management

Why personality tests are useless

One of my favourite expressions is “Know thyself.” I’ve always been a fairly introspective person. I’ve been fascinated with my own psychology as well as understanding why others behaved the way they do. When I moved into management roles, this curiosity served me well. In any type of leadership role, it’s important to understand why people behave the way that they do, what motivates them, and how best to communicate with them.
So how do you know these things about people? One way is to ask, but you will find that people are terrible at accurately verbalizing these types of details about themselves. 
If you work with the person for long enough you may start to observe some patterns, but this can be a slow and unreliable approach.

Personality testing has become popular, but unfortunately, they are unreliable. Have you ever taken a Myers-Briggs test? They can be fun, but should not be used for business purposes. The test is based on largely debunked theories from Carl Jung in the 20s. For the gory details, you can read this article. For the TL;DR crowd here is an excerpt. 

“ Several analyses have shown the test is totally ineffective at predicting people's success in various jobs, and that about half of the people who take it twice get different results each time.”
“This isn't a test designed to accurately categorize people, but rather a test designed to make them feel happy after taking it. This is one of the reasons it's persisted for so many years in the corporate world after being disregarded by psychologists.”


DISC behavioural profiling is different than the standard battery of personality tests. Personality is subjective and can be highly influenced by your state of mind, environment, and other external factors. While Myers-Briggs results will vary from week to week, DISC tends to remain static for 3-5 years. DISC, unlike Myer-Briggs, IS based in science. The results are shockingly accurate and reliable. The most common feedback I get from having people do a profile is, “Spooky,” or “Bang-on.” 
Do you use any personality or behavioural profiling in your hiring or staff management process? If you’d like to profile your team and find out what makes them tick, please get in touch and we can review.

What to do when a client's IT is a total mess

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “If you think a professional is expensive, wait till you hire an amateur.” The technology field is a perfect example of this. We’ve all had those clients that were managed by a semi-technically literate person in the office. You’ve probably inherited a client from another MSP in your area and found it was barely managed at all by the previous provider.
The fact that most people don’t understand technology is a blessing and a curse. If more people were capable of supporting their own IT needs, there wouldn’t be as much work for us. The downside is that people are often misled or simply unable to tell if their IT support provider is doing the work that is expected of them.

Professional-amaetuer.png

Here is a familiar scenario.
Client prospect company is a small accounting office with 14 staff. They have the youngest guy in the office do tech support for the rest of the company and they also have an “MSP” that they call when they need. They are looking for a new support provider because the current provider sometimes takes a day or two to get around to helping them. The prospect has grown tired of waiting and needs a more mature level of support.

STEP 1: Review environment

You should assess the environment. This can be as simple as a walkthrough of the office. An experienced senior tech should have a good sense of the situation simply by looking at the physical environment. Is the network rack a rat nest of wires? Is the server a white-box with the side panel taken off cause the closet they use as a server room is overheating the equipment?
This review of the environment can give you a great sense of what the current status is and how much risk the client would bring to your company as a supported client.

STEP 2: Gauge client’s willingness to invest

If the client environment is a hot mess, many people would assume it’s because the prospect is cheap and refused to pay for the appropriate equipment and support levels. Sure, this is often the case, but you shouldn’t jump to that conclusion without confirming with the prospect. 
Meet with the client in person to discuss the results of your findings and what you would propose to remedy the situation. Lay out a plan of projects that are high impact and would remove the major points of risk. They may not agree to everything because they likely haven’t been budgeting for IT spending. However, they should express a desire to make the investment in fixing major issues. They should have a reliable server, hopefully with warranty support. They should have an image based backup in place. They should have cloud-based email services like O365 or G-suite.

STEP 3: Go or no-go

If you want to build a business that doesn’t cause you to lose sleep or feel like you’re constantly pushing a boulder up a hill, you need to be selective about the clients you take on. When you’re first getting started the temptation to take on any client is strong, but this approach can create a lot of headaches for you and your staff. If the prospect is a mess and resists spending to correct the major issues, walk away! If they spend the majority of the time talking about the price of service and projects. They are not going to be a good client.
If they see the value of the changes and appreciate you bringing them to light, get them to commit to making the major correction within the first 2-3 months of the relationship. Straight away would be better, but may not be practical based on their cash flow. 

