Always Be Measuring

"If you don't measure it, you can't manage it." With that quote, Don Ross of Kessler Consulting began Wednesday's "Measuring Your Effectiveness and Improving Your Productivity" workshop.

The thrust of Ross' lecture was that the frequent evaluation of some fairly simple performance indicators can quickly identify performance problems and dramatically improve a firm's productivity and profitability. Such performance indicators include a driver's stops per hour, lifts per hour and cubic yards collected per hour, among others. Ross mentioned that some firms measure these statistics on a weekly basis.

The workshop was part of the two-day Waste Training Institute, which ended on Wednesday and was dedicated to helping waste firms of all sizes become more effective and efficient.

First off, aggressively evaluating such statistics can help a firm efficiently determine whether its pricing structure is appropriate. Secondly, frequent calculation of these stats can aid a company in identifying both inefficiently designed routes and/or problem drivers.

Performance indicators provide a quantitative basis for annual reviews and other performance evaluations, Ross noted. He also suggested using the statistics to create "friendly competition" among drivers. Firms can display charts in their offices ranking drivers by a performance indicator, such as cubic yards collected per hour. "Nobody wants to be last on that list," he said.

Ross also stressed that firms must make clear to employees that a focus on increased productivity is not a license to speed or to engage in any other unsafe behaviors. The solid waste industry is one of the most dangerous in the country, and firms need to adopt a "zero tolerance" for risky behaviors, Ross said.

"We're just collecting garbage," he said. "Nobody should die doing this."

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