Nicole had the numbers posted. She was still working side by side with the team, helping on the line, but at least the numbers were posted.
“But, we didn’t make our goal,” Nicole shook her head. “That’s why I was afraid to write the numbers on the white board, before.”
I ignored her body language. “Nicole, I want you to add another number to the board. I want you to post yesterday’s numbers next to the goal numbers. For right now, I just want you to focus your team on improvement over yesterday.”
“Well, that should be easy,” snorted Nicole.
“That’s the point. Make improvement easy. Then focus on it.”
“I just wanted to tell you that I have to give my two weeks notice. I found another job that pays more money and I can’t turn it down.” There was an awkward silence as Barbara tried to gather her thoughts to respond to Howard, her best lead technician.
Her first instinct was to find out how much more money and counter the offer, persuade Howard to stay. Patience got the better of her and she replied, “Howard, I know this was a tough decision for you. I also know that decisions like this are complicated and rarely determined by a single factor. You said you were leaving for money, but I have to believe there may be other reasons, too. Since you have made a decision to leave, would you do me a favor and spend some time talking with me about things we could do differently around here. Your thoughts might make a difference to your other team members.”
Countering an offer for higher wages seldom works. There are usually other, more compelling circumstances that drive a team member to another company. As the manager, if you cannot improve those circumstances, more money will only delay the inevitable. First, you have to fix what’s wrong.
“So, what do you think?” asked Lenny. “How do you think my team is doing?”
“I don’t know. How do you measure how you are doing?” I replied.
“That’s the thing. We aren’t sure what to measure against. We got some studies of companies that are sort of like us, but the benchmarks they use seem so different. They just don’t make sense.”
“Two things,” I said. “Pick what you think is important. Start measuring now.”
“But, what do we measure against? How do we know if we are doing okay or not?”
“Measure against yourself. So many companies chase each other’s tail around and end up back where they started. Figure out what is important to your customer and measure that. That’s all your customer cares about. What else matters? Measure the second day against the first day. Measure the third day against the second day. Pretty soon, you will see a trend. Before you know it, you will have one year’s worth of data. Start measuring now.”