Tape measure bar chart

What Gets Measured Gets…..

First step, second step… in the morning these days, I tend to stumble around. Walked from my bathroom to my bedroom to set down my glasses before I went to shower. I caught a glimpse of my smartphone face up on my dresser and saw.

“Congratulations you have achieved your fitness goal for the day!”

Hmm. Had to scratch my head a bit. Started counting the steps… and then thought…

‘Now I remember, I got up from bed, walked to the bathroom, turned around to go back to my dresser – and somehow I hit my 10,000 steps a day goal on my Samsung Health app.’

I felt really quite accomplish for so early in the morning. Usually I get a terse message.

‘GET ACTIVE – still X steps away from your fitness goal.’

Most times I feel like saying

‘Oh yah… you little piece of plastic silicon digital spewing…’

But I need to stop my rant before I slam my phone down – I still have eight-years before it’s totally paid off.

The only thing I could think of was that I was walking around all night in some sleep induced fog with the phone in my pajama pocket. Surely my wife would have heard me… or she would have stopped me after the 20th revolution around the bed.

But I had to ask myself this question – why I felt a bit of little tweak of accomplishment? Felt like I just received a cheer – just like a little child who has accomplished something for the first time

“Yah! Everybody cheer for Murray. Murray just colored his first picture. That’s a lovely orange squirrel, Murray!”

Maybe I was having a nightmare. Just before bed I had watched a clip on my CNN news app where Senator Elizabeth Warren cross-crucified the President of Wells Fargo during a senate subcommittee hearing into financial malfeasance at the bank. Apparently over 5,000 employees had been fired for setting up fake accounts in their clients’ names – fraudulently moving money over from valid accounts – all so they could meet their quarterly sales quotas.

She asked him if setting a corporate goal of eight accounts for each customer – when the industry average was three – might have created an institutional problem. She also asked him if any executive had been fired. Or if he gave back any of the $200 million he made in personal income during this time. She then went on to tell him in plain-speak that he showed “gutless leadership”.

It was a total corporate takedown. If I had been an advisor to him at Wells Fargo I would have advised him better.

‘Dude, don’t even show up. Send your dog to the hearing. Give back $100 million, resign, and go play golf before you get eviscerated on National TV. You are but the Pillsbury Doughboy in a room of hungry football players. You are the three-legged wildebeast.”

We have all worked for those folks. I did once. I was in a room where our President outlined our yearly plan. He had reduced the marketing spend for lead generation by 75% over the previous two years. He then laid out a sales quota increase of 250% for  the team. It was laughable and pretty silly. Half the sales team left. I couldn’t wait to get out as it was so bizarre.

Measurement is a complex beast. It is that much more so in business – where money is on the line. Every business wants to be merit-based

‘We Pay for Performance in our Firm’.

Problem is – the guys who extol that value usually don’t really get measured the same way – because up in the stratosphere it can get quite political and complex. It’s not just numbers. There are broader considerations and complexities that can’t be reduced to a simple number.

But not on the frontline guys – those 5,000 fired people at Wells Fargo. Those people who had tapped out their moms & dads, their brothers & sisters, second, third and fourth cousins to open accounts – they were being asked to move performance 267% beyond the industry norm… or get fired. Either way they would be getting fired. Fired for missing quota or fired for fraud.

‘Firing Squad or Hanging?’ Which would you prefer?’

Too much measurement and we kill spirit. Not enough measurement – and everyone feels it’s okay to leave and play ‘Pokemon Go’ for the afternoon – nothing gets done.

Measurement is the precursor to Accountability. And they also go hand in hand. It reminds me when my staff would admonish me for not making someone accountable. I found that everyone wants ‘accountability’… but not when it comes to them. Sort of like the line from Woody Allen

‘I am not afraid of death, but I would rather not be in the room when it happens.’

I always responded

“Thanks for your interest in accountability. I look forward to your input. Let’s start with you and your work. What are you accountable for? How do you HOLD YOURSELF TO ACCOUNT?”

You see – you can derive satisfaction and fool yourself into thinking that somehow you have walked 10,000 steps to the bathroom and back in the morning. But in your heart you really know whether you earned it or not.

At our trucking software company – we continue to refine and monitor our people and performance metrics as we mature as a business. We keep an eye on the ‘North Pole of Customer Metrics’ and the ‘South Pole of the Investor Metrics’.  And of course our ‘Equatorial Employee Metrics’ in between.

But I will approach it from this standpoint. Within each and every one of us is a desire to find meaning and success in our work. But we simply won’t know this unless we apply some form of measurement. We want to hold ourselves to account as well, because we strive for purpose and for meaning. We can fool ourselves but that is just delaying the core problem that you aren’t in the right place, moving in the right direction in your work, and perhaps in your life. But we all need a scorecard in some way, shape, or form.

It is from this essential truth that you build measurement and accountability with your staff. We do this in our Trucking Software business in many places. In many instances I will ask our employees how they think they should be measured, or ASK THEM to go find a system or resource for tracking outputs and results. If you have had a hand in creating the measurement, and it has been agreed upon, then you are more likely to accept the accountability that comes with it.

As for me. Now that I have completed my second blog of the day,  I am going to walk next door to get some pizza and a salad to getting in my 30,000 steps along the way.