All revenue is not created equal

All revenue is not created equal. Don’t chase clients that are simply looking for the lowest price.
Just because a prospect environment is a disaster doesn’t mean they know that. Act in their best interest, be honest about the situation. Never blame the previous provider, remain focused on the future. Help them understand that you will provide a higher level of service and that lowering their risk will avoid costly issues in the future like downtime, data-loss, and crypto events.


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How Measuring Customer Satisfaction Impacts Your Business

Customer satisfaction score (CSAT) is an important metric to measure how your customers feel about your service. If you aren’t measuring CSAT, you can never really be sure how your customers feel about you. This gap in data can be blissful ignorance to a raging fire that will lead to customer churn, or you are unaware of the raving fans you’ve built with your service. Either way it’s important to know this truth.

If you’re clients are happy you can use Simplesat’s social proof promotion tool to advertise the love you are getting from your clients.

Publish feedback right to your website

Also, it’s important to maintain that level of service and know when you’re slipping so you have the chance to make a few saves and win back the confidence of your customers.

Real-time specific feedback

If there is a raging fire of disappointment in your service you’re better off knowing that early, so you can understand the specific points of contention. If someone says, “your service sucks.” This isn’t really helpful. Especially if they tell you this as justification for why they are canceling your service! Feedback like:

  • “It took too long for someone to get back to me.”
  • “The issue wasn’t fixed and you closed the ticket.”
  • “Fred was not very friendly and didn’t answer my question.”

Each of these sting in different ways, but they are also breadcrumbs that lead you to solve issues in your service. Sometimes it’s a process issue, a communication issue, or a people issue. The specific feedback creates the opportunity for you to acknowledge the individual complaint and take corrective steps to reduce the likelihood of the issue recurring.

Dealing with a negative survey score

Ultimately an upset customer wants to be acknowledged. If someone logs a complaint in your CSAT system, like Simplesat, the system will generate a notice.

Email notification of a negative survey in Simplesat

Email notification of a negative survey in Simplesat

Someone can then call that person and apologize for the service issue, hear them out, make any available remediation on the spot and acknowledge that you take their feedback seriously and will do better in the future.

Keep the feedback flywheel spinning

If people recognize that you take their feedback seriously and you provide proof of action through future behavior it will build their trust in you as a service provider. It will also encourages them to provide additional feedback. Both positive and negative. In many cases, I have found that the most vocal detractors can be won over to be your most vocal advocates. They simply need to be acknowledged and supported.

Real life example of CSAT rollout

Here is a real example of feedback from Theresa Kent of Providence Consulting, who implemented Simplesat. She was blown away by the power of the real-time data that Simplesat provided her and her team.

“We are getting back some customer satisfaction data! This data is BEYOND valuable as it is real-time, real scenario feedback. The amount of responses we have received has surpassed our initial expectations. This is great because this tells us that our clients truly want to let Providence know how we are doing.
As you can see, this is where we are after just a few short weeks. What good looks like to Providence
is having a satisfaction rate of >90%. We are there, but barely. It only took 1 neutral and 1 negative rating to have us drop almost 10%. Based on the comments that have come with the positive ratings though, I know this will shoot right back up! Keep up the amazing work—it shows and the proof really is in the pudding.”

Theresa Kent | Customer Success Manager
Providence Consulting

 

Managed Services Metrics Service Managers Should Focus On

Your managed services helpdesk team is very busy. There are several service desk metrics that can help measure your performance. Here are some metrics that a service manager should be focusing on.

Simple Service Desk Metrics

Open vs Close

The easiest service desk metrics to focus on is the number of tickets open versus number of tickets closed. If there are 200 support tickets opened in a day you should be closing at least 200 tickets a day. This is a simple measure of your closure rate. If you aren’t closing more tickets than you’re closing, you will end up with a backlog. A backlog of tickets will lead to longer resolution time on tickets which will lead to unhappy clients and stressed out support staff.

Mature Service Desk Metrics

Service Level Agreements (SLA)

Once your service desk reaches a certain level of maturity and is able to close more tickets than are opened in a day, the team can move on to more advanced service metrics. Service level agreements (SLA) ensure that when a support ticket is opened, it is acknowledged, started, and resolved in a set period of time. An SLA will ensure that not only is the simple volume of tickets being managed, but the priority of the tickets is being managed as well. Since not all tickets carry the same urgency, it’s important to be able to juggle a little and close the high priority requests fast. I did a very detailed blog post previously about managing SLAs [here].

