Slicing and Dicing, Babushka-Style

Small functional teams with a single manager do well with just one set of metrics. Larger teams require a more sophisticated approach to metrics, whereby each geographical area, each manager, and each product line gets a customized view of the data, yielding more focused and therefore more useful reports. One of the obstacles in the quest for detailed metrics is whether the system keeps track of the information you need to retrieve and arrange the data. For instance, many systems do a poor job of tracking reps' managers, making it virtually impossible to get a report for only manager X, while region Y (or product Z) may be an easier task. Do not assume that the tracking system will accommodate your reporting needs and always make sure that the variables you want to report by are indeed tracked. This should be surfaced during the kickoff workshop. Assuming that your system can keep track of who reports to whom, you will end up with what I call babushka-style ("Russian doll" style) metrics through which:

  • First-line managers see detailed information for all the staff members in their teams.
  • Second-level managers see aggregate metrics for each of their teams, without having to wade through metrics at the individual level.
  • Directors can see metrics by region, with details for each team within the region.
  • The worldwide VP can see metrics by geographical area.

Babushka metrics allow managers to zero in on exactly the level of detail they care about, making them more productive and improving their opinion of the usefulness of the tool, which is a nice benefit in the early days of the rollout. Besides the time savings for managers, babushka metrics make it easy to spot and remedy errors. Errors are often hard to find in high-level rollups, but first-level managers can usually spot errors immediately in their reports. Since it's to their obvious benefit to get the errors corrected they are likely to take appropriate action. For instance, if a sales rep left the company but was erroneously left as "active" in the system, his abysmal productivity will cause his team's productivity to dip, prompting his direct manager to resolve the problem on the spot. His (former) second-level manager may notice a problem, but would probably not be able to link it back to the cause as quickly. Using babushka metrics will improve the quality of the entire metrics set. Make babushka metrics a part of the first phase of the rollout, even if you have to sacrifice some of the scope of the metrics set in exchange.