You may have noticed in recent years that for every job you complete there is a great deal of data recorded that would not have been deemed necessary a few years ago, and you might be wondering why.

The main reason is that managers have to constantly justify every person they employ and every penny they spend, and their word is not good enough. In order to justify next year’s budget, every aspect of this year’s spending, hours worked, equipment purchased, and even telephone calls made has to be presented in a form that the bean counters can understand.

We all know that statistics can be misleading; take the example of the chart that showed the numbers of calls our engineers were completing each day: it showed that one particular person was managing one or two calls per day but others were completing fifteen or twenty, so was there a lazybones in our midst? Were we carrying dead weight? The chart seemed to point to this, so how does our two-a-day team member get away with it?

Yes, it is obvious to us that he was doing jobs that took three or four hours to complete; in fact, he was working more than his paid hours. Other people had been catching up with routine inspection work; an inspection takes about five minutes, so it is easy to make a bit of time on them and still log a lot of calls.

So what about the intangible benefits that you achieve with your work? The customer goodwill, the good stuff that you do that nobody gets to record, the extra mile traveled to make sure that the customer is happy? All this cannot be shown on a pie chart. The benefits don’t show up until the next time the customer places an order for new equipment, and that credit will go to the salesperson who closes the deal, not the grease monkey who worked for months to please the customer. If you achieve a good result with a customer, it is up to you to make it known to the people who count.