People and Metrics

While watching an episode of Suits (a TV series), I came to realize (or deepen my realization on) a matter of human nature.

In case you do not watch the show yourself, Suits is a series about the law profession, albeit not a very good depiction of the real thing, from what I heard. Two law firms were merging, and the lowest performing associates were to be let go. Katrina, one of the partners, ran all the names through a computer system that was supposed to track employee performances and came up with a “fire” list.

Brian was on that list.

He was also the dad of a new born, which explained his performance drop.

To the untrained eyes of the partner, it was justified to fire Brian because his stats does not stack up against his peer. However, as Donna, the EQ-genius (if that’s even a thing) COO, pointed out, Brian’s performance was not just about the computer generated numbers. She showed to Katrina that the top 5 performing associates’ cubicles are all adjacent to Brian’s.

It is now up to the viewers (us) to read between the lines here. However, the Brian story is not uncommon. Systems can sometimes be cruel, and wrong, at the same time. There are always metrics that are not easily quantifiable, the human ones. Brian may not have been a brilliant employee according to the computer, but his is probably a great team player. He may have helped his team mates with their assignments without taking any credits. He may have been there as a support player and make the day merrier for others.

The Brian story reminds me of another blog post that I read very early in my career. Key takeaway? Metrics are useful, only if used properly.

Also, synergy and collaboration are way more important than any single individual’s skills, because the team with teamwork, works.


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