Monday, September 22, 2014

Are Goals and Metrics Killing Your Company?

Departmental goals, metrics, KPI or whatever you call them are a business imperative. Managers have to monitor how well the department is doing, what initiatives are working and which are not working. Goals and metrics are also important for employees. Employees need something to work toward and something to celebrate when goals are achieved. So, considering the obvious importance of goals and metrics, why would the title of this post intimate that goals may be killing your company?  Because it is very likely that they are.

In most companies, each team has objectives and associated goals. For example, sales have sales quotas, marketing has lead goals, and customer service/support has to close a certain number of help tickets. On the surface, goals like this make complete sense but if you dive in deeper the problems become obvious. Often, employees will do whatever it takes to achieve their goals even if their efforts hurt another department or hurt the company’s profitability.

Think about it this way. If marketing’s goal is to bring in leads and hit their goals, why would they care about lead quality or sales resulting from those leads? If a salesperson’s goal is to sell, do you think they care about customer retention or do they sometimes stretch the truth about product capabilities just to close the deal? The customer service/support team tasked with closing a certain number of help tickets is quick to Band-Aid issues rather than fixing the underlying problem.

These are not the only way goals and metrics can hurt a company. With different departments working toward their individual goals, silos develop as resentment grows. Sales hates marketing because of lead quality. Customer service/support hates sales because they told the customer that product could do something that it could not. In the end, every department resents the other. And, though they are all playing the politics game, smiling and pretending to be one big, happy family, each department is passive aggressively damaging other departments by developing these us-against-them silos that limit communication at the very least.  


The solution is simple. Create cross-departmentally shared goals. For example, tie marketing to sales goals/quotas. Tie sales to customer service or customer retention goals. Develop shared goals between customer support and product development and so on until every department has shared goals across the company. In this way, they are no longer my goals vs. your goals – they become OUR goals and no one can succeed without cross-departmental cooperation. Most importantly, make these shared goals the most important thing! Don’t celebrate or pay bonuses or commission based on low-level individualistic goals. Celebrate and pay commission/bonus based on shared goals instead. This will help to drive home the point that working as a team is much more beneficial to the individual.

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