PGS has a new look and a new website! We encourage you to visit the site at ProfessionalGrowthSystems.com and take a look around. Let us know what you would like to see that you couldn’t find or what you found interesting or helpful that is already there. We are in the state of “continuous improvement” on the site, so value your feedback!
In the midst of moving forward and covering new ground on our site and in our work, we wanted to take a look back at where we’ve been. Below is a revisit to our Spring 2004 edition of Comm Lines…the Growthlines quarterly predecessor. Though 10 years have gone by, we still stand behind what we wrote here and believe it will have value to you, our 2014 readers! So pour some coffee and enjoy a peek at an earlier piece on metrics and measures.
Focus on Results
The success of any organization is measured on how well it delivers value to its customers. The value equation is owned and calculated by the customer and contains his/her viewpoints on benefits of the product/service, consistency, ease of use, as well as cost. So, how does leadership get everyone focused on these results that matter. Here are a few principles and tools that work:
Survey the customer regularly
Be it through focus groups, Internet-based or telephone surveys, or a review of customer communications, you need to know with certainty how your customer views you relative to the competition. Why do customers choose you? What distinguishes you? What are the needs/wants that arenʼt being met by you or your competitors? What are the ones that your competitors are delivering better than you are? You have to truly understand your customer if you seek to focus your employees on what matters and to grow the company.
Plan for outcomes, not activity
Those of you who use our Vision Navigation® planning system know that we always define quarterly tasks as completions rather than efforts. As leaders, whether at the management or board level, you want your staff informing you of completions. It is much easier to say “I am doing___” than it is “I have completed___” when asked to report on the status of a project. Stating project milestones as completions also helps you make clear what results you want, what form that result should take, what the standard might be for comprehensiveness, accuracy, etc.
Measure if strategies implemented are having the intended effect
Again, in strategic planning your focus should be on what change in current results you are seeking. The change could be addressing an opportunity to grow (e.g. expand into new market) or an internal problem (e.g. improve customer service). Behind each change chosen is a theory as to what will bring about the change you want, hence a strategic project is born. We call that theory a strategy. It is a statement of your belief that if you make certain improvements or competitive moves, you will change the results (e.g. a new profit sharing program will improve customer service, or mailers and deep discounts will get you into a new market). For each such project, you should design a measure to show whether your strategy or theory is working. We call such a measure a metric. We introduced metrics to our planning after working with several clients who knew they were completing their projects successfully, but did not know if the projects were working (i.e. having intended impact). For leaders, both at management and board levels, success comes from strengthening what you know works and getting off what you know does not. But you have to truly know in order to do this.
Maintain Performance Statistics on Processes, and People Too
Often evaluations of both people and departments are based on subjective measures, e.g. level of commitment, ability to work independently, willingness too take responsibility, rather than real performance statistics. If you canʼt define a statistic for a position, then the product that position is supposed to produce is not clear. If the product is not clear, the results will likely not add real value. Give employees real, measurable targets and standards. Measure the results and reward them according to the results produced. The same holds true for the processes within the organization that flow across positions and departments. You need to know the performance of that process defined in quantity, time, accuracy, or defects. The results the customer wants are a direct result of the quality of the processes that produce them. As many of you have heard us say time and again, “you will only get what your systems (processes) deliver”.
Now that you have the data on performance, review it often. Leaders that frequently (i.e. at least monthly) hold others accountable for results have success in raising performance. Donʼt wait for the annual evaluation. Your competition is moving faster than that. You need continuously improving results now. Leaders shy away from accountability, because they donʼt like confronting bad performance, but employees already know their performance. They just donʼt know whether you know. Employees want to know where they stand and respect leadership that demands results and holds everyone consistently to a high standard.
Promote Continuous Improvement
The potential of your people and your processes are limitless. Both should be improving over time, all the time. Great organizations create cultures in which improvement is stressed, fostered through training and rewarded. Pushing the envelope to insist on improvement is draining, unpopular, sometimes unpleasant, but when all is said and done, both people and organizations that arenʼt growing, arenʼt happy. Your favorite and best teachers were those that demanded a lot from you. Behind that demand was a belief that you could do it, and it is that expectation that spurred you to get there.
Let everyone in the system know the results you are getting. If successful, celebrate and reward. If not, ask them to help you find the solutions. Either way, communicate, communicate, communicate. These principles work at all levels in an organization and in organizations of all types. Whether you are in the board room, executive suite or at the department level, check yourself against these principles and strengthen what you need to.
Take inventory of how well you are doing in delivering value to customers. Are you missing any of the elements detailed in the newsletter? If so and you would like help filling in those blanks, we would love to hear from you. Drop us an e-mail. .