I had a package sent via USPS Express Mail with Delivery Confirmation two weeks ago. I expected the package to arrive on Wednesday. I watched with excitement as the package was shipped early, and was a bit surprised when I saw the delivery confirmation for Saturday. I checked the mail…no package. I checked the porch…no package. The garage was equally bereft of packagy goodness. No one had seen, heard, touched or sensed a package. Not good.
I contacted the USPS online to express my concern. They assigned a case number and let me know they would be in touch within two days. Three days passed with no word. I followed up diligently and politely, but no response came. Finally, I dropped into my local USPS office and questioned them. They had indeed heard of the issue, they said, and were looking into it. They spoke with the carrier, who let them know she had taken the package up our driveway and left it on the porch. Still not good.
While this was going on, I had another package confirmed as delivered. It was also nowhere to be seen. Lack of good now twice confirmed.
Yesterday I received a call that my packages were never delivered, and were waiting at the USPS office to be picked up.
My concern is not that my packages were late. They weren’t terribly valuable, important or hard to replace. My bigger concern is over the “confirmed delivery” feature, which apparently is just an indicator that someone scanned the package and marked it confirmed. No indicator of where it was confirmed, despite the easy access to GPS systems these days for geocaching as a service. (UPS or FedEx, that’s a free idea. Take it. Never lose a delivery again!) It makes me look at our metrics and think, “How easy would it be to get around this?”
Good metrics are indicative of trends. Point measures are much easier to manipulate, but measuring performance over time helps to smooth outliers and eliminate the potential impact of one biased observer. Discrete measures can be manipulated short term. Need to reduce headcount? Hold a RIF, hire them back as temps! Need to reduce your expenses for this quarter? Hold that expense report until the end of the month!
Trying to influence HR ROIC? Or HR – HC ratios? Or days per hire over the last year? Much more difficult. And that’s why those metrics are more meaningful. They are truer measures of performance and harder to manipulate. Take a look at your metrics and think about how to make them look better. If you can find a way to change the number without a change in behavior, that metric is bad.