Performance Management (Advanced metrics)

Tickets Per Tech

Once the team metrics are in place, you can start to focus on individual contribution. How many tickets should the support techs be closing? This can vary a lot from person to person, but having an expectation of output from each team member can be invaluable. Tier 1 support staff, in general, should be able to close 10-20 tickets a day. Tier 2 slightly lower at 5-10 and Tier 3 maybe 5 a day. Whatever the number is, just simply having an agreement between the team member and the service manager is important. This allows for a measure of the output from each team member against a target. If there is a slip in actual output, the manager can work with the staff member to determine why. It can also allow the manager to increase the team performance by setting higher output targets with the team.

Client Satisfaction (CSAT)

One of the key risks to increasing a helpdesk staff members output is it can often lead to low-quality closes. In order to hit a certain number, the helpdesk staff will simply close tickets without checking with the user to ensure they are satisfied with the resolution. When you’re smaller you can review each ticket to ensure the staff is following the support policy and contacting the user to make sure they are satisfied, but this approach doesn’t scale well. Using customer satisfaction (CSAT) as a team metric as well as an individual metric is a great way to protect the clients from quick-closes. Having CSAT scoring available to measure individual technicians metric is really useful as well. If you’re using Connectwise or Autotask surveys you’re likely not getting the amount of feedback that makes this a useful metric. Instead, use SimpleSat. SimpleSat makes it crazy simple for the client to give you quick feedback on every ticket that gets worked on. Plus the data is collected in a beautiful dashboard for easy review or team and individual staff members.

Simplesat Connectwise Survey Dashboard

Simplesat Connectwise Survey Dashboard

So if you’re just getting started with MSP helpdesk metrics or you’re already a mature operator, make sure you are using CSAT to measure and manage your customers feedback about the quality of the service your team is delivering. Simplesat has a free 30-day trial to get you started and if you tell them that you heard about Simplesat from Evolved, they will give you 15% the posted website price.

 

Header image thanks to Infocash on Flickr.

5 Key Ingredients To A Successful Team

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Google is a massive company and has had tremendous success. So what's the secret to growing a company like Google? The people operations team (HR) set off on a two-year quest to research what made successful teams. They guessed it would be something to do with a supportive team composition with complimentary skillsets and experience. What they found instead was something much simpler than they expected.

Google loves data and in order to research what makes a successful team, they spent two years interviewing 200+ Google staff members from all sorts of different teams. Development, sales, finance, marketing, everyone they could get their hands on. They cataloged the attributes of the teams and compared them against various performance metrics. These were the top 5 attributes to the teams that had the highest performance and most engaged team members.

  1. Psychological safety: Confidence to speak and act without feeling insecure or being embarrassed.
  2. Dependability: Individuals can count on each other to deliver high-quality work on time.
  3. Structure & clarity: Team has clear goals and plans to execute.
  4. Meaning of work: Feeling their work has personal meaning to them.
  5. Impact of work: Feeling their work makes a contribution.
5 keys to team performance according to Google Re:Work

5 keys to team performance according to Google Re:Work


Psychological safety

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One of my all-time favorite business books, is Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek. One of the central themes of the book is how teams are an extension of tribal culture and there is a deep-rooted need for safety in groups. This is demonstrated really well by close bonds formed between military units and first responders. Most of us are lucky, in that if our team members fail us we won't die. Military and first responders lives often depend on the person standing next to them. In the book, Sinek speaks to how a team with a low level of trust will often turn on each as they sense a threat from each other. A strong team will bond together and recognize the external threat. Everyone can recognize the truth in this. We've all been a part of teams that were bogged down in infighting and people sniping at each other. The amount of distraction and negativity this creates is a huge boat anchor on productivity and morale. Naturally, teams that don't trust each other perform poorly compared to teams with high trust.

