CallMe! Quick Hit: Are Scorecards & Metrics Killing Employee Engagement?

HBR

From time to time, we see a thought-provoking article or blog that we feel would be beneficial to discuss with our readers.  That is why we created CallMe! Quick Hits.  Sometimes we agree completely with the author.  Sometimes we don’t.  This time, it’s somewhere in the middle.

In a recent Harvard Business Review blog, Adrian Ott argues that “management…sets rigid rules and metrics that disable employee judgment” leading to employee disengagement and poor customer service.  The answer is investing in front-line employees and trusting them to make the right answer.

Our View: We think that Ms. Ott is on to something here, but the article misses the mark a bit.  The problem is not metrics as a whole, so let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater.  The problem is that far too many metrics – and the scorecards that contain them – measure activity rather than outcome.  As a general rule, employees’ behavior often emulates the metrics they are measured (and paid) against.  Unyielding rules and scorecards based exclusively on process metrics – e.g. call time, number of calls handled, etc. – incent the wrong types of behaviors if you really care about building a customer-centered business.

But that’s not to say that metrics and scorecards are wrong.  As much as we believe in our employees, trusting them blindly to make the right decision is probably not the right move.  The right metrics allow you to verify performance and uncover opportunities for improvement.  Just shift the emphasis from process metrics to outcome metrics…measures that evaluate how well the employee is handling customer needs.  Some examples of effective outcome metrics include:  Net Promoter Score, Customer Engagement, Employee Engagement, High-Performer Turnover.  And, of course, there is still room and need for operational metrics like Revenue per Call and Call Time.  But the important point is to create scorecards that balance the emphasis between outcome and process measures to create the best result.

That’s our take.  What do you think??