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Measure the right things to boost team effectiveness

The start of the new year is a great time to examine your team’s key metrics. What key performance indicators do you watch? Are they the best things to pay attention to?

Too often, the easy things to measure give us the impression that they’re the right things to measure. Built-in dashboards in software tools and even in complex machinery make it easy to focus on those metrics — so, we do.

And, those easy, built-in systemic measures may not give us the whole story on team or team member effectiveness.

For example, a catalog printing client of mine had very expensive, high-speed offset printing machines on their plant floor. The embedded technology ensured that every imprint — every piece printed that came through a machine — was carefully counted and presented on a built-in high-definition monitor hung next to the operator’s station. These dashboards monitored the number of impressions (at impressive speeds, up to 50,000 impressions per hour), color registration and the like.

If you trusted just those dashboard-presented metrics, most jobs would print fine.

But what if the color mix was slightly off when you were printing a John Deere catalog? What if the automated systems didn’t catch that error? You might end up with thousands of printed pages with the wrong green and yellow! You’d have to trash those and start over. That’s a very expensive mistake.

In those days, the best quality-control element in the system was the human press operator. He or she watched the color of the printed pages closely, every minute – and stopped the machine if the colors weren’t right.

The right things to measure are not always the easy things to measure.

Leaders have a tendency to measure output, for many reasons, including 1) it’s the only thing they’ve ever measured, 2) it’s the only thing they’ve seen their bosses measure, or 3) anything else is too difficult to reliably measure.

Output, profitability, margins, market share, quality — all are desirable results that are worthy of measurement. But they’re not the only things leaders should measure.

#GreatBosses measure team member engagement as well as performance to standards. They measure the degree of trust and respect in daily interactions. They ensure that civility is rampant across the team and with customers (internal and external ones). They demand that team members carry their fair share of the workload, every day. They¬†promptly address any conflicts between team members so issues don’t fester.

Measuring these things requires time and energy of these leaders. They take time to observe interactions. They follow up with internal and external customers to inquire what went well and what did not. They spend one-on-one time with team members regularly to learn how they (the leader) can serve their team member more effectively. Team members feel trusted, honored, respected and valued. Every day.

Find ways to measure these more difficult but vitally important elements of your work environment. Create #WorkplaceInspiration and watch your team thrive.

What do you think? What did your #GreatBosses do to create #WorkplaceInspiration in your team? Share your thoughts about this post/podcast in the comments section below.

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I invite you to add your experiences to two “fast & free” research projects I have underway. The Great Boss Assessment compares your current boss’ behaviors with those of great bosses. The Performance-Values Assessment compares your organization’s culture practices to those of high performing, values-aligned organizations. Results and analysis are available on my research page.

Podcast – Listen to this post now with the player below. Subscribe via RSS or iTunes. The music heard on these podcasts is from one of my songs, “Heartfelt,” copyright ¬© Chris Edmonds Music (ASCAP). I play all instruments on these recordings.

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