A Christmas Tale of Targets and Cheating

It’s Christmas parcel time!

Working from home yesterday we took delivery of two packages from different merchants, using different couriers. As normal, I was informed that they would be delivered at certain times:

Parcel A:

Parcel B:

Here are three different perspectives on the service provided, all based on facts and data:


Contract KPI meeting between Merchant and Courier
Good news – our KPIs clearly show that we hit target on the the Gilson contract and 100% of deliveries were made on time, with goods intact. We paid our drivers their bonuses and, in accordance with the contract, we will now pay the Courier firms their bonuses too. Well done all:

Parcel A was due between 08:42 and 09:42 – success!

Parcel B was due between 1pm and 5pm – success!


Courier Drivers’ View

Parcel A
It was a tough day today, but I worked my socks off to get everything done on time. My supervisor often checks the signatures I get from customers, but she trusts me to be honest when I can’t get someone to sign. She also turns up on my round sometimes to see how I’m getting on, which I appreciate. There is give and take when I run into problems on my round and my pay isn’t affected if I miss a delivery slot as a result.

Parcel B
I had a decent day today – delivered all my parcels and made my bonus. It’s really tough to get around all the deliveries at this time of year, so I was happy to get finished early and get some time at home with my family.
I never see our managers out here, they just look at my timesheet data so I make sure that shows what they want and I don’t get noticed. Sometimes the system lets me down and the parcels are wrong when they get to me. Although this isn’t my fault, I still get penalised and I always fear losing my bonus, so I play the system a bit to keep a fair level of pay.


My View – The Customer
My first delivery turned up just before 09:00 – right in the hour slot they gave me. I was asked for an electronic signature to verify that I had received the package.
The second delivery arrived unexpectedly early, around 10:00. It was lucky someone was in, as I was due to go out ahead of the scheduled delivery slot in the afternoon. The courier didn’t get me to sign anything to verify receipt, but I guess that’s just the system they use. Having offered such a wide time-slot, it seems very poor that he failed to turn up at the right time. Luckily, it worked out ok for me on this occasion.
I was surprised to receive an email this afternoon telling me that the second parcel had been delivered at 14:42, as this is completely wrong. I don’t want to make a fuss though, as I suspect it will affect the pay of the driver and I don’t want that to happen.
It’s odd that the courier who delivered at the wrong time was the one who offered a 4-hour time-slot. This is far more disruptive to my day, but you would have thought it would be easier to hit. The on-time delivery offered a 1-hour slot and got it spot on – far better for me as a customer.
Mind you, although good, it would be perfect if I could choose an hour that best suits me, rather than having a time forced on me, but no one seems to offer that!

3 views, 3 different perspectives, all based on the data in front of them.

Conclusions from this perspective:

• Bonus systems will always cause some workers to cheat
• Performance measures are only worthwhile if the culture and systems allow the data to be accurate
• Managers should always spend enough time in the work to know what is actually happening, rather than what they think should be happening.
• Setting wider targets makes no difference to whether you hit them – the system decides that

I suspect that Courier B management and their merchant customer are blissfully unaware of their actual, current performance. I wonder how rosy it all seems in their Ivory Tower?

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