Your Metric Tips
When you are ready to involve your team in discussing metrics it's important to look at and understand the language that you will use to introduce the concept to your employees. Sure, setting metrics is nothing new, but if handled wrong it can create the wrong mindset with employees.
You don't want this to become about "babysitting" or "micro-managing." If anyone uses these terms you need to stop immediately and address why the company is trying to establish metrics. It's not to see an employee fail. It's not to set them up to be caught doing something wrong. It's not to let someone go.
Metrics should be about empowering an employee to excel. You cannot expect someone to excel if they don't know what you expect from them in the first place. It's about creating a system for communicating when business is going well and when something needs attention. It is about allowing an employee to take control over their own future. It is about growth.
Tip #1: When rolling out the idea, make sure you use language that fits the culture of your business. If it doesn't sound like you, it won't seem realistic. If you have a fun and laid back culture have some fun with the metrics. Spend time getting the language right.
Tip #2: Give employees an analogy that relates to the idea of metrics. Often times if someone can look outside of their own role or current situation it's easier to connect with why this would be important. A few suggestions to get you started:
- Trying to put a puzzle together without a finished picture (or a piece of furniture from IKEA)
- Complete a recipe with no measurements
- Plan a road trip on the interstate with no mile markers
- Discuss the difference between a car in front of you turning with a turn signal, versus a car that turns without using the turn signal.
Remember, metrics exist not only to tell you the end result, but also to give you enough time to make adjustments.
Tip #3: Be aware of and discuss negative points of view. Negative points of view can erode and destroy the positive results you are trying to achieve by implementing metrics. We often see leaders take two approaches: avoidance or too direct. Avoidance will send a strong message to your team that it's not really that important. It will spread. Being too direct without listening to concerns will push the negativity underground and often towards passive aggressive behavior. Thus, it's important to know how you will handle negative reactions ahead of time. Be willing to engage with employees and remember that points of view change not when someone is "told," but when someone begins to think differently.
Tip #4: Discuss realistic time frames. If your team isn't currently hitting expectations you won't expect them to get there overnight. Discuss time frames for reaching the metrics and if the metrics are a stretch, set and plan for milestones. Reassure your team that you are not looking for things to change overnight, but that you are expecting to see improvements.
Tip #5: Have a plan. Setting and tracking metrics are important steps, but knowing where you are does not allow your company to immediately see changes. You must have a plan in place to discuss how the metrics will be used to reach new levels. Metrics are great for telling you when the ship needs adjusted or if it's off track. They can also help you uncover why and how your business is achieving results, but alone they will not turn the ship around. You must be prepared to match strategy up with the metrics to reach those new levels.