Six Steps to Better Metrics

Nov 10, 2020

Do you have metrics in place to measure your job performance? Do your team members have their own measurements in place for their goals? 

Metrics and measurements are a vital part of working towards a goal, individually and collectively. Without metrics, how are you supposed to know what you’re striving for? When team members have clear measurements in place for their role and understand how they will be quantified, goals don’t appear as lofty and motivation rises. Clear metrics make for a happy team and a happy and effective leader. 

In this episode, I dive into the details of my “Six Steps to Better Measurement” that I live by and use in my own personal and professional goals. Tune in to Episode 2 to learn about the importance of metrics, the six steps, and my challenge for you this week. 

In This Episode You Will Learn 

  • Why you should believe metrics are important (4:37)
  • How to decide what to measure (6:07)
  • My favorite takeaways from the book Leadership Fables (9:57)
  • Why you should define how your measure will quantify (10:57)
  • The importance of gathering baseline data (12:01)
  • Why you need to set a clear timeframe for an employee to follow up with you (13:43)
  • What to do if someone is unwilling to measure (15:39)
  • Why celebration is a key step for reinforcement (17:38)
  • How I applied measurements to parenting (19:43)
  • My challenge for listeners (23:49)

 6 Steps to better metrics with your team:

  1. Believe Metrics are important (and help your team believe it as well) 
  2. Decide what to measure 
  3. Decide how your measure will be quantified 
  4. Gather baseline data and set minimum standards, expectations, or goals 
  5. Set a clear follow-up timeframe 
  6. Celebrate successes 

Mentioned in this episode:

Let’s connect!

Transcript 

Clint Hoopes:

This is the Flavor of Leadership podcast. I am your host, Clint Hoopes. Together, we explore the unique blend of leadership wisdom that helps top leaders consistently achieve work goals, develop personally and find fulfillment with family. Let's get started.

Welcome back to the Flavor of Leadership podcast. This is episode number two, and today we are going to be discussing how clear metrics make for a happy team and a happy and effective leader. You know, I don't know about you, but growing up for me, we had a basketball hoop out in our driveway, and we used to love to play basketball out there. And one game we used to love to play was the game of HORSE.

For any of you who might not know what the game of HORSE is, the game of HORSE, essentially, is played like this. Essentially, the five letters that are in the word HORSE each represent a strike, essentially. So five strikes and you're out of the game. And so if you don't make a shot, then you get a strike or a letter. And so if you miss one shot, you get an H. Miss the second shot, it's H-O and so forth until you spell all five letters of the word horse, and then you're out of the game. So we used to play this growing up. I played this with my dad and my brothers. I actually have three brothers, so my parents had four boys and we used to play with my dad and we'd go out and play HORSE. And often we would, that would help determine who ended up with the duty of doing the dishes or pulling weeds or fill in the blank with any type of chore that was undesirable.

And so what would often happen is, is you would get down to where you are at H-O-R-S. So literally one strike left and you were out of the game and you are the one stuck doing the dishes or pulling the weeds. And you can only imagine that at the end of the game, the intensity and focus would change. When you're down to the wire and you only have one shot left, the intensity changed. You saw what was going to happen. You know, I've seen the same thing happen in teams where they have goals and the goals are clear and everyone is dialed in. They know what the goal is. They know what it looks like to win. And everyone comes together to help hit that goal. Or if it's an individual, same thing. That individual does everything they can to hit that goal, even if it's something small, because you know, deep down, all of us want to win.

We don't want to lose. And so if we don't know what we're aiming for, essentially we'll end up just kind of wandering aimlessly. And we'll never really know when we arrive wherever it is without defining what the goal is. And so this goes for our team members as well as ourselves. So really, who should have metrics or measurement? Gosh, all of us. All of us should, at least anyone who wants to experience success. And if you're listening here today, I'm sure you want to experience success.

So I have six steps to better metrics or better measurement for you and your team. So as you're working with someone with a team member, these are some steps you can follow to make sure you're on the right track with, in terms of measurement. So first one, I'm going to read these off, and then let's go ahead and we'll break it down and talk about each one individually. The first one, believe metrics are important and caveat, help your team believe it as well. Right? Two, decide what to measure. Three, decide how your measurement will be quantified. Four, gather baseline data and set minimum standards, expectations, or goals. Five, set a clear follow up timeframe. Six, celebrate successes.

