Previously I have written on the dangers and short comings of targets. Reading commentaries on the fate of Greece suggests part of problem may have arisen from targets.
In the past I have explained how targets can encourage otherwise honest people to cheat. Such can be the pressure to meet a target that we will find any excuse to hit the target. For example we will change or at least ‘bend’ the criteria and find another way of ‘getting the numbers’. In call centres agents failing to meet objectives have been known to cut off calls as soon as the phone rings so as to increase their call volumes and reduce their average call duration.
So where’s the Greek connection?
Well commentators have suggested that there was a degree of manipulation of ‘actuals’ to allow Greece to meet the entry requirements for the Euro. The implication being they would not have been granted entry to the Euro club. At the time, interested parties must have been keen for their admission.
The implications of this ‘cheating’ are now on display for all to see.
Are you burdened by seemingly impossible targets? You want to achieve, do a good job but struggle to hit the numbers.
Consider where that target came from. The outcome of many targets is not within the control of the worker. They are affected by external factors over which the individual has no control.
Take an ice cream vendor in kiosk at a British seaside resort. Sales are likely to be heavily influenced by the weather. If it’s a cool wet summer, less people are likely to be around. Hence less sales. Yes if the kiosk is on a good pitch this can increase sales, and so will a clean and tidy kiosk. But if it’s a wet and windy day sales will remain poor.
It’s easy for management to set targets where the results are primarily governed by factors over which the worker has no control. They cannot change the outcome.
The impact of such targets is to de-motivate. Gradual spirals of despondency set in with the workers and output falls further. The result is increased sickness, increased staff turnover. Performance decreases.
Targets can be dangerous. That’s all targets, not just sales.