Get Buy-in for KPI Targets

by Stacey Barr

Setting and achieving performance targets for KPIs is about the heart, not just the head.

Set targets for the heart and the head

What’s your target achieving track record? Do you reach most of your KPI targets within their set timeframes, or do you find yourself throwing up all kinds of rationalisations and reasons as to why the majority of your targets were not met?

It might be because your target setting process is a little too much about numbers and not nearly enough about emotion, about how people feel about the various aspects of target setting, pursuing and achieving.

Targets must speak to the heart, not just the head.

Targets that are an almost mathematical arrangement of “performance measure + target value + timeframe” speak loudly and clearly to the head. They say nothing to the heart. What makes a target speak to the heart is rich and sensual language that tells vivid and compelling stories of the future as if the target had already been achieved.

Targets must be believed to be seen.

It’s funny, but beliefs are often more real to people than facts. It takes some very strong experiences and immersion in facts to shift our long-held beliefs. It is our beliefs and not data that drive our choices and behaviours. What we believe about the achievability of a target will more drive how we feel about pursuing it than the fact that it is written in our business plan.

Targets must be owned to be pursued.

People must see themselves in the endeavours they pursue, or they won’t put themselves into those endeavours. Targets imposed from on-high, set without the involvement of those that will pursue them, are targets doomed to fail. Yes, it is important for people to work for the good of the organisation, but this can only happen if the organisation can work for the good of the people.

Make space for emotion in your goals.

Use the formula “performance measure + target value + timeframe + vivid sensory-rich story” to express targets, getting everyone involved in building this expression. Practice using words that describe what you see, hear, feel – what your senses notice and detect. Read some poetry or listen to the words of songs on the radio. You’ll start noticing how easily this language invokes images and sensations in your mind.

If you don’t make space for emotion in your target setting, then you might be aiming too high – too high relative to the emotional fuel everyone has available to reach that target. Positive emotions make commitment possible, and commitment is a fuel that offers very high mileage.

To get buy-in for performance targets for KPIs, make it about the heart and not just the head.
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These tips about setting targets for the heart as well as the head are a summary from the white paper “Buy-In For KPI Targets”. Download the full white paper “Buy-In For KPI Targets” here.

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  1. Tommaso says:

    I agree with your view but could you provide some examples of “performance measure + target value + timeframe + VIVID SENSORY-RICH STORY”?

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