All right, let's start at the beginning. First one, believe metrics are important and help your team believe as well. So many people will be tempted to skip this step. Now, why would you want to skip this step? Oh, people already know. Everyone already knows how important measurement and metrics are. Of course, of course, people understand. I'll tell you they don't. Unless you've already been talking about it as a team a lot, they probably don't know. Even if they tell you that they agree that it's important, you as their leader will come to them and say, "Hey, you know, we're talking about measurements. You understand those are important, right?" And they'll say, "Oh yes, of course." Because in their mind, they're thinking, "Well, if it's important to my boss, it is important to me." Right? But don't skip this step. Fill it out, help them understand how metrics, help us understand where we are and helps us understand what a good job looks like.

Because if we don't know what a good job looks like, how are we ever supposed to do a good job? Our people want to do a good job. Even our poor employees often, the ones that aren't performing as well as we would like deep down want to do a good job. People don't want to fail. And so help people understand how measurement helps them accomplish their ultimate goals of success and winning.

All right, number two, decide what to measure. Now, this is one that you got to be careful. When you measure something, you will typically get exactly what you ask for. So sometimes that can have unintended consequences. As a leader, you might help someone learn to measure something and it might not be the thing that's the highest impact that you even want to have them focusing on. So be careful that you're leading them as you measure them, and helping them understand what's most important to the organization, to your department, whatever it might be and to help them accomplish whatever their goal is.

Once again, they know what a good job looks like in their job or whatever they're doing, or if it's a project and then you help them decide what to measure. Help them figure out and see what will have the biggest impact. Now do your best on this, knowing that it can change over time. It's okay. If it's not something you've been measuring for a long time, and there's not a lot of data, it can change. In fact, it should change over time as the goals of the organization and the individual also change. It makes sense to measure things differently. So it's okay if it's not perfect. It can be refined as you go along. So what should you measure? Well, really there are lots of things that can be measured, but like we said, it should be what has the highest impact on the metrics that you want?

So a salesman, it's pretty easy, you want to have sales, which ultimately brings revenue to the organization. And so there are lots of different types of metrics. There are lead measures, measures that will help show where your success will go. So like for instance, a salesperson might have a lead measure of contacting people. They know that if they contact 100 people, that they will close the sale on five of those people. That's a lead measure. It's a leading indicator of what the lag measure or the success, meaning the number of sales or the amount of revenue that comes into the business. That's the lag measure. That's what happens after the fact. And so it's very important to know what you're looking for. And depending on the person you're talking to will determine whether it's a lead measure or a lag measure.

And so what if you are sitting there and you're thinking, "Okay, I don't really know how to measure this for this person." It's just a tough job to quantify. I mean, really what do they need? Because I submit that everyone needs measurements on your team, everyone. So what does that look like? Years ago, I read a book and it was called How to Measure Anything. And I love the title of the book. It's by a man named Douglas W. Hubbard. And so this is a little excerpt from that book. I love this. He says, "Anything can be measured. If a thing can be observed in any way at all, it lends itself to some type of measurement method. No matter how fuzzy the measurement is, it's still a measurement if it tells you more than you knew before. And those very things, most likely to be seen as an immeasurable are virtually always solved by relatively simple measurement methods."

So if it seems difficult or impossible to measure, get a little more creative. You can think a little harder and you'll be able to fix your something out. And there are lots of ways to measure. Just make sure it's accomplishing the behavior that you actually want. In the book The Truth About Employee Engagement is also previously, the title was Three Signs of a Miserable Job. I love that title, but now it's been retitled Truth About Employee Engagement, also solid title, but that's by a man named Patrick Lencioni, amazing author. He writes leadership fables and I love his books, highly recommended book. I'll put the name of that in the show notes so that you can easily find this book. It's a must read.

In this book, he talks about measurement in a few different ways. He actually, in the book, he talks about somebody who actually works the drive up window at a restaurant, and he thinks well, and then and the employee thinks, "Well, what truly can I measure?" And that will have a big impact on the happiness of customers. In the end, he actually talks about measuring how many smiles the employee gets at a drive up window as a way to measure his success. Once again, find the thing that you need, that you can measure, that you can quantify and be able to have the impact that you want. So that's actually the very next thing.

