Friday, 28 January 2011

How Many Benchmarks in your Day?

Benchmarking might appear to be a pretty academic concept, yet it’s amazing how much we use it at work and at home.

Are you happy with what you are paid? Having a rough idea of the national average or how much people earn in our line of business makes a difference: so much of a difference that this benchmark affects how happy we are with our work.

What time do you set your alarm for in the morning? Knowing that you will function well on 8 hours sleep affects your attitude and demeanour the following day. A daily benchmark we use without even thinking about it.

How many hours a day do your colleagues work? Having a rough idea also affects how satisfied you are with the number of hours you have to put in to get your work done. Benchmarks are everywhere, even though they don’t have that label.

I was looking up how many telephone calls professional telesales people make a day. 100 calls a day gets bandied about on forums that discuss this sort of thing. 100 calls a day! Wow! That’s a huge number. Well it might seem that way to me, but to some it’s a normal day in the office, and they fit in other work besides.

Benchmarking is important because it gives us an idea of what’s possible, what’s exceptional, and what’s sub-optimal. When managing a business, that’s hugely important.

Being able to measure and benchmark people’s capabilities and achievements enables everyone to reach for their best. And that’s when people are at their happiest – when they are striving for something that’s worthwhile, difficult but achievable.

Benchmarking is also a way to solve problems. Once you can measure the current position, and compare that to some sort of benchmark, you can start to figure how big or small a problem you have. And even where you might look to start solving it.

So keep a look out for where you are, and are not, guided by benchmarks. Some of them might surprise you.

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