7 Questions to Reflect on Your KPI Approach

by Stacey Barr |

If you never take the time to reflect on your KPI approach, you’ll never make the time to improve it. And it does need to improve, doesn’t it?

Take the time to reflect on your KPI struggles. Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/portfolio/aoosthuizen

When we’re busy, it’s hard to see that our KPI struggles don’t have to continue. Here are 7 questions to reflect on how you can make your KPI approach easier:

1. Who just isn’t ‘getting it’?

Many people have the wrong idea about performance measurement. They believe it’s a judgement tool, and consequently feel threatened by it and hate it. Performance improvement cannot thrive in a judgment-based performance culture.

ACTION: Relentlessly reposition the purpose of performance measurement as a tool in the hand, not a rod for the back.

2. Are any important goals still not meaningfully measured?

If you have a goal that is too hard to measure, you don’t have a real goal. Measurement simply quantifies the evidence of your goal. If you can’t measure a goal, you haven’t really thought about how you’ll know if it’s achieved.

ACTION: First define the observable evidence of your goal when it’s achieved, before you try to choose a measure.

3. Which KPIs do you keep ignoring or deferring?

One symptom of performance measures or KPIs that aren’t helpful is that you simply ignore them, or keep putting off implementing them or using them. Don’t keep wasting time, energy and attention on unhelpful measures.

ACTION: Focus on measures that are direct evidence of the goals that you know you should, can and will strive to achieve.

4. Where isn’t there enough buy-in for your KPIs?

Buy-in has to be given, and it cannot be taken. So mandating that people get involved in measuring performance is a futile approach. What works is to make performance measurement something they decide for themselves that they want to do.

ACTION: Instead of pushing people to adopt measurement, invite them to see how you do it well (like with a Measure Gallery).

5. What’s taking more time than you want to give?

Do you find that people spend more time agreeing on which KPIs to use than they do identifying them in the first place? Or they spend more time collecting data for KPIs than making performance improvements with KPIs? Or they spend more time producing performance monitoring reports than diagnostic analytics to identify causes? This is all an unnecessary waste of time.

ACTION: If you don’t have a deliberate performance measurement methodology, then you will most certainly be wasting far more time than it takes to do measurement properly.

6. Which KPIs did you get real improvements in?

Can you answer this question definitively, without hesitation or doubt? If you can’t then it’s likely you’re relying on limited comparisons that can be interpreted in different ways, thereby telling you almost nothing!

ACTION: Put your KPIs into XmR charts to reveal exactly what they were doing, and what kind of action they need from you.

7. How much do people value your performance reports?

Whether they are printed or digital, performance reports should almost provide the agenda for performance monitoring meetings. If they are bare used or even ignored, they likely are not designed with the right answers to the right questions.

ACTION: Strip out the clutter from your performance reports by removing all the content that does not answer the questions ‘why, why and now what?’

How much time do you spend debating KPI relevance versus deciding on performance improvements?

When people endlessly debate the integrity, relevance or details of their KPIs, it’s a strong symptom of not having engaged deeply enough in the process for choosing or designing those KPIs. We can’t outsource KPI selection.

ACTION: If you’re not using these 5 steps of measure design, with the team that should own the measures, then you are not going to produce KPIs that drive improvement.

If you never take the time to reflect on your KPI struggles, you’ll never make the time to end them.
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