Biz MetricsCall me an idealist, but I refuse to believe most individuals show up to work intentionally deciding to fail every day! The challenge with most individuals I mentor, teams or organizations I speak for or consult with is that either they’re not measuring the right outcomes, they’re not clearly understood and aligned or simply and painfully, mahogany row is completed disconnected from the mail room! So, as often as I can, in as many conversations as I can, I put it out there:

Tell me how you’re measured?

What I’m after are individual performance metrics that move that person. Ideally metrics that roll up to clearly illustrate that the individual’s activities, behavior and performance contribute to the team’s execution, and the organization’s results. They’re clearly understood as guidelines in supporting various stakeholder needs such as customers, shareholders or employees. Many are finance based focused on inward cultural norm, what I’m particularly listening for is how are your customers better off because they’re in a relationship with you? What metrics do you care about that help you ascertain the health of the organization in the market it has chosen to compete within, and where do you believe its unique value-add can win? Metrics I’m looking for in our conversation should be precise, clearly articulated, understood and aimed for by all, up, down and across the organization. As I share with most leaders, the staff CAN NOT follow you if they don’t understand where the ship is headed OR how we’re doing against a set of agreed upon outcomes and course corrections!

Here is my non-scientific findings in many of these conversations:

40% are genuinely confused, dumbfounded, or otherwise in a fog. They don’t know how to respond, so either they start blabbering about some textbook answer they heard in a recent meeting, ala “we aim to grow our return on assets by 722% over the next 5 years!?!?” or start describing nebulous measures that are so vague, ala “we aim to provide exceptional customer service!!” that I simply want to respond, “wow, that’s a relief. I thought you were going to be the first company on the planet to actually aim to deliver crappy service!”

40% ramble painstakingly about all that they do in a given day, week, or month. They’re all about input, which matters far less than the outcomes you’re able to achieve. I call this the “cover my behind, job security and protection” mode! They lose me at hello and I often disengage after 2-3 useless sentences.

20% really get it. They succinctly articulate 3-5 key metrics they, their team, and the entire organization is focused on. I hear not only how they’re measured but some sense of the carrot or the stick in exceeding those expectations or falling short. They don’t tell me everything they know; only what I need to know to want to know more! They’re fabulous in turning process conversations into specific, quantifiable output of work and targets against which results can be scored!

I love hearing about scorecards, thoughtful performance metrics, peer reviews, and course corrections when we understand not just what’s happening, but uncover cause and effect insights. I believe metrics can improve setting and consistently aligning expectations up, down, and across the organization; which become the basis for fantastic relationships.

So, tell me, how are YOU measured?

Make it a great week.

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