Somewhere in the UK, the private enforcement company that writes parking tickets has, gasp, gives a quota of slightly over 1 parking ticket written per hour. The press, the government, the populace are all horrified. Read about it here. The money quote:
Walsall Council has asked for an urgent inquiry.
Where to begin with this one. First — I can see no reason why the CHP, LAPD, NYPD, CSI, Parking Enforcement, building inspectors, or even magazine editors shouldn’t have goals set for them. It’s absurd not to do so. To be fair, one can look back on a year’s worth of work, and then divide it up into hours, days, weeks and the like. Then set a goal. How the hell can we know if we are successful if what we are doing is not measurable. If I don’t write at least three blogs a day, frankly I have failed. Unfortunately if I write 15 on Monday and then none the rest of the week, in my job, that won’t cut it. I need three a day, or more. If I make five or six, like today, I go home feeling pretty good. But if I do only one, or none, even with good reason, I don’t feel quite so good. This has little to do with payment, and it has everything to do with accomplishment. For a task to be of value, it must have measure.
So the managers at APCOA in the UK have supposedly set a goal of nine parking tickets a day for their officers. NINE. I’m in the parking business. I have studied this until I’m blue in the face. I know that at least three in ten, if not more, of every car parked on the street is most likely (or soon will be) in violation. It’s a fact of life, like the tides or the phases of the moon. What is the problem? Moreover, if our parking enforcement warden in Walsall can’t find 10 a day to cite, then there are either too many wardens, or he/she needs to find a good eye doctor. This is just good management. If anyone says that the good folks in Walsall don’t cheat when they park, I will dismiss that out of hand.
Can the goals be set too high? Certainly. Can managers take advantage? Of Course. Can employees shirk their duties? Almost every day. That’s why we have supervisors, managers, and the like. To do their jobs they need a measure. Ask any good salesman. Without a goal, it’s not any fun.
I put a security system in Motorola’s cell phone factory in East Kilbride in Scotland. I got to know the plant manager fairly well and got an extensive tour. There were large signs at the end of each assembly line (there were 10 lines or teams). The signs had electronic numbers changing on them all the time. He told me that the numbers were the number of units assembled per day less the number of rejects. He said that in this case, there were no goals. It simply allowed the “teams” to know how they stood in relationship with the others. Sometime, once a quarter maybe, a trophy was given. We can set goals, but frankly most people will set higher ones for themselves. My guess is that APCOA could simply list all the officers in Walsall and the number of tickets written each day. The problem would take care of itself.
The last thing we need is an “urgent inquiry.”