Enough already – Why are we measuring too much?

Just because you can measure anything doesn’t mean you should measure everything.

A few months back in a conversation with an HR Director from an international organisation she explained the challenges the company was having with the performance of their sales team, nothing new here.

Some fairly straightforward questions about their performance that wasn’t good enough, how they approached their job, how they were remunerated, what level of training they provided etc….etc…etc…. were met with disrespect and disdain; again, nothing new here, been there, done that.

The discussion (or lecture…) continued and I asked what the sales people were measured on and she got a little more animated… “we measure everything…. how many phone calls they make, to whom, for how long, who are they calling, where are these people in the pipeline, what are their conversion rates,” the list went on & on.

Further on I asked what the organisation’s staff retention was “…. Oh we don’t measure that but I have been here 8 years, such & such has been here a year and him 2 years and her 2 as well…….”, as HR Director I’d have thought this would be a critical measure.

My problem and my experience are twofold:


A paper by the Miller Heiman Group titled “Why you’re measuring too much?” talks about the need to simplify or we risk overwhelming sales teams, advising picking 3 – 5 measures around “leading” NOT “lagging” indicators. Statistics from a recent survey were that 45% of sales performance metrics were aligned with overall company objectives, in world class organisations the number was 93%.

In one of my previous lives my sales team had 27 different KPIs, we were measuring / administrating ourselves to a standstill. It is a lot like try to herd cats or as Confucius says “if you give someone two rabbits to chase they will catch neither…”.

The other “interesting” aspect of this is that whilst HR (in this case) were happy to put measures on other parts of the business they were not necessarily concerned about a fundamental metric associated with their area of responsibility / accountability.

The company I mentioned above were looking for their third National Sales Manager in 4 years, I smell a problem.

Big Picture

A study by Deloitte Access recently reported Australian companies are drowning in their own red tape, wasting valuable hours of employee time and costing the economy billions of dollars:

  • government cost about $27bn pa to administer & $67bn pa to comply with.
  • businesses themselves costs $155 bn pa – $21bn to develop & administer and $134 billion a year to comply with.

Click here to read the article.

In this same report, Deloitte Director Chris Richardson said. “Businesses are wearing self-inflicted wounds.” Australia’s “non-productive” workforce is scarcely any smaller than it was two decades ago wearing self-inflicted wounds including employee turnover with bureaucracy and micromanagement on the back of too many measures.

It is critical for businesses to decide on what is important and put measures in place to support their teams to achieve their objectives. This will ensure that they not only survive but also succeed because they know what they need to do and have the tools to get themselves there.

Perhaps it is better to follow the advice from Christina Guidotti (Partner of Thought Leaders Global) “…..to be more productive, focus only on the things that matter.”

Charlie Pidcock