The third step is decide how your measure will be quantified. So preferably, we want it quantified as a number, a percentage or a dollar amount somewhere where the result is not left up to interpretation by yourself as the leader or by others. The last thing you want is to be resented by your employee or something else. Believe me, it is better to quantify a metric whenever possible. So just really feeling better about something or just giving a general, do you know what, it's good or bad, that's not going to be good enough for measurement for most of our needs. We want to drive behavior and we want people to do something different. And we want them to know when they've accomplished it. We don't want them to have to come to you to say, "Is this good enough?" Not what we want. Okay, so make sure decide how your measure will be quantified and you may have to get a little creative, but it is possible, trust me.

Number four, gather baseline data and set minimum standards, expectations or goals. Okay. Now this is really important, especially if you're beginning measure something that you haven't measured in the past. Often, especially like we gave the example before, sales, super easy. You probably have metrics from sales in the past, but you may not have been in sales tracking how many contacts someone was doing, like we talked about in the example. And so that may be something that you're not exactly sure. You don't know that 100 contacts generally yields five sales for a particular person. So you're going to need to gather that data. So getting the baseline data, super important. And then from there, after you've gathered that baseline data, then you can go to setting a proper goal and then making sure that everyone is clear on what that goal is or what the expectation is, once again, depending on the context of the measure that you're doing, whether it's a one time goal or whether it's a continuous expectation. Once again, this works for all of them, just make sure it's clear and be aware of setting goals in the same way that's always been done. Sometimes just because it's been measured in the past doesn't mean that you continue to measure it.

I've seen organizations and people that will measure everything, every possible thing. And it's very time consuming and labor intensive, and then they don't use the data. Don't gather something, unless you're going to use it. That's a big one. Gather baseline data, set minimum standards, expectations or goals. Number five, set a clear follow up timeframe so that the employee knows when they need to follow up with you. So make sure they know what's expected. Notice the way I said that. I wanted to make sure that a clear timeline where the employee follows up with you, not when they can expect you to follow up with them. Another important thing. This is their goal, their measure. They need to be following up with you. So make sure you set the expectations clearly and make sure it's on a calendar in some way, if possible.

So whether this employee's going to be following up with you by email and reporting them back just to you, reporting it in a staff meeting, whether they are reporting it back in a one-on-one meeting with you, anyway, better make sure that it's clear. So both the clear follow up, the continual follow as well as the end of the ultimate goal, because if it's a long term goal, whether that's a month long goal, a quarterly goal or an annual goal, you want to make sure that there are set check-in points. You don't want people to just wander aimlessly. You want to give them feedback along the way, help them make sure they're on the right track and honestly help to give them encouragement and hope along the way. Sometimes people will have a monthly goal. They'll get one week or two weeks in and think, "Oh my goodness, I'm already so far behind. There's no way I can accomplish my goal now."

Or they'll get to the third week of the month and think, "Oh no, I didn't accomplish as much as I thought I was going to, I'm not going to be able to do this." Help them through it. Help coach them through that. Have the employee report back to you so that they can take ownership of their performance and their results. So the next thing that you need to be able to do here is know when people fail, the reason they're failing. So what is the root cause? So if someone is unwilling to measure themselves, or if they scoff at the measurement, or if they don't accomplish their goals, you got to get to the root cause on this. They may just be incredibly intimidated from a past experience with another employer that use measurements against them to harm them in some way, or to make them scared or to hold something over their head. Make sure that they feel comfortable being able to share those things with you and to be able to accomplish the goal with you and not be scared of measuring their performance.

Sometimes it's because they don't feel like they either have enough training or enough expectation and experience of what needs to happen in their job. So once again, a training opportunity. At times, you will also find that people are just way beyond what they're capable of doing. You'll find that the expectation you have for what a good job looks like in a particular role does not match up with their expectation. And you can often find that they will not be able to ever meet that expectation. And that's okay. At that point, they may not be in the right seat on your team, and they may need to be able to be moved if possible, but they may also just be the wrong person altogether. And that's okay. Measurement is one of the best ways to find out who truly are the performers and who are the right people for your team. So you have an opportunity to help coach those people.

So next one, after you've went through all this process, you've set those clear timeframe for follow up and followed up with people. When they succeed, you need to celebrate successes. When you celebrate successes, it will reinforce the right behavior. I used to work for an amazing organization that has celebration as one of their core values. Amazing, I love, I love it. The extent to which we celebrate depends on a few factors, including how big the goal is, the timeframe, whether how big of a financial benefit it was to the organization, among other considerations that you have to consider, but any way you slice it, you must celebrate in some way. Sometimes a high five is a wonderful celebration. Get people excited just to know that something wonderful is happening.

