Metrics: Gaining alignment on what matters

I was reminded again that what gets measured gets managed and if you don’t have metrics alignment within your team, you can end up at cross purposes. In the airline industry, gate agents are measured against on-time performance. I am not really sure what flight attendants are measured on, but it is not on time performance. This disconnect was evident on a recent flight.

As I was boarding the plane the “purser” (that would be the lead flight attendant on that flight) who was clearly needing to assert his authority over the gate agent and reminded him that he was the “…purser on this flight,” was reprimanding the gate agent for allowing Coach class customers to board before he (the purser) had given permission. (The fact that this reprimand was going on in public is a whole other conversation.)

The purser noted that he had “graciously” allowed the gate agent to board the First Class passengers before the plane was completely cleaned, but that the gate agent had clearly overstepped his bounds by then boarding the Coach passengers before the purser had granted permission. Such behavior was not to be tolerated, and he wanted the gate agent to know this, even though the cleaners had left the plane before any Coach passengers had tried to board.

I understand the issue of complicating the cleaning process and the boarding process, which is not the issue here anyway, since the cleaners had left the plane. The gate agent was focused on his metric: getting the plane off on time. The flight attendant is not measured on that and has no empathy for that situation. Results: Teammates at odds with each other due to differing metrics of performance.

Are your people focused on differing metrics, which may in fact be in conflict with each other? How is this impacting your customers? And what about employee morale?


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1 Response to Metrics: Gaining alignment on what matters

  1. Robert E says:

    There are so many examples I see of how companies create internal “accidental adversaries” because what they are measured on is at odds with working together.
    My observation, when flying, is that the flight attendants often are scolding the passengers for not getting into their seats fast enough. This, of course, after we waited to board, waited in line with our group, waited in the ramp behind the other passengers as we slowly made our way to the plane. Then, suddenly, it’s our fault that it’s taking so long to get settled.
    And then on-time is merely measured by shutting the door to the aircraft, so you don’t “get off on time” just get to wait some more.
    That is why airlines focus on their on-time metrics rather than customer satisfaction ratings.

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