Dependability

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Dependability feels like an extension of trust to me. If team members feel that their peers will deliver their work on time, it has a tangible impact on trust. It also serves as peer motivation for the rest of the team to also deliver high-quality work on time. Of course, the inverse is true as well. When a team member doesn't deliver their work, the rest of the team gets frustrated and sometimes feels less inclined to do their work as well. This is why flagging and managing underperforming team members is critical. You can't let them spoil the work product of the rest of the team. Provided the team sees that a manager or even other peers are applying pressure to that person to correct their accountability, that can be enough to keep the team performance from suffering overall.

Structure & Clarity

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This is one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of business planning. In most cases there is no strategic plan for the company. If something does exist it's often in the owners head. The effectiveness of leadership has a strong correlation to being able to communicate the goals of the organization. It's not enough to say, "We want to make lots of money and provide great service." I encourage businesses to write down strategic plans in a simple format that makes it easy to communicate. This is often done in the form of a one-page-plan. There are several ways to do this Gazelles, Traction, A3 (lean method). You don't need a 13 page report on your strategy. It will only make it more difficult to communicate. A simple one pager that outlines the goals of the organization is drastically easier to explain to someone else.

Once you have the clarity of the plan with target goals and key performance indicators (KPIs). It becomes easier to measure what is needed from staff. The clarity of the core responsibilities of the role make it much easier for management and staff to agree on what productive work look like. It shifts the conversation from, "You're not doing well at your job." Which is subjective and feels like a personal attack to, "You closed 4 tickets this week. Everyone else on your team hit 15. So what happened?" Don't fear measuring your staff performance. Provided your KPIs are fair, people will love the visibility. People that resist metrics are usually under performers. 

Meaning/Impact

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I will roll these two together since I feel they are strongly related and probably the toughest ones to get in place. Unless you work for an organization that is saving whales or curing cancer. It can be tough to conceptualize the impact you have in your job. This is why is critical for leadership to help frame the impact of people's work. In a knowledge based job like technology it's tough for people to point to a job well done. Hopefully you have some metrics to measure your success, but it's not like you can point to a house or a bridge and say, "I built that."

Some simple things you can do are ensuring staff have a sense of direction in their career. As a part of their development they need to be thinking about their future. Do they want to grow in to a management position? Do they want to be the cloud or security expert in the group? Do they want to complete their CCNA or MCSE? Whatever their goals, the goals need to be kept alive by the team member and actively supported by management.

Celebrating success with the team is also important for a group sense of accomplishment. When you win a new client do you ring a gong in the office, or have everyone participate in a group cheer? When you complete a large project or new client on-boarding, do you order in a nice lunch (not just pizza) or a cake to mark the occasion? Keep your team success visible and celebrate at every opportunity. It will be really helpful to the teams morale and sense of accomplishment.


If you'd like to learn a bit more abut creating psychological safety you can watch this TEDx talk from Amy Edmondson below.

The Two Pizza Rule

Why the two pizza team makes your company more productive

Pizza to feed your team

Pizza to feed your team

The two pizza team approach was popularized by Jeff Bezos, but the approach is not new. You’ve probably heard the story about Steve Jobs being ruthless about the number of attendees to a meeting. Drake Baer noted a couple of these stories in his article for BI. Jobs declined to meet with President Obama and other technology moguls because the group was too big. Jobs also routinely dismissed people from meetings if he felt they were not core to the meeting. Keeping meetings and teams to a manageable size can have dramatic impacts on the efficiency and cost-effectiveness of your business.

Why?

There are numerous reasons why limiting a team size is important, here are a few.

  • Cost effective meetings
  • Manageable teams
  • Accountability
  • Communication

Cost Effective Meetings

Meetings are universally derided in modern business. There are books, comics, and YouTube videos pointing out the amount of time wasted in meetings. Many meetings could simply be replaced with a weekly email, or even better, with a collaboration tool like Asana or Slack. Next time you are sitting in a meeting think about the cost of that meeting based on how many people are in the room. 12 people, making an average of $70,000/yr, meeting for 1hr once a week? That costs the company $23,764 per year. Let’s scale that back to 4 people. Now that meeting costs $7,904 per year and we saved $15,000 a year. It’s not just the cost of the pizzas that matter. It’s a measure of how many people are required to commit to a certain project or initiative.