Recognition in a team meeting is also incredibly appropriate. In a one-on-one meeting or anything that way just being very specific in praise, not just a general, "Oh, you did a great job.", in general, but a very specific, "Look, you crushed your goal that you had set by 15%. Well done.", is so strong, so strong. And then once again, for the bigger goals, doing something special and helping them know what the goal is, even before you set the measurement also incredibly powerful. I love to set measurements with the whole team if possible, whether it's once again a department or an entire organization to set a goal that can help, that will help the entire organization or department. And then when everyone does their part, we celebrate together. Great leaders do this consistently so to be able to reinforce great behaviors.

This celebration, it really reminds me actually of a story of my oldest son. His name is Austin. Last year, Austin was struggling to get his Saturday chores done. We do chores every Saturday. I mean, every day the kids have something they do. And to be able to get work around the house done and learn responsibility. And on Saturday they have extra responsibility to help around the house. And Austin was struggling to get his chores done. I mean, man, he would drag them on and on for most of the day. And in the end, he'd essentially be punishing himself all Saturday long by not being able to go play with his friends because he hadn't got his chores done yet. And so one day, we sat down with Austin and we kind of painted the picture with him, and just talked about how amazing it would be if he was done earlier in the day.

And in fact, how amazing it would be if he was even the very first one done with his chores. We have five children. And so the thought of being the very first one completely done with all of his work so that he could go play with his friends or do anything else he wanted, sounded pretty appealing to him. And so he decided that he was in, he was going to do it. So the very next Saturday, Austin woke up early and before any of his siblings had started working or even really up yet, he started working hard and fast. By the time the rest of the kids came down to eat breakfast and start their own chores, Austin was already completely done. When the other kids found out that he was done, they started saying things like, "No fair. He had easy jobs.", et cetera.

You know, all those little things that little kids say. And in the end it was so fun because we said, "No, Austin is done. He got up early and made it happen." And it was so fun. The look of accomplishment on his face was just priceless. It was amazing. So we sat down with him again, though, this is a big one. We set the expectations. We did everything that way. And then we sat down with him again and we said, "Austin, great job." We gave him a big hug and, and helped him see and connect the dots. "Hey Austin, you don't have to do this just once. You made this incredible accomplishment, it was exactly what you wanted to do. Great job, but you can do this every week, all the time." And it kind of clicked. You can kind of see his eyes like, "Yeah, this is great. I'm going to keep doing this." And the very next Saturday, who was the first one done again with chores? Austin. The Saturday after that, and after that, Austin. I'm telling you, it's been about a year, and he has been the first one done nearly every Saturday in the last year.

It's amazing to see how celebrating with him and helping him understand and reinforcing the right behavior with him has clearly changed what he wants to do and how he does it. He has a clear vision and he makes it happen. So proud of him. So let's review the six steps once again. Believe metrics are important and you got to work at this, helping your team to believe as well. Next one, decide what to measure. Decide what to measure. Number three, decide how your measurement will be quantified. Four, gather baseline data and set minimum standards, expectations or goals. Five, set a clear follow up timeframe and six, celebrate successes. These six steps we put in the show notes as well, so you'll be able to easily find them.

So this week, here's the challenge. Identify one of your team members who is struggling the most right now, then ask yourself, how are they currently being measured? And if you don't know, as their leader, then the odds are that they don't know either. I'll also tell you that you may think that it's clear that they know how they're being measured, but go ahead and ask them. Ask them, "So how are you measured in your job?" And see if they understand and know. If they do, well done as their leader. If not, get to work. This is a perfect chance. So follow the process for setting metrics measurements with this person or improve the process by which they're held accountable currently. So if they currently have metrics, figure out how they're held accountable and the follow up, perhaps that's a place that you can help them.

And then they can very simply begin to see how they're measured and trust the process. Trust the process, and then set it on the calendar. Once again, huge opportunity there. I'd love to hear how it went. Please share, share with us your stories and success stories that you have. Also, this podcast, if you feel like there's someone else who could use it in your life, please share it with them. Next week, we'll be discussing a little bit more about managing people and finding out if you are a micromanager without even realizing it.

Thanks for joining me on this week's episode of the Flavor of Leadership podcast. If you enjoyed what you heard, please share it with a friend. And if you haven't already, subscribe, rate and review the show on your favorite podcast player. If you have any questions, comments, or feedback for us, you can reach me directly at flavorofleadership.com. Thanks for listening.