Giving leaders an alternative perspective on KPIs 

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I love coaching leaders. But there’s something incredibly fulfilling about coaching new leaders. 

It was my second session with Luca and to kick things off I asked him how he wanted to drive things and whether there was anything specific he wanted to focus on in the hour we had together. 

Luca was recently promoted into his first leadership role, and he shared that he was struggling to get his head around setting KPIs and OKRs for his four individual team members and for the team as a whole. He joked that there were already too many acronyms thrown around at his workplace and that he wasn’t sure he could handle dealing with two more! 

All jokes aside, many organisations use both KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) in conjunction to create a well-rounded performance management framework.  

For the most part KPIs are more retrospective and focused on measuring and improving current performance, while OKRs are more forward-looking and designed to inspire teams to strive for ambitious and impactful goals. 

Whilst KPIs and OKRs are both performance management tools used to measure progress and achieve goals, I wanted to ensure that Luca appreciated the often-subtle differences in their approach and focus. 

For example, KPIs can cover a wide range of metrics and performance indicators, including employee productivity, customer satisfaction, and financial performance, while OKRs are typically more limited in number and have a narrower focus. An individual or a team usually only sets a few Objectives, with a few associated Key Results, making them more concise and easier to track. 

KPIs can be set for different time frames, ranging from short-term to long-term, and are used to track ongoing performance, while OKRs are designed to be more ambitious and are typically established quarterly, to maintain focus and adapt to changing priorities, encouraging teams to aim for significant progress and breakthroughs rather than maintaining the status quo. 

At the end of the session, Luca said that he definitely felt a lot more comfortable with what was expected of him, but that he still wanted to do a bit more research himself before he sat down with his team members. 

The next morning, I received an email from Luca. 

“Hey Paul! I was doing some more digging around last night after our session and came across this post on LinkedIn. Thought you might like this alternative look into the idea of KPIs. Thanks again for yesterday! See you soon!” 

When I opened the attachment, I found this image. 

Whoever posted this was on to something. I loved it! 

I sent a quick email back to Luca thanking him for the inspiration that I immediately knew would form the basis for this piece. 

In many workshops I often share that leaders have three core responsibilities: to provide direction, protection, and order. In other words, as a leader you are expected to clarify roles and offer a vision (direction); make sure that the team / organisation is not vulnerable and can survive external threat (protection); and maintain stability (order). 

From now on I think I might mix it up a bit and propose four different (but just as important) responsibilities: To keep people informed, interested, involved, and inspired. 

Keep People Informed 

Keeping people informed is crucial for maintaining transparency, promoting trust, and fostering a collaborative and engaged work environment. 

For any leader, regular communication is key. Consistent updates (eg on company initiatives or changes in organisational strategy) keep team members dialled in and allow them to better understand their role within the broader context thereby creating more of a sense of belonging. 

It’s also important to be transparent about challenges and setbacks the team might be facing. This enables team members to provide input and support in finding solutions. 

Whenever possible, clearly communicate expectations, goals, and performance standards from the outset. Clarity on what is expected helps team members stay focused and aligned. At the same time, ensure you provide regular feedback on individual and team performance which naturally helps team members understand how they can improve and contributes to their professional development. 

And finally, be approachable and accessible. Let your team know that you are available to address their questions or concerns whenever needed. 

Keep People Interested 

Keeping people interested and engaged is vital for maintaining productivity, creativity, and overall job satisfaction. 

As a leader, how are you providing your team members with purpose and meaning right now? Are you communicating the broader purpose of the team’s work and how it contributes to the organisation’s overall mission and goals?  

When your team members understand the significance of their contributions, they are more likely to stay engaged and motivated. 

Growth opportunities and ongoing professional development are key to keeping your people interested. If possible, create a culture of continuous learning and development. Provide opportunities for up-skilling, training, coaching, or mentorship to help team members enhance their abilities and progress in their careers. 

Recognition is also important. Acknowledge and appreciate your team members’ efforts and achievements. This could simply be in the form of verbal praise, small rewards, or extra time off. 

Above all, encourage innovation. Creating an environment that supports innovative thinking and empowers people to make decisions and take ownership of their projects can boost motivation and lead to new ideas and solutions. 

Keep People Involved 

Keeping people involved means fostering a sense of ownership, commitment, and collaboration within the team. One way to achieve this is to give people meaningful tasks and projects that align with their skills and interests. Delegating responsibility shows trust in their abilities and encourages active involvement. 

Seeking input from team members and involving them in the decision-making process can also empower them and make them feel valued as contributors to the team’s success. Promoting knowledge sharing within the team can also encourage people to share their expertise, experiences, and best practices with each other. 

Another tactic to keep people involved is to encourage cross-functional collaboration by organising joint projects or allowing team members to spend time in other teams or departments. This involvement broadens their understanding of the business and promotes teamwork, while also encouraging team members to support and help each other promoting more active involvement in each other’s successes. 

Keep People Inspired 

Keeping people inspired is essential for fostering enthusiasm, creativity, and a sense of purpose to motivate and empower team members to excel and achieve their full potential. 

It is often said that ‘inspiration is contagious’ and when your team members are genuinely inspired, they become catalysts for inspiring others around them. 

What type of culture are you fostering as a leader today? If you can create a positive and inclusive work environment where your team members feel valued, supported, and respected, you will also encourage commitment, and inspiration. 

Similarly, promoting work-life balance by respecting personal time and promoting practices that support well-being will undoubtedly help team members maintain their enthusiasm and energy levels. 

As a leader, are you a role model for passion, dedication, and a positive attitude? Remember, your own enthusiasm and commitment will inspire your team members to adopt a similar mindset. When sharing the company strategy, are you communicating a compelling and inspiring vision for the team’s future by painting a clear picture of the team’s purpose, goals, and the positive impact they can make? 

And finally, remember to share success stories – not just within the team but across the broader organisation. Inspiring stories of overcoming challenges will certainly motivate others to strive for greatness. 

While KPIs are widely used to measure performance, it’s important to appreciate that they also have limitations.  

Focusing purely on KPIs may lead to a narrow perspective on team performance and neglect other crucial aspects of team dynamics, collaboration, and individual growth.  

Remember,  hellomonday  can provide support to every leader, reinforcing habits through curated learning and impactful coaching, helping leaders explore alternative ways to keep individuals informed, interested, involved, and inspired. 

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