At work, only Quality matters, and Quantity does not
Blog | 11.15.2013

The Complacency Trap of Measuring Only Work Quantity

I keep hearing this statement every time I demonstrate Sapience software which automatically measures effort at all levels – from individual work time, to work patterns at each level of the company hierarchy.

Often managers argue against this work measurement, countering with the argument that they are more than happy if an employee is delivering on his tasks on time and to reasonable quality, even though s/he is working only for 4-5 hours a day. At first I couldn’t find anything wrong with this statement. As a manager if I am getting my work done, why bother with number of hours. Tracking time sounds so archaic in today’s knowledge age.

But on more reflection, I realized that this approach represents complacence, and ignores the business need to continually raise the performance bar and aim for greatness and not ‘good enough’.

Quality and Quantity – together can mean the difference between awesome and normal!

It is consistent with the modern 24×7 work style, to say that one should not raise an eyebrow if someone spends less time in the office once in a while. However, the long term trends do matter. If your teams are constantly putting in significantly less work hours, then there is a significant price being paid.

Here I list some of the risks:

  1. Low performance bar – Honestly, isn’t your performance bar set too low if most of your team members are easily able to deliver their work well before allotted time. As a manager, we must constantly set the performance bar so that it looks difficult but is still achievable if everyone puts in their best effort. This challenges the team to be focused and innovative, rather than be complacent and laid back.
  1. Missed opportunity for multiplier effect – Here I talk of an opportunity lost. Assuming that you have a great team, but not enough customer work to keep them busy, then why not do what everyone claims they would love to do if only they had the time? Instead of less work time, why not motivate them to add or create something unexpected in the product, and delight the customer or the organization. Unleashing these innovation instincts creates a multiplier effect that can propel your team and business to a much higher orbit.
  1. Assets unutilized – It is Finance 101 to not have unutilized assets. You are failing at your job if you let your most important assets (your top notch team) lie under-utilized. As a manager, an important responsibility is optimal work distribution across people and teams. Leaving assets under-utilized has a direct hit on profit margins.
  1. Performers get bored – You know that you have outstanding performers in your team who are delivering their assigned work in half the time allotted to them. This shows they are ready for bigger things. If you don’t give them even more challenging tasks, they will get bored with the same easy routine. Remember, star performers who are bored look for greener pastures – in a different group or worse still, another company.
  1. Hurdle in career growth – A manager’s key responsibility is to help in the professional growth of team members. You may be failing in this duty by not challenging them to become more efficient, up their skills, and innovate.