This post is the seventh in a series devoted to creating an inspired workforce. I will share additional posts over the coming weeks to support leaders, managers, and supervisors in this effort.
In summary, the first six steps are to 1.) discover the total job role, which consists of both job functions (duties & tasks) and job essence (purpose; single highest priority at work), 2.) articulate the answers to the Four Questions that will establish and reinforce direction, priorities, and standards (i.e., True North) for you and your team, 3.) uncover the higher purpose of the job role, 4.) reveal corporate ideals to employees at all levels of the organization, 5.) connect daily work activities to the higher purpose of the organization/job role and core values, and 6.) operationalize purposeful actions and behaviors for consistency.
Here’s the next step to create an inspired workforce: 7. Evaluate results by tracking, measuring, and then correlating lead indicators (purposeful actions & behaviors) with lag indicators (KPIs).
Supervisors assess team performance through personal observations, conversations with peers and direct-reports, interactions with customers, and by interpreting data points related to productivity, quality, and financial targets. With the best of intentions, this feedback is shared with team members during pre-shift or department meetings with the goal of heightening awareness and improving results. But if that’s where the conversation ends, it is likely to have minimal impact over the long term, and even if KPIs improve, it will be difficult to ascribe these improvements to any one contributing cause.
You can add rigor to your current performance evaluation approach by tracking, measuring, and correlating lead indicators with lag indicators. Once you have identified the purposeful actions and behaviors (lead indicators) that, collectively, when practiced, can influence KPIs (lag indicators), it’s important to track them in a way that is proximate to team members. I suggest mounting a large whiteboard in a highly visible place that everyone must walk past. But whether you use a physical whiteboard in a face-to-face environment, a digital scoring grid using online scoring software, or a simple Excel spreadsheet, here is the process to maximize its impact:
- Track high-priority lag indicators/KPIs. Verify that the KPIs your team chooses to track reflect the priorities of your customers, whether they are internal, external, or other stakeholder groups.
- Capture. Capture feedback to identify purposeful actions and behaviors that will serve as the lead indicators for those high-priority lag indicators/KPIs.
- Record. Record the actions and behaviors together with the names of team members who will be working together to execute these lead indicators.
- Communicate. Share these priorities at least daily, preferably multiple times each day.
- Track lead indicators. Ask team members to report the frequency with which they perform these actions and behaviors. Note: These numbers are intended to be directionally accurate—generally correct, but not precise. The emphasis should be on consistently practicing these actions and behaviors first and tallying them second. And this is not an competition between individuals, which can lead to tampering and cynicism. Total team contributions take priority over the outsized efforts of one or two people.
- Measure. Tabulate the total frequency with which each lead indicator was performed during the designated period.
- Correlate. Assess whether there is a relationship between total team frequency of lead indicators and improvement of lag indicators/KPIs.
- Evaluate. Critique results. Celebrate successes and learn from misses. Be prepared to adapt your approach by incorporating stakeholder feedback. Question assumptions and substitute new lead indicators as needed.
A retailer might identify the lead indicator of selecting an accessory to pair with a clothing item the customer has chosen to try on, as the professional salespeople do at Altar’d State. Or it may design the doors to its dressing rooms to include a writing surface to capture the customer’s first name so that it can be used throughout the experience, as employees do at Lululemon. Or, perhaps, the retailer will offer complimentary product samples, as is done at Nespresso. Each of these actions represents a lead indicator that can influence the KPIs of overall satisfaction, likelihood to recommend, or average basket (spend).
I have a retail client that, after applying this approach, saw 18 percent increases in both overall satisfaction and likelihood to recommend and a 28 percent increase in spending—all of which were attributable to lead indicators like these consistently practiced by its staff. Employees value being a part of a winning team. And when they can see the link between their daily efforts and the team’s results, it inspires their performance.
In the next and final blog post in the series, I’ll share ways that you can involve team members in the attainment of KPIs, create alignment, and spur progress toward the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose. In addition to fostering esprit de corps, this approach can unite employees in a common pursuit of the team’s aspirational goal. I hope you’ll return for that post. In the meantime, feel free to drop questions or feedback in the comments.