What gets measured gets done – managing employee engagement


The right metrics can engage employees


Peter Drucker was absolutely right when he said, “what gets measured gets done”.  This means that the metrics you choose to measure your employee’s performance will shape their behavior and values.  Over the last 15 years in sales and marketing I’ve made a several discoveries about how metrics can steer brands performance.


Most likely, your frontline employees deliver your brand promise to customers.  The brand experience that your employees create will either reinforce or refute your promise.  So, if you want to improve your customer’s experience, and your revenue, you can change the metrics to align your employee’s behaviors with the preferred customer experience.


Delivering WOW Experiences


Take Zappos as a quick example. In less than 10 years, Zappos has grown its annual online retail revenues to over $1 billion. CEO, Tony Hsieh has said that their company doesn’t actually focus on selling the shoes that make up their revenues.  Instead, Tony insists that Zappos’ single-minded focus is to deliver “WOW” through customer experiences.  Since it’s the Zappos employees that deliver this WOW experience, the metrics used to manage them need to align.


ZapposInsights, the Zappos learning centre, has posted samples of the metrics they use to shape and manage the desired behaviour of their employees. Here are a few examples.


  • There are no incentives, bonuses or spiffs for their customer service team to sell or up-sell their customers.
  • The company wide focus is on improving the Average Speed of Answer (ASA).  On average, 80% of their customer calls get answered in less than 20 seconds.
  • Each day, employees have 15 minutes diarized on their calendar to write thank you cards to customers.  The management tactic of blocking off time serves to validate the Personal Emotional Connection (PEC) metric.


Indeed, no bonuses for upselling, ASA or PEC metrics sounds strange.  However, these are totally useful and practical metrics to keep employees engaged and focused on delivering the WOW experiences that Zappos promises to their customers. Since employee behavior gets shaped by metrics, the collective behaviour of all employees creates a culture within an organization.  The goal of delivering WOW experiences is different and may sound strange on its own.  Is it any wonder that the metrics needed to create this culture sound foreign well?


Fishbowl Prospecting


Jim Rome is an internationally syndicated sport based talk show host with his own radio and TV platforms.  Before he got into radio, Jim was a vacuum salesman.  He’s admitted publicly that he was not cut out for sales and respects the people who can do it for a living.


On his radio show, Jim will occasionally reminisce about the good ol’ days in sales and tell a story about his humorous fishbowl prospecting techniques that illustrates the story of how metrics shape manager and employee behaviour.


Having met with a lot of rejection on the vacuum trail, Jim decided to recover over an extended lunch.  Jim knew that when he went back to the office, he’d need to report to his manager about his activity.  Jim’s manager would ask him all the regular type of questions.  Did you sell any vacuums? How many times did you present a vacuum for sale?  How many leads do you have? It was this last question that Jim knew his future success would be judged by.


The restaurant that Jim was at had a fishbowl at the front counter.  You’ve likely seen it before at lunch stops near you. It’s the fishbowl that restaurants often use as a raffle for a free lunch.  The sign beside it says something like DROP YOUR CARD TO WIN!  When Jim passed that bowl, he didn’t see a chance to win a free lunch.  He saw what great sales people see – opportunity!


As Jim was retreating from the restaurant, he boldly reached into the fishbowl at the front counter, grabbed a fistful of cards, put them in his pocket, and left.  When Jim got back to the office and had to report to his manager about the number of leads that he sourced, out came the business cards from the fishbowl. Et Voila!  Jim was able to report lots of leads and that made his manager very happy.


Meaningful Metrics


Not all metrics are meaningful. The number of leads a salesperson has is often the manager’s only yardstick of measuring performance.  However, it’s been my experience that the quantity of leads does not predict the quality of performance. While most salespeople don’t make up actual sales many, myself included, have padded lead reports to get on with the work, and get the manager off our back.


Bad metrics can demotivate employees and detract from the intended corporate culture. This is especially true in two cases. First, when metrics don’t accurately predict future success but rather show the appearance of effort.  Second, when the metrics don’t connect an employee’s behaviour to the company’s purpose. Zappos has proven that meaningful metrics can engage employees, build a vibrant corporate culture and deliver profit.


Can You Help?


Imagine you were the owner of this vacuum company.  Your promise to customers is that above all, your vacuum works brilliantly.  How might you change the metrics that that manage Jim’s behaviour in the field so that he reinforces your brand promise? You can invent any measure of success that you like.  What would those metrics look like?


Please add your comments below – I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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