually yelled at you yesterday. That was wrong and I apologize."
 
"No need to apologize, you had good reason to be upset," I told him. "You are already handling a large load and doing a great job. I am going to take back those jobs and handle it differently." He looked relieved and thanked me as he left my office.
 
Factor this in...
 
Do you have measurements to manage by? Are they clearly articulated? Are they specific for the organization, the department, each staff member, and yourself?
 
I had made the mistake in this case of managing by "feel." I thought that I had a good feel for the workload of each person. Because we were filling jobs and the customers were happy, I thought that the engine was running smoothly. But it was like driving a car without looking at the speedometer. I thought that I knew how fast I was going, but we were moving faster than I thought and there was a red light on the dashboard. It was John.
 
In order to avoid finding yourself in this position, consider the following:

  • Define the desired output for your department. In some cases, such as sales goals, this can be easy, while in others it may be more difficult. Seeking input from your peers, boss staff and customers can help you to define your desired output. What is most important is that you measure what really matters.
  • Define the metrics that will allow you to measure whether you are successfully meeting your desired outputs. Will it be customer satisfaction scores, reports produced, deadlines met, or widgets manufactured?
  • Gain agreement with the appropriate people that the metrics you define are relevant to them. This could include your boss, peers, staff, and customers.
  • Decide how often you need to measure. Because it will require effort to do so, you may decide to do it monthly or even quarterly rather than weekly. Ask yourself, "How often do I need to look at the dashboard to make sure we are heading in the right direction?"
  • Use your metrics to develop goals for your staff and yourself. Put them in writing and agree as to the frequency of review. For some this might be annual, but I recommend a greater frequency.

Managing is a serious responsibility. The best managers put systems in place to drive their organizations effectively.
 
Connecting people with plans,
 
Bob Kustka
President
Fusion Factor
 

 
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