Manageable teams

A manager should never have more than 10–12 direct reports. Ideally, teams should be 6–8 people. How many pizzas would you order for 6–8 people? Correct, two pizzas. Well managed teams have something universal in common. A strong relationship between the manager and the peers. Historically management relied on role power to direct teams. This approach typically manifests in directing the team through fear. Fear of being fired, fear of being reprimanded, or fear of humiliation. Sure you can produce short-term results, but anyone who has ever worked for a “mean boss” can tell you, the returns are diminishing. A manager that has a relationship with their direct reports will be able to produce greater results for the long term by appealing to a sense of loyalty and self-worth. This relationship-based approach to management is built on developing a connection with the staff in the first place. If a manager has 10–20 reports, people will be left out. It’s simply not possible for a person to nurture a working relationship with so many people. In addition, the team will naturally form sub-groups within the team and thus damage the potential relationships of the peers in the team. Having smaller more focused teams will limit meeting size and ensure productive relationships within that team.

Accountability

There is a psychological phenomenon called diffusion of responsibility. A great example of this when a group witnesses an emergency the more people that witness it, the less likely that anyone is to take action. Groups of people will assume that someone else will take responsibility. This is true in business as well. When someone sends a generic email to a group of people asking them to do a task, very few will act on it. Also, if a team observes a problem at work, the larger that group, the less likely they are to raise that issue with peers or management. People tend to assume that everyone is aware and therefore someone else will take action. Inaction is often assumed to be an indication that no one cares about the issue. A small two pizza team will have a higher degree of accountability. Peers will be more likely to keep each other in check and the level of personal accountability to the team and its deliverables will be higher as well. Contrary to popular opinion people are not lazy and want to achieve great results. They just often lack the conditions to facilitate it. A smaller team will allow a pride of ownership that is more likely to breed better results. A smaller team also simplifies responsibility and delegation of duties to individuals instead of groups of individuals.

Communication

Did you get the memo?

Communication is a pillar of any successful business or group. Even small businesses tend to struggle with effectively and efficiently communicating with staff. Modern businesses will use technology to try to communicate to everyone, but as with many issues in business, technology does not solve human issues. “Did you get the memo?” This is an outdated phrase from years past, but it’s no different than the more modern form of “Did you read the email?” or “Did you see the bulletin?” In most cases, a more human touch is required when communicating to teams. A typical method in organizations is the waterfall approach. Executives communicate to leadership and leadership carries that communication to staff. A great manager will not simply repeat the messaging verbatim but will re-interpret the message for their team specifically. How does this event or direction impact our work? How does this initiative change our priorities? Helping teams to digest corporate communication is much simpler when there is a tighter focus and a smaller team. Another benefit to smaller two pizza teams is it helps to contain information. Everyone has been on one of those email chains with 20 CCs that just never ends. Using collaboration tools like Slack can contain the team communication to the relevant parties, while still allowing that information to be shared with others if required.

How?

Small companies that are growing past 10 people are the first to struggle with the issues that result from a growing team. Companies that are scaling past 30 or 50 people suffer again from these growing pains. Scaling a team is difficult and requires a focused effort on training leadership and management skills into your promising staff. Anyone that manages a team should identify their right-hand in that team. Whether you are a small business owner with 10 staff or a front-line manager with 4–6 staff, find the person on your team that you would leave in charge if you’re on vacation. Work with intention to develop that persons leadership skills. If appropriate designate them as the team leader. A team lead is different from a manager, they are a part of the team and are less likely to be treated as management. They can help facilitate communication and problem escalation for you. When the team grows you have a built in leader that you’ve been coaching. If they are interested in taking on more leadership responsibilities they can take on a team of their own. Don’t let your teams grow beyond management. Keep them to a two pizza limit and everyone will benefit.

A Modern Approach to Managing Teams

Management is a fairly young profession. Management was born out the industrial revolution when suddenly workforces swelled from 5-10 people, to 50 or 500 people. This change brought about a massive shift in our society, how products were produced, how people lived, and also how business owners managed their staff. Times have changed since the days of assembly lines and physical labour being a dominant mode of work. As this Wall Street Journal article highlights, work is evolving and the knowledge economy is starting to dominate the bulk of our workforce. Sadly management practices have been much slower in their evolution. There is a crisis in management today, to recognize this all you have to do is look at the number of books, articles, and apps that are produced to help struggling managers. So much of this information is theoretical and lacks the implementation framework to make the information useable. In a previous post on medium, I've written on how the two pizza rule can define your team size. In this post I would like to provide a more modern and practical approach to managing people and teams.

