Single Number Alignment

Flying back from an awesome trip to Copenhagen, my pal in the adjacent seat reminded me of the perils of setting a sales target.  With a downturn inevitable in his technology-driven partly American marketplace, it turned out that his success in hitting 207% of his (profits-related) sales target the previous year, now gave him the ‘reward’ of a further significant quota increase even further beyond this.

As he spat several feathers whilst recounting the tale of how the news was broke, he then went on to illuminate that the person who set his targets also had others reporting into them.  What had effectively happened, was that as he’d has his number increased, so he’d raised everyone that fed into him to by 10%.  The problem was, that he was the only person likely to make money out of this.  Where’s the motivation in failing to make your 110, when he still makes 104 say across the board and looks like the star?

The final disgruntled line summed it up well, “you’d all want to feel you’re aligned behind the same number, wouldn’t you?”

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