Can I measure that?


The other day I was in a well-known DIY store (although it could have been in any one of the big retailers).  I couldn’t find the light bulbs I was looking for so I went to the front to ask for help.  There was a lady standing near the entrance, someone in a ‘greeter’ type of role – perfect!  And she was very helpful, took me to the desk to check stock levels and then took me to where it was in store.

As we walked away from the light bulb aisle she told me –

“I’m so glad you asked me for help.  I’m so bored because my manager’s told me I need to stand at the front all day, I’m not allowed to move from that spot, and I need to tell every customer that we’ve got X% off kitchens and bathrooms.  Half the people don’t even care!  I’m doing a job that a poster could do!!

My normal job is to be a proper greeter, helping people like you, getting to know what customers are after, having a chat about their day.  It’s so much more interesting.  If I’m honest, I think my manager’s trying to get rid of me, but I’m not that bothered.  He can if he wants to.”

What can I say.  That short conversation just summarised all that is wrong, all that has gone bad in a world of measures.  You can just imagine it –

The input – Regional Manager challenges their team to hit the sales targets of kitchens & bathrooms, ideally to sell the most in the country so they can be heralded ‘the best’ regional team!

The result – Store Managers find any way possible to sell, sell, sell!  Doesn’t matter how – just sell.  Blunt instrument to crack this particular nut – try and flog kitchens & bathrooms to anybody and everybody no matter what they actually came in for.  No relationships built, in fact many customers potentially put off by the hard sell, customers who may well go elsewhere next time they need something diy-related.

Not only that, you’ve got a manager taking a colleague away from a role she loves, just ‘telling’ her WHAT she has to do – not WHY, so she doesn’t believe in it.  And a manager who may have performance issues with this colleague but who hasn’t faced into them in a way that treats her with dignity, as a human being, to give her the chance to improve.

And do you know what, if he’d talked to her about why selling kitchens & bathrooms was important, and if he’d let her do that alongside her normal job of helping people, she might just be getting better results, and she’d be a lot happier too!

I’m not saying we shouldn’t measure sales, or any other ‘hard metric’ for that matter.  It would feel a tiny bit crazy to not know how much a retailer is selling, given that’s kinda what their business depends on!  But I really think there’s a big request of HR pros here to step forward and help their organisations to figure out a way to measure the ‘how’, so that the way people get their results is just as important as the results themselves.

What are the measures of success in your organisation?

Do they encourage people to achieve results in the best way?

How do you know?

[Thanks to for the picture]

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