I am a Supervisor with a parcel company and have listened with interest to the cast and comments in the forums.

I am trying to define performance indicators to help me manage the performance of my staff (15 of them). The problem I am having is that the flow of the work is dictated by the volume of parcels that come through the depot and it can fluctuate dramatically.

I have gut feelings about which staff work harder than others, but there is no way of gathering data on what they are actually doing.

I started using the feedback model about 4 months ago and it deals with behaviours I don't like but doesn't help with identifying and managing performance.

Any comments would be most welcome.


juliahhavener's picture

Is there a rhythm and flow to that fluctuation? In a call center, calls don't always come in consistently, the same number, the same duration, etc. However, it's possible to come up with an average that is handled in and hour on a given day. If that average is 6 calls per hour, one representative could take 10 calls one hour and 2 calls the next, the average is still the same.

I would look for common items that can be measured over a greater amount of time. On average, does your facility handle approximately the same number of packages in a day's time? A week? A month? This is where I would look for the hard data to identify patterns and develop management strategies for performance improvements.

My two coppers.

apjaguar's picture

Thanks Julia I will think hard about the longer term data that could be available.

tokyotony's picture

In brief...since I think you are probably not paying your staff by parcel processed, you will probably want to look less at who is doing more "work" and more for those who are showing specific behaviors in efficiency and driving cost savings. Let's face it, the fastest person on the team might not be the best in behaviors elsewhere in the long-run.

Also, what about customer service? Has there been any positive feedback from your customers about certain individuals?

Just some initial thoughts.


Mark's picture


And where is positive feedback in the mix?


apjaguar's picture


I do use positive feedback (really I do) but simply neglected to mention it in the post, which probably indicates that I don't do it often enough or that it's not in the forefront of my thinking while the problem of poor performance is uppermost in my mind.

Mark's picture

First, I must have missed it the first time: love that avatar. Wicked good. I have a feeling that Scots and Texans would do well throwing a party.

No worries about the positive feedback. I have to ask - the majority of folks just assume it's negative... I can't be sure if I don't ask, and it makes a difference. Didn't mean to imply anything... just checking.

And, as side effort on this whole thing, I'd suggest you do bring it front of mind PARTICULARLY when poor performance is in your head. Because we do what we think about, we end up exacerbating the "moods" of our orgs.

Anyway! :wink:

Whenever I get asked about performance indicators, I start (no jokes!) with: what indicators come to your mind first, and what are your responses to your first thoughts? I find that a lot of managers act as if that someone somewhere has a magic vat of the "right" metrics, when in fact simple plain ones work best.

So, what jumps into your head? And what are your concerns about them?


apjaguar's picture

Maybe I should give more description of the workplace.

I am on a hands on Supervisor of what I like to think is a close knit team.

There are 2 main phases to our operation Primary and Secondary sortation.
As the primary sortation progresses some of the people drop out into the Secondary operation which involves them working on their own sorting a van round into courier drops.

When the Primary operation finishes the rest of the team help in the secondary sortation assisting those who are already in that side of the operation. Which can mask which of the team is not pulling their weight.

This primary/secondary process goes on throughout the night as lorries arrive with parcels to be processed.

Unfortunately the company IT systems have not been written with providing Line managers with performance data in mind and I have no way of accessing electronic information that will assist in a timely fashion.

What I am left with is a subjective response from myself with no data to back up what I perceive to be poor performers.


Mark's picture


Well said. Very helpful. I have some thoughts, but I have a neat idea.

Here's my thought: I think there's a barrier for a LOT of managers on this whole, "what SHOULD my metrics be?" question (per my earlier post). Lots of folks might benefit from an open discussion of this.

Why don't I blog about this situation. Sort of a, "hey, let's help a member think about his challenge, with a virtual asynchronous brainstorm on the blog." Maybe we'll get 20 responses, and let's see what folks say... I think you'll get some weirdness, and maybe we'll get a couple of interesting thoughts... and then I'll chime in.

Whaddaya say?


apjaguar's picture

Sounds good to me

Thanks very much

Mark's picture

Great. Tomorrow.


Mark's picture

I'm goint to promote this to the main blog, because I think so many managers struggle with coming up with metrics for the first time.

One more comment though: I really do think that feedback is a way to manage performance. I think it's the easiest way, in fact.


pavodive's picture

There are times (as this), when measuring performance individually is really hard. It might be possible, though, by adding some forms to fill, etc., but IMO that will be [b]more of an obstruction than of any help.[/b]

The other workaraound will be setting high standards and dividing the people into teams that will remain fixed for a period of time and then shuffled, allowing you to "correlate" variations against the standard for each given "sub-crew." Often, you'll be able to see that wherever the position (primary of secondary sortation) Mr. XYZ was working, it got the lowest efficiency. Some people may argue that second (or even higher) degree interactions (teams with Mr. XYZ and Mrs. ABC) can affect the outcome; but in my experiece, the tool is fairly good to identify who's who in the team.

Also, with a really tight standard, and results posted per sub-team on a regular basis (something of the like of "team A achieved a 87% this week"), the good people among the crew will start pointing to those who are ballasting the operation.

I hope that helps!