Back when I was leading teams at technology companies, one of the things that we did was monitor individual and team metrics. We would assign metric quotas based on various factors such as tenure, type of business they were pursuing, the role that they were in, time of year, historical data, etc.
One of the metrics we looked closely at was the number of calls they would make and how much time they would spend on the phone. Based on tracking, we knew the more calls made and the more time salespeople were on the phone correlated to increased revenue and profitability. I would monitor their metrics and coach them to achieve their call metrics, which in turn would lead to the achievement of their revenue and profitability goals.
At some point, it came to my attention that certain employees were gaming the system. When I was tapping into calls and recording them, I discovered people doing things like calling recorded information loops. It didn’t take long to figure out the reason: to boost up their call time. A particular favorite was Moviefone, which some of you may remember was a service that provided the show times of movies playing at local theaters. Members of my team were actually calling Moviefone several times a day and just letting it play on a loop for many minutes…and their call time would look amazing!
Obviously, being on the phone with Moviefone instead of clients wasn't going to help them increase their sales. Instead, it was a great example of good intentions gone bad. When you start putting the pressure on, sometimes people will do silly things to look like they are doing the work vs. actually doing it! It’s all in the name of hitting a goal but the action is in complete detriment to them actually hitting the goal that mattered the most – growing the revenue and their customer base. If they had spent the same amount of time and effort into actually doing the work instead of getting out of it—imagine what their results could have been!
Show Them the Forest
Once this activity came to my attention, I intervened and told my team, “I'd rather have you just not make your call time versus a waste of time action like this. It’s not helping you sell any more and the intention behind this is to help you grow your revenue. That’s the real reason why this objective was set in the first place."
This is a case of “seeing the forest for the trees.” As leaders, it is our responsibility to help our teams understand why we are asking them to do something. It’s not enough to give them some numbers to hit and then hold them accountable. Do they genuinely know why those numbers are in place and the context of it in the big picture?
As leaders, it is our responsibility to consistently communicate the purpose. The rule of seven says you have to communicate a message seven times before people remember it. Stay on message and communicate often to ensure your message is heard, and don’t forget to include the ‘why.’
When you regularly connect with your team and clients to establish this context, and arrive at the destination, they will understand the significance of why the journey needed to be made in the first place and gain deeper satisfaction from the achievement of it.
If you’re a leader who feels a disconnect is driving a wedge in between you and your team, don’t wait and hope that it will go away. It needs to be addressed head on and now you have the tools to do it!