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Every entrepreneur has grappled with key performance indicators. Whether she’s reporting to a board or trying to pinpoint a problem with a declining service offering, every startup founder has felt the pressure of getting her numbers moving in the right direction.
Tracking KPIs like cost and revenue are hard enough. Explaining shifts in the market or industry without seeming defensive can be difficult at best, and seeing an obvious need for staff with no options in sight can be demoralizing. But what if you’re not actually tracking all the performance indicators that matter?
For your employees, bottom-line KPIs like revenue can be insightful — if nothing else, these numbers can give them a sense of job security. But it’s often hard for your teammates to understand how standard company KPIs apply to — or can be influenced by — the work they do. It’s important to determine which numbers do mean something to your staff.
KPIs That Truly Influence Performance
KPIs are frequently treated as data points that underscore how successful a business is. But businesses are only as successful as their most successful employees. “Numbers are a lot more human than you may think,” explains Danielle Poleski, digital marketing specialist at Klipfolio.
“A company’s culture is extremely important for performance. A culture that supports and motivates all of those in it is destined to do better than one that does not,” she adds. “In this sense, tracking KPIs can be about acknowledging employees’ hard work and securing their feeling of accountability and responsibility.”
Which KPIs make employees feel acknowledged and valuable? That depends partly on their personality and partly on their role.
Customer Satisfaction and Longevity
An oldie but a goodie, customer or client satisfaction scores can not only help employees spot areas for improvement, but they can also highlight how they’ve added value to others’ lives. Anonymous surveys are great for tracking customer satisfaction over time; issuing these after specific interactions enables you to attach the score to a particular employee.
Another way to get this information is through online reviews and ratings. Any submission that mentions a specific employee should be included in his or her portfolio — this is a good source of direct quotes and specific details.
Beyond the subjective nature of customer satisfaction scores (which can shift with bad moods or momentary customer service glitches), an objective metric for customer happiness is longevity. Tracking the lifetime value of account managers’ clients is an easy way to pinpoint opportunities for improvement or specialization. After all, if one rep is particularly adept at keeping clients in a certain vertical happy, why would you send clients from that industry anywhere else?
Employee Satisfaction and Turnover
We’re still wading in pretty subjective territory here, but these two metrics can make a big impact on your employee retention. Turnover, of course, directly corresponds to your retention itself, but openly sharing with your employees — on a quarterly, semiannual, or annual basis — what retention has looked like shows them that you care. If you can tie big changes in employee retention to specific events, like onboarding several difficult clients or taking on big projects requiring overtime, you can work directly with employees to make changes.
But as an employee, (anonymous) satisfaction scores are generally the precursor to changes in retention. While employee satisfaction scores are meant to help employers, employees also watch them closely. If others in their department report high levels of happiness they just don’t feel, they may rethink their fit for a role. If they see that others feel supported, that can reinforce their desire to stay.
When my company tracked employee satisfaction over a two-year span, I noticed something interesting: Satisfaction was cyclical, based on busy seasons for each department. I met with different teammates to talk about ways to distribute work so people felt their workload was more manageable throughout the year. Not only did our employee satisfaction scores increase the next year, but our productivity KPIs also shot up.
Internal Communication and Teamwork Ratings
For teammates who struggle to be, well, team players, these two areas are excellent tools for tracking their progress. They can also reinforce company values and help others feel acknowledged and supported.
To gauge the effectiveness of internal communication, you can use your digital marketing platform to track open rates and click-through rates, just like you do with your external communication. What kinds of subject lines attracted the most attention? Which newsletter articles received the longest time on page? Sharing these numbers with your team can a) help them tailor their future messaging to get the most engagement and b) validate their hard work.
Do you remember rating your college classmates on their participation and contributions to group projects? While it was frustrating, it was also an opportunity to get the credit you deserved. Your employees deserve the same. After big projects wrap up, send anonymous surveys to every stakeholder to find out how successful the process was — not the end result. What was most helpful? Who deserves a special shout-out? Who caused delays or additional work, inadvertently or not? If your team has more than a handful of people, this won’t feel like pointing fingers or removing anonymity.
While you should absolutely share standard KPIs — productivity, revenue, costs — with employees, you should also acknowledge the metrics that are meaningful to them. If you’re paying attention, they should be valuable to you, too.
May 30, 2019 at 03:31PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs