Help People Value KPIs by Linking to What They Valueby Stacey Barr
For our colleagues, leaders and entire organisations to value KPIs, measuring performance must link to what they value most.
Probably one of the biggest reasons that measuring performance is done so poorly in so many organisations is that its true value isn’t appreciated. You and I know why KPIs and performance measures matter. But sometimes, try as we might to explain it to them, our colleagues just don’t get it. So they continue with the usual bad KPI habits, take shortcuts, or avoid it altogether.
We know they can get more out of measuring performance. If only they’d see it the way we do… if only they’d give it a chance.
Well that’s not going to just happen. And the more we try to educate them, cajole them, involve them, challenge them, and force them, the more they’ll push back. We need the equivalent of the Aikido approaches, where we redirect our opponent’s energy instead of trying to stop them.
The Aikido effect of worldviews and values.
People’s energy comes from many places, but one is from their worldview and values. In particular, how they express themselves through their values. In the 1980s, Brian Hall and Benjamin Tonna created an inventory of human values, and Paul Chippendale evolved it into what is known today as the AVI.
This model of values and worldviews is our Aikido to redirect the opposing energy people put into resisting our KPI approaches. In truth, we’re talking about change, not KPIs. And making change happen requires more than education, cajoling, inclusion, challenge and force. As Paul Chippendale says:
“The key to change is firstly gaining real rapport with people. For genuine rapport to exist, people must really know that you are able to see the world through their eyes and thus really understand why their values are important to them. Change = Rapport + Information.”
How we engage in dialogue with people about KPIs and measuring performance is what matters first.
There are 3 steps to position KPIs within the context of someone