Relationships are built on trust

Many managers do no fully appreciate the power they wield over their staff. Without your approval and support, your directs risk loosing the safety of a stable income, a fulfilling career, in some cases healthcare, and positive self-worth. Anyone who has been fired from a job can attest to how emotionally overwhelming the experience is. Even people that hated their job can get incredibly emotional about being terminated.

Your primary motivation as a manager should be to build a relationship with your direct reports. This does not mean you need to be buddies, in fact, you should not be friends with your directs. This does not mean you cannot be friendly with them.

Make an effort to engage people as individuals. Talk about what they like, what they do outside of work, what they find interesting or inspiring. The trick is you can't do this as a 1 minute conversation before requesting a deliverable from them. This small talk is transparent to most people and doesn't constitute relationship building. Instead, try taking them for lunch once in a while, ask a lot of questions and listen, listen, listen. Better yet, organize weekly one-on-ones with your directs. As an added bonus if you can retain one or two things from that conversation to ask them about later, it will demonstrate to the person that you were listening and that you cared enough to remember.

Communication is what the listener does
— Mark Horstman

Spending quality time with your direct reports is one of the most powerful things you can do as a leader. Familiarity and development of a relationship will lay the groundwork for the directs to trust you. In most cases, but not all, the trust will also build respect.

beatings-willcontinue-till-morale-improves

Managers should view their work as in-service to the team. Teams of directs serve the needs of the organization and the managers serve the needs of the team. This is a powerful change in role dynamics. Too many immature managers view their role as telling the team what to do. In many cases this leads to a relationship based on role power. People only comply with the managers demands because they don't want to be punished. This has the deceiving effect of short-term results, but does massive long-term damage to team performance. Managers that can win the teams trust and be viewed as a champion for them will be able to rely on the relationship to impact performance and affect behavior.

Look for small wins you can make for individuals or the team as a whole. Maybe it's a product they would like, a change to the schedule, training they have asked for, or an improvement to the work area they have been begging for. Whatever it is see what you can champion on their behalf. This will help to demonstrate that you are looking out for them and that care enough to champion a cause on their behalf. This has a secondary benefit of the team being more likely to raise concerns with you in the future, once they feel confident that their concerns will be heard and addressed.

Define Goals

Achievement is a powerful motivator. One of the difficulties in the knowledge economy is that quite often it's difficult to point to the results of your work. In IT for example there is an endless stream of problems. It can create thankless days of busy work, but lacks the dopamine injection of positive feedback when you can point to a finished work product. If you build a house or create a work of art, you can point to it and say, “I made that.” If you work in a knowledge based profession it's much tougher to point to your completed work product. Defining goals can help staff and businesses measure achievement. Often people get caught up in grandiose goals that are not necessarily based on the reality on the ground. Just as lack of goals can negatively impact the engagement of staff, failing to achieve goals can also be damaging.

start-simple

When starting with goals start with something simple in order to gain traction. A great first pick is often a behavioral change that you need to see from an individual. Do you need a sales person to update their funnel once a week? Do you need a tech to submit their timesheet weekly? What are those behaviors that you know they can do, but have neglected? Simple achievable goals will allow you to ratchet up expectations and set higher goals.

Metrics

Metrics are critical to efficient management. When you have the ability to see the important numbers of your business on a dashboard, you can understand if any problems exist in a matter of seconds.

In order to achieve your goals, you have to understand what behaviors will produce the outcome you expect. Goals are often a lag indicator, so you need to determine your lead indicators. For example if you set a goal that you are going to close $24,000 in new business in six months, you need to know what your weekly metrics are. A couple of examples would be number of opportunities in the sales funnel, number of client meetings booked this week, average close ratio, and average deal size.

Another example would be achieving greater than 90% SLA on all support tickets through the week. Metrics to consider would be average number of tickets opened and closed per day, number of tickets per team member, and average time spent per ticket.

Metrics or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are your ruler for success when making changes. Know your numbers, keep an eye on them daily, weekly, monthly and yearly in order to measure the success of your activities towards achieving your goals.

I have worked with several organizations to develop KPIs and implement dashboards that hang in their office displaying those metrics in real time. Managers and operators love this! They get a quick overview of the health of their departments or business at a glance. It has another benefit in keeping staff focused on their priorities. When the dashboard metrics go out of the expected range they turn red. This acts as a visual trigger for the person responsible for that number to take action, without being prompted by someone else. This shortcuts the time to action on those numbers and allows a kind of self directing feedback loop.

Measure success and provide feedback

Metrics also act as a fantastic management tool. Using metrics when providing feedback can move the conversation from a purely subjective view to a much more objective one. Without a metric to measure a staff members performance you may be left saying, “I need you to do better.” This is a terrible example of feedback, but this type of interaction is surprisingly common. It’s no wonder people get frustrated and immediately try to defend themselves. The defensive response demonstrates an emotional override and completely misses the point of the feedback. The direct likely feels angry and demotivated thinking to themselves, “I work really hard, how am I supposed to do more? My boss just doesn’t get it.” Now let’s try with using specific measurements. “We agreed that you would make 6-8 proactive calls a day. Right now you are averaging 3. What can you do to improve that number?” In this case the direct knows specifically what you are asking for. Even if they are defensive there is likely more room to talk about why they are not able to hit the metric. Perhaps there is some tweaking that needs to be made to their workload or scheduling. Whatever the issue is the direct will appreciate having a constructive conversation about what they can modify, instead of simply being told to do better.

Celebrate!

When you accomplish something slow down and take the time to celebrate your achievement. All too often people squander the opportunity to celebrate wins. You don’t have to make a million dollar sale to justify some high fives, a cake or a round of drinks. Positive feedback is powerful action in management. It is your best method to re-enforce a behavior you would like to see repeated, and like I mentioned before, management is about creating future behaviors. So don’t be shy about celebrating simple wins, a simple thank you goes a long way. A gift can be appropriate in some cases, gathering the team for a few words and cheer, and if the celebration is big enough to warrant it, have a party! Providing a team a vehicle to rally around an achievement can be a powerful cultural glue.

As our economy and work-world continues to evolve in to our future, we will continually be challenged by the rapid change of technology and culture. Companies that make an effort to evolve their management practices will see higher levels of engagement and innovation from their staff. I hope this framework gives you some reflection on your management practices and offers a few ideas on how you could evolve your management framework. Feel free to reach out to me directly for assistance if you feel your company could benefit from an evolved management style.

Control employee turnover to save money

Turnover happens. It also costs a business a lot of money. There is no way to eliminate it, but minimizing its impact is critical.

Cost insights

Turnover is leeching your business of money. The average cost to replace an employee is 20% of their salary. The costs are easy to add up but often overlooked. You need to cover the work left from that staff member, recruit candidates, interview candidates and train the new hire. If the exits are not managed properly there can be significant damage to workforce morale. Perhaps the person leaving was well liked and influential with the other staff. Often the extra work leaves the staff stretched while a new hire is sourced and brought up to speed.
Typically organizations should see an annual turnover rate of 5-10%. So if an organization employed 80 people with an average salary of 70K, and their turnover rate was 20%, that would equal $224,000 per year. Lowering that turnover rate to the high end of the industry average 10%, would save the organization $112,000 a year.

Stop the bleeding

There is an expression that people do not quit companies, they quit managers. So the first line of defense in retaining your workforce is to ensure your managers are leading the team effectively. To the staff, management IS the company. Without a healthy relationship between the workforce and management, the company will suffer lost productivity, low morale, and ultimately high turnover.

Understand the Staff

Not every person in the organization can be motivated by the same things. Therefore, it is critical to understand each staff member. Really understand them, what makes them tick, what gets them excited, both professionally as well as personally. Tailoring management style as well as messaging to the individual can have a dramatic effect on how that message is received.

Set a clear vision

Define the vision and communicate the vision at every opportunity. If your staff is unsure what the goals are they are unlikely to understand how their contribution matters. A clear vision is a fundamental building block to employee engagement. 

Measure, Monitor, and Review

Don't wait until next year to determine if the approach you are taking is succeeding. Soliciting feedback from management and staff on a regular basis is important to gauge your progress. Setting target goals give you something to measure against and adjust course where necessary. When you do loose staff conduct an exit interview, perhaps there are some valuable insights from the people that have chosen to leave.