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One of our clients recently had a team with low response times, poor communication, and high turnover. They asked us to intervene.

As soon as we were introduced to the under-performing team, we could see the problem – they weren’t measuring their productivity and ultimately their success. In a prior post, Chris talked about the importance of writing down measurable, strategic goals. But, how? Well, you might be surprised.

It can be hard to know how well you’re performing at work, both in the short and long term. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and hard metrics are a big part of it, sure – but there are also lots of intangibles that can be tough to gauge. What’s the best way to see if you’re moving your career forward, or you are leading your team in the right direction? How do you know if you are actually helping the company move in the right direction? In other words: What kind of impact are you making with customers, the community, and the industry? What if you didn’t have so many distractions? Would you be more productive and ultimately more successful?

Challenge

Defining what success is in the first place can be more difficult than actually measuring it.

For most businesses, the number one measure of success is profit, closely followed by growth and other quantifiable numbers or metrics. Some businesses factor in healthy cultures, values, and how long employees stay at the company.

Yet, effective leaders know the importance of “soft KPIs” and even better leaders find a way to measure them – for themselves and for the people that they manage

Strong leaders help themselves and their staff be successful by keeping them focused. According to psychologists, the number one quality that will help you be more successful at work is being better at managing and minimizing distractions. A recent study found that it takes 64 seconds for someone to reorient him or herself to get back to work after checking one email. Imagine the time wasted during an 8-hr work day when you manage texts, phone calls, Slack messages, and check your TikTok!

Psychological Principle

To be successful at work and to help your staff be most productive you must create a culture of what I call “dodging the distractions.” Working in a time where technology is at our fingertips and we can communicate with anyone at any time of the day or night, distractions are everywhere. Attention, it appears, seems to be the ultimate scarce resource in today’s economy. And if we don’t address it now, it will only get worse. So, if you want to start measuring one thing – start with writing down some goals regarding how to reduce distractions that are preventing you from getting your work done. That in itself will be a step in the right direction towards success.

Mindset Shift

  • View success as a process – Define success as short-term wins, like reaching daily, weekly and monthly goals. Viewing success as a process can help you focus on the small accomplishments that lead to a major achievement.
  • View failures and setbacks as learning opportunities – No leader is perfect. Strong leaders admit it and keep going.
  • View success as reducing distractions – what is getting in the way of achieving your goals? What interference needs to be minimized? What processes do you have set in place to help your staff stay focused?

Performance Shift

Consider the following as ways to measure your team’s success. Consider writing down some goals around these ideas:

  • Development hours or dollars invested in your team – Putting time and money into your people is the best investment you can make.
  • Retention rates – Growing and keeping your top talent is key. You may want to track a KPI around turnover or retention on your team. Promotions from your team may be another good metric.
  • Employee satisfaction metrics  – Some companies use surveys. If you can have access to your team’s data, take a look. If not, you may need to build those relationships and find out what the leading indicators are to happiness on your team and measure that instead.
  • Employee engagement metrics – Talk to your team members about the tasks they enjoy and the ones they do not. Try to measure doing more of the things they value or find most engaging.
  • 1:1’s completed with team members – Frequent touch points and real-time feedback can be invaluable. Spending time with your direct reports, even in informal settings like lunch or coffee, can be an important way to build trust and deepen relationships. Taking time to get to know your team members as people (what matters to them, what their goals are) will go a long way in your ability to lead your team. It is also a good idea to attend some team meetings, but don’t show up as a surprise!
  • Team health gauge – This is a simple “gut-check” metric we use to gauge whether any team members are overloaded or feeling full. It helps leaders know who may have the bandwidth for additional work and who may need help (or when we may need to hire additional resources to share the workload.)

Consider using some of the following to measure your own success. Consider writing down some goals around these ideas:

  • Feedback Fridays – Consider allowing your team members to give you feedback on your leadership weekly. Ask them, “How am I doing? What do you need from me?”
  • Weekly self-reflection – One key to leadership effectiveness is taking time to reflect on your own performance on a regular basis. Spend time each week thinking and possibly journaling about what you are doing well, what you are learning, and what you need to improve as a leader.
  • Weekly Future Thinking Session – In addition to investing in learning time for your team, you need to focus on raising your own effectiveness by continuing your own learning. Part of being a good leader involves strategic thinking and vision-casting, which doesn’t happen in a bolt of inspiration; it takes time to think and cultivate ideas for the future. It involves reading!
  • Specific Performance Metrics measuring progress on particular leadership or job skills you are improving – You should have a Strategic Plan in which you identify specific skills to improve, whether those are leadership or job performance skills. You can track your progress on developing those specific skills or implementing new habits as KPIs.

You don’t need to track all of these things; it’s too many. Pick one soft skill that you think you could measure and go from there. Your list might not include any of these examples, but hopefully, this list prompts your thinking on the kind of measures to help you improve the “softer” side of your role as a leader. Measuring leadership is difficult so whatever leadership metrics you use it will help you become a better team leader, so make sure that you start and adjust as necessary. If anything, start minimizing the distractions.

We show managers and leaders how to be their most successful selves at work. If you want to learn more and explore better ways to be productive, reach out to Chris!

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