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So, your boss has come to you (well, actually they sent an email), with this crazy idea that you need to set up Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and SMART goals. Is this a passing trend and do you need to act upon it? After a quick internet search, you get the general idea, but the thought of sitting down and writing these out seems a little bit like too much hassle.
Don’t worry, we’re here for you
1 – What’s the big idea.
Actually, it’s a good one. Up until now, either your work has not been measured at all, it has been measured in a subjective manner or your measurement only comes in a negative way (i.e. you get reprimanded/complained-to if something is not done).
Good news, KPI’s are going to help. Oh, and in addition, do you ever get your boss coming to you and complaining in a subjective manner (it’s not what I had in mind… I ‘like’ it this way…) and does that conversation occasionally last a long time, when frankly you could be getting on with more work or doing something else far more productive (even if that involves Facebook)? Well KPIs help with this too.
So, KPI’s are a way of putting at a high level, what you think the top 4 or 5 achievements should be for yourself over the next (normally) quarter. By writing this out – each KPI as one sentence - you are indicating what is important, and your boss can then either agree or not, but once agreed to, both of you should be in agreement as to what is happening in the next quarter/time period.
2 – So, how do you work out what your KPIs should be?
These shouldn’t be plucked from thin air. In fact, you probably have access to a number of documents that can help you. See if you can get your hands on:
- Your job description
- The previous job reviews your boss has given you
- Vision, objectives or goals of your company or department
- Sales goals
- Important emails that your boss sent out about strategy or big projects
A typical KPI could be along the lines of:
- Delivering market-leading consulting services
- Ensuring we have the best team in the industry
- Addressing flaws in our delivery across North American operations
- Making sure we send out invoices and collect payments in a timely manner
3 – Now make them SMART
Next up we need to rationalize your KPIs. I am sure the KPI’s you came up with are awesome at the high level, but now we need to make these ‘real’. How are we going to measure success?
Each KPI needs one or a number of SMART goals.
What is a SMART goal?
SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time based. It is true that not all are in universal agreement, but if the letters stand for something else, it is generally with the same definition.
- Specific – target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress.
- Attainable/Assignable – is it really possible, and who’s doing this.
- Relevant/Realistic – is it relevant for the business and what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources.
- Time-based – specify when the result(s) can be achieved.
Let’s take an example. From our KPI above, “Making sure we send out invoices and collect payments in a timely manner” we need to set at least two SMART goals – one for invoices and one for the collection of payments. Let’s take the first one – invoicing in a timely manner
- Specific – Invoices
- Measurable – send out within 24-hours of order being fulfilled, in 98% of the cases over an average week.
- Attainable/Assignable – Brenda’s doing this, and as right now 70% of invoices are already sent out within 24-hours, so this does seem possible
- Relevant/Realistic – this is relevant for the business, as debtors pay invoices quicker if they receive the invoice closer to the order fulfillment, so if we achieve this realistic goal, we are making a sizable difference to the business
- Time-based – we’ll achieve this measurable goal by the end of this quarter
In summary, if your goal can be measured and you can define a timeline to hitting a desirable measure, then you’re getting the hang of this.
4 – Get them approved
Now you have SMART goals that represent your KPIs. You should show them to your manager, who needs to agree on them. They will be looking for three things:
- are the priorities of your job role addressed by the KPIs
- are they meaningful to the organization (will you be making a difference)
- are they SMART (now you’re an expert in this, it should be a breeze)
5 – Get on and do the work
Once you have agreed your KPIs and SMART goals with your manager, the easy stuff happens. You get on and do your job for the quarter.
You can expect that your manager (if they are any good) will be coming to you during the quarter to see how you’re doing. When they do, then reiterate your SMART goals, reaffirm if they are still achievable (according to the metrics and timeline), and if there is any doubt, speak to your manager about what they can do to help you hit the goal.
These can now be objective discussions. If you are halfway through the time period, and you are half way to your desired goal, then (all things being linear) you’re in a good place.
6 – What happens at the quarter end?
Firstly, you report back to your manager with the results for each SMART goal. If the goal was realistic, you are good at your job, and nothing unforeseen occurred, then the goal should be met and your manager should be very happy (as should you be). If the goal was not met, then you can expect to discuss this to work out where improvements can be made.
At this time, you’ll be also submitting your next goals. Some may be repeated, and some may be new – that all depends on your job role and responsibilities.
What we love about KPI’s and SMART goals is that they are simple, they are relevant for all organizations, are applicable for all level of workers, and they really do work to keep team members happier.
The success of your company is dependent upon the success of your employees. The employee needs three things to be successful, a system to follow (including all the tools required to perform the job), accountability from their supervisor and motivation to keep on going. It’s this last factor – motivation – that can seem so elusive to some company owners.
Let us be clear, it is 100% the job of the company owner to keep the team motivated. Need a little help in this area? This might help:
1. Set expectations
Employees love to know what is expected from them. We prescribe to the well documented idea of having each employee list their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the quarter using SMART goals. Once approved by their manager, the employee now has an objective way to keep their boss happy.
2. Have a daily huddle
Communication is key. If I walked into your office right now, how much communication is going on (verbally, or online)? A simple, 5-minute standup daily huddle keeps the communication flowing and everyone on point. Daily huddles act as a natural caffeine boost to the morning. And if, like so many teams today, you’re not in the same location – do it virtually by web conference. We love Join Me, for the simplicity, but take your pick from the multiple technology options. The key to business owners – don’t miss even one – wherever you are.
3. Surprise the schedule
You’re the boss, so put a surprise in the schedule. Maybe it was a long weekend, so let the team start late the first day back in the office. Maybe it’s the first beach day of the season – so close early at the end of the week. Hump day getting people down – then grab a drink for the team early.
4. Why are you in business?
Your team need to know why you’re in business, beyond the financial reason. Pretty much every company owner I have worked with started their business for the good of something else, for the passion, for the challenge… so share that.
You may be able to also communicate your core values or guiding principles – providing you have them – this will work in the same fashion.
5. Say “thank you” and smile when you say it
Everyone loves to hear “thank you” – so say it often and say it like you mean it. That’s all.
6. Listen. Lots.
When someone is angry, you learn to let them talk it out. It’s the same for team members – sometimes they just need to get it off their chest. So, let them do that.
Remember Men are for Mars, Women are from Venus? Not every comment needs to be acted upon – they are not necessarily complaints. At least half of the population like to talk it out, so let that happen.
7. Frame the environment.
Scientific study example… the landing page of a sofa company was changed in one way only – the background image. The visitors that saw the image of money (specifically pennies) were more inclined to buy on price. The visitors that saw the image of fluffy clouds were more inclined to buy on comfort (costing more). How do you want your employees to act when they are at work? What can you do about the work environment to support this?
8. Organize something out of the ordinary.
There are hundreds of things that you could do to reward an employee – and they don’t need to cost a fortune. Offer flexible hours, send a thank you note, throw a pizza party, offer primo parking, have a flip flop day /casual Friday, a day off pass, rent them a cool car for a weekend/week/month, start a wall of fame, get a car detailer to come to the office, name an office room after them, have a masseuse visit the office, arrange an adult education class of their choosing, give them a magazine subscription, get a catered lunch, offer a gas card (or public transportation passes) to cover a month’s worth of travel expenses, movies on the company, support their kids interest (sports or girl scouts), concert tickets, send flowers to the family home, give them a new office chair, email everyone in the office, lottery tickets, have their home cleaned, bring the dog to the office, arrange for a singing telegram (what’s that gorilla doing in the office?), send fruit or cookies arrange for their own personal assistant, an ice cream party, let them choose the background music for the office for a day/week, offer a taxi/Uber service, thank the entire family…
As a business owner, you want to motivate and keep the best team possible – really, little else is more important. So, act now, act today, and not only will your team appreciate it, the word will get out and you’ll start attracting higher caliber potential employees.