Making It Count
“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”
For a person who utilized mathematical measures to revolutionize physics, one might find this statement by Einstein a little odd. What does he mean?
Most analytical people (me included) tend to believe that if it cannot be measured, it cannot be. Perhaps what Einstein is talking about is the “human experience.” While he knows how the universe functions, what really counts is the way we function among ourselves within the universe, which cannot be easily counted, but undoubtedly counts for much.
I was visiting with the president of a financial institution in Dallas about a situation he had on the teller line. “I have standards that I expect each teller to meet,” he told me. “One of the job standards is that they balance their cash drawer each day and that they have no more than $50 offages a month.” Failure to meet this measure would result in a poor performance review, lower merit increases, and possibly termination.
“My problem is that I have one teller who consistently produces more than the other tellers, but her offages usually exceed the standard,” he continued.
Here was his dilemma: She was his highest producer and he did not want to lose her, but she was also producing the most errors. He assumed that her production was due to her position (location) on the teller line. To test this assumption, he shifted all the tellers to see what would happen.
“She still processed the most transactions,” he told me.
Then he simply watched to see what was happening. He discovered she had the most transactions because, when customers had a choice, they chose to go to her. She seemed to know most of them, and many of those she did not help made a point to say “Hello” to her.
The CEO concluded that he would write off her offages to marketing, reasoning that he spent enough money trying to get new customers, and that the cost to cover her offages was well worth the expense.
Achieving performance standards is important, perhaps critical. However, so is maintaining positive relationships with customers. It keeps them coming back. To judge this employee’s performance solely on objective measures would have been a mistake.
You must observe an employee’s performance to see what cannot be counted, but counts. Don’t ever let a performance review form do that for you. If you do, you are likely to count those things that do count, but at the cost of intangibles that count but cannot be counted.
Clinton Koker is CEO of Koker Goodwin & Associates, a group of compensation and performance consultants. Contact him at 800-897-3308 or Clinton@KGAssociates.com.
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