Are you Suffering from Benchmarking Skepticism
In 1989 I started my company to improve human potential in all areas of knowledge work. As my company grew, I would run across clients saying they had been approached by companies who wanted to use Benchmarking. I was a strong advocate on the side of not Benchmarking. My logic was simple. Typically, those setting the benchmark were people in roles they were proficient in and they would set incomplete and sometime unrealistic standards for those same jobs. So if you were great at project management you could set the benchmark for the project management position. My concern was who made that person setting that benchmark great at project management? Was he or she the best in the world or the best at that company? My intuition proved right because a lot of benchmarking was not effective because those setting the benchmarks were not superior performers. My definition of a superior performer has to do with the specific attention given to how they do what they do and what intrinsically motivated them to come to work every day married to personal and workload competencies. What many companies were selling for the Benchmarking process were ranking attributes that were heavily biased.
However, today I am a 100% strong advocate for benchmarking in many areas. I recommended benchmarking for hiring, developing, and leading a workforce to increase retention and job satisfaction and add to the bottom line. So you might be asking what turned me around from skeptic to advocate. The answer lies in doing a benchmark correctly by understanding the job in three critical areas of job performance. The three areas of job performance are: how they do what they do every day, what excites and motivates them to come to work each and every day, and what attributes (both personal and workload skills) must they know to be proficient at performing the job at a master level. As a bonus, I also incorporate Emotional Intelligence assessments as an additional way to understand how they will manage their emotions and get along well with others on the team. Above all else you must allow “the job to talk” without letting bias creep into the benchmarking process.
This process of not allowing bias to creep in begins by making sure you have a certified qualified facilitator to work with your organization through the benchmarking process. The facilitator’s role will immediately eliminate any bias in benchmarking. This is accomplished by identifying key accountabilities from various subject matter experts. Each facilitator is trained to help the subject matter experts not only consider their bias, but assist in showing how to completely understand the job. Once this is accomplished, the subject matter experts can actually completely understand the job, which allows for better identification of competencies and personal skills. Each subject matter expert then participates in a questionnaire which will measure these findings. They then group and compare all the results and construct the benchmark. Next, you run your comparisons and gap reports for either new hires or construction of individual development plans for existing team members. Now you can begin the process of hiring, shortening ramp up time, retention and development.
This sounds plausible, but does this work? Yes! That’s another reason why I am no longer a skeptic. Let me share one result my strategic partners conducted recently where the customer satisfaction ranking increased 50% to a top ten ranking in the country. In addition, a secondary goal of increased referral business improved dramatically to the point the CEO estimated that leveraging their strengths and building upon them will see $100,000,000 in annual new revenue when this initiative runs it course. This is one of many recommendations from small, medium, and large organizations that help to turn around my skepticism into passion for benchmarking. Perhaps you should investigate this proven method for your workforce.
A note about Sales Leadership The Gulas Group will be conducting our Sales Leadership Development Class in Huntsville Alabama on November 30 and December 1, 2010. This is why you must attend:
If you could do just one thing to improve the performance of your organization's sales managers – and, by extension, the performance of your reps – what would that one thing be? The answer, according to a new study, is to provide professional development for your sales managers. Still, nearly half of organizations say they do nothing in this area.
In EcSELL Institute's "Sales Management Study, Report 3," released in June, the professional-development gap between organizations on pace to achieve their 2010 sales goals and organizations not on pace was the largest of all measured gaps. Of those on target to meet their goals, 64 percent provided professional development for sales managers; of those not on target, only 36 percent provided professional development resources for their management team. "To me, that's a direct correlation," says William Eckstrom, founder and president of EcSELL Institute.
Yet 45 percent of the report's respondents said they do nothing in the area of professional development. This finding was in line with the findings of a CSO Insights' Sales Management Optimization study, which found that 46 percent of companies surveyed spend less than $1,500 a year on sales-management training. Barry Trailer, managing partner for CSO Insights, urged organizations to make changes. "With the complexity of the job of sales manager increasing," he says, "we have to invest more in giving these individuals the tools and training they need to coach and mentor their teams if we expect to see win rates improve, margins stabilize, sell-cycle times start to decrease, etc."
Credit: Selling Power Sales Management Newsletter 09/16/10