As a business leader you know how to work effectively.
You can get things done. Your work moves things forward which results in revenue and (hopefully) growth.
As you grow your team your impact starts to increase exponentially. You’re working through others now!
And eventually you start asking the million dollar question…
How can I get my team to work as effectively as I do?
They just don’t seem to have the same motivation. There’s no sense of urgency. They’re just not as driven.
Why do they seem to have only a fraction of the output that I did doing their job?
Is this just how it goes growing your team?
Yes and no…
Yes, growing an effective team is a challenging problem
And there are a few common approaches as the first go-to answer for this, including…
- Strengthening SOPs. Maybe they just don’t know how to do it exactly like I do.
- Adding in time-tracking and task reporting to keep a watchful eye on team activities.
- Yelling. Hassling. Guilting. Pleading. etc.
Personally, I don’t recommend any of these (especially #3).
How to measure what matters to shift your team’s performance
It’s time to find different measurements to help lead your team to effectivity (the word I use instead of productivity 90% of the time).
Here’s the problem…
Most of the time leaders are focused on outputs. In operations land I’d call these lagging indicators. To illustrate, here’s an example from an agency I’ve worked with.
The task of the team was to create a certain business result through marketing. When the result isn’t achieved on time, the clients are unhappy and the agency loses. When they do create the result on time, the client wins, the agency wins. And because happy clients create happy referrals, creating the marketing result is pretty important!
But it’s also the lagging indicator.
In other words, when the result happens, it’s too late. It was either good or bad, but either way it’s done and can’t be changed.
And that’s the problem. Too many leaders are focused on the lagging indicator. And they try to change it by adding in more SOPs, asking for an account of efforts, or hassling the team into working extra to hopefully create a result later.
What to measure instead…
From the leaders chair the shift is a simple but powerful one: find out what activities create a positive result and measure those instead. Those are the leading indicators. They happen before the result (and often cause it).
Back to the agency example – they’re charged with creating a positive business result through marketing…
We discovered that a few key activities can almost guarantee a positive business result.
- Number of ads tested over time (not too few, not too many. Have to hit the sweet spot for the algorithm).
- Variety of creative ideas tested (avoid a bunch of “different color button” style tests)
- Amount of impressions (need to get real data to make a decision).
To simplify this a bit, if I were a fitness trainer helping a client loose weight I’d be looking at calories in and exercise volume (two things my client can control as leading indicators). The number on the scale would come later (lagging indicator).
How to turn this into leadership…
Clarifying the leading indicators is half the battle. You’ve not created a clear road map for how to succeed. That clarity will translate into increased output in your team, who no longer have to decide what to focus on or what would make you happy.
As a manager working with an individual team member, you now have a clear yard stick to look at together to measure input success. Your coaching and guidance is around getting inputs done well.
Results will follow.
Take a look at what KPIs you’ve given your team and ask yourself, are they leading or lagging indicators? Ideally there will be a healthy mix, but most often I find only lagging indicators.