Is No 'Easy Rider'
With A Cause
Change Is No Change At All
Balance Sheet: Hidden Costs of Open Book Management
Measure For Measure
"Friends, Romans and countrymen - lend me your ears." Shakespeare's famous lines from "Julius Caesar" were Antony's plea for the crowd to really listen to him. Today, many organizations strive to "lend their ears" to their customers - both external and internal. Many companies 'check' that they are listening through the use of performance measurement systems. It sounds uncomplicated enough, but all too often organizations do not focus on what the customers are saying, but instead are bogged down with meeting technical standards and achieving financial outcomes. Although these are measurements of performance, do they actually measure if the customer's needs are being met? An organization at Merrill Lynch asked itself that question, and the answer was 'no.'
Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), Plainsboro, N.J., a 1200 employee technology organization within Merrill Lynch, handles information processing, telecommunications and support services to all personnel worldwide. Through informal interviews, ETS employees were simply asked "how do you know if you're doing a good job" and "how do you know if your department is doing a good job?" Responses such as "good question" and "I don't know" were unsettling, but the fact that few people cited feedback from the customer as a determinant was even more daunting. And though many employees noted "setting their own standards" as a determinant, the most common response was "my boss lets me know."
These interviews were the result of ETS creating a new mission and strategic thrust focusing on world class service delivery. "This came as a revelation to employees," states Jim McCormick, first vice president and line manager, "they don't think of themselves as service delivery - they think of themselves as a technical, data or network organization." The new mission put the focus on the customer - in particular, the internal customer and prompted McCormick, partnered with Marc Spaulding of Change Management Association, Derry, N.H., to take a closer look at their performance measurement systems. When they did, many discoveries made the case for change. For one, there were discrepancies in measurement throughout the organization - i.e., what was actually being measured and rewarded on a daily basis was often very different from what top management had stated would be measured during strategic planning. Secondly, performance measures were not being supported and utilized company-wide. In fact, senior levels often problem-solved by blaming rather than resolving. In addition to low ratings on departmental employee morale surveys, management heard talk of service and client satisfaction problems. Lastly, no data existed on how key internal clients viewed ETS' performance.
With these drivers in mind, an ETS core management team initiated a change effort to design and implement a performance measurement system to focus on the activities, results and behaviors that are most important to internal and external customers. This effort included three phases: awareness, implementation and acceptance.
Awareness: Overcoming Denial
1. Developing meaningful measures: Is knowing how many
phone calls were processed and how many statements were sent to customers
Through internal interviews several client satisfaction
drivers were established: client relationship, delivery, capacity,
These client satisfaction drivers became a key part of
the new performance measurement system and provided the framework for an
ETS performance survey. The survey results showed that although only eight
percent of clients were dissatisfied with ETS' performance, only 20 percent
rated ETS' performance as satisfactory or above.
Implementation: Making it Work
Understanding the good, the bad, the ugly
Achieving a process view
Establishing a methodology for problem solving
Developing a continuous improvement process
Using goal formation & policy deployment
Acceptance: Addressing Everyone's Needs
ETS performance measurement system is still a work in progress. The next steps include training, collecting data, setting goals and aligning employee performance around the key check points. Getting buy-in is still the biggest challenge. According to Spaulding, "Unless everybody in the organization from top to bottom lines up around the measures, cynicism will continue to spread and Dilbert comics will be posted outside everybody's cubicle."