Do You Want Better Performance Out of Your Staff in One Week?

What a Motorbike ride can teach you about performance management.

Then measure the right things

(I learned this from a motor bike!)

Every day we get asked about how to get better performance from staff! The requests for advice come from people who are looking to re-hire staff, replace an employee that wasn’t working out or fill a vacant position with a super performing, all singing and all dancing replacement, or sometimes business owners are simply coming to us seeking help with how to get an existing team to suddenly perform better. As business owners we often get caught up with the day to day adrenaline of business life, increasing sales, cash flow, marketing problems. Sometimes the day to day problems like the website isn’t working, or the phone bills are too high can take up most of the time. I can see you nodding, and maybe you’re even scribbling a few notes about jobs to remind yourself to do as you read this. But here’s a thing I’ve noticed, and once I implemented it in our own business, it was a game changer – and I don’t mean a warm and fuzzy game changer I mean a Euros in the bank game changer (not to mention a lot more peace for all involved). So what has all this got to do with the motorbike in the picture? Let me explain. One day while nonchalantly riding through the Sudanese desert I needed fuel. I saw a man standing by the road and shouted “Benzin?” He nodded enthusiastically and brought me to a barrel full of petrol. It wasn’t a regular fore court, but it would do! However, I got a funny feeling in my stomach that he was waaaaay too happy to see me, so I questioned the measuring jug he had so that he wouldn’t short change me. He satisfied me by offering to allow me to measure in the petrol in any vessel I wanted, I was happy enough that I had knocked him off guard and deleted any idea he had of cheating me. BUT, he sheepishly asked if I wanted to taste it, yep the petrol, but at this stage I was in control, so I declined. What I didn’t realize was that the volume was never a threat, but the quality was, so when I declined to taste it, a local fool proof system I learned to my cost, then he took it from a different barrel. The result is a story for another day, but the lesson I learned was that if you measure the right things, you will go a long way. Most of the time, if we are progressive little bunnies, we are focused on a target for our business (and if you don’t have a target then yank the handbrake up on the whole show and get focused on a goal – now). I might venture to say most of our business goals are financial, and so they should be. But I’ve observed a flaw in the way a lot of businesses go about making the goal happen, and nine out of ten times, it is down to measuring the wrong things. Let’s look at an easy example, Sales. But believe me, you can apply this to almost any staff position you have in your business. Okay, so you’ve got a new shiny exciting sales person and you are expecting wonderful magic to happen because you’ve done a great job on hiring them, right?Wrong! Here’s a pattern Month 1 – great start, lots of energy, star of the show. Month 2 – bit slower but they are finding their feet and anyway, you haven’t had time to spend with them because you’ve been too busy, so you’re to blame (a bit). Month 3- hold on a second, this dude is not performing, don’t know how they went downhill so quick (and anyway, looking back I think I knew from the start). Okay this might be a bit extreme, but in the safety of your own desk, you know situations where something like this has happened before. The reasons are most of the time simple – we haven’t been measuring the right things. In our sales example, it’s a big misconception to think that you can force sales to happen. You can’t – full stop! You can only control the actions that LEAD to the sale happening. Take any sales position with a target of say, €10k per month. You know some averages, like the average sale, size, the average hit rate etc. You can write your own numbers, but then look at a fool proof process. This can be as basic as looking weekly at things like

    • How many leads were written down or qualified
    • How many calls were made to potential clients to set up meetings
    • How many meetings were attended
    • How many proposals or quotes were sent out
    • How many calls back to follow up those quotes were made
    • How many orders were closed

You get the picture. And believe me, this logic can be applied to almost any position and when you get it right and agreed with your staff, it makes life much easier for them, and of course for you. To sum it all up, you have got to look at performance management, and indeed hiring new staff with the following rules.

What Result do I want from this position?

What tasks can I measure that will get this result?

What skills are needed to do those tasks?

If you want to get more information about how to make this work for you in a practical way, give us a call, we love to chat. 

Gary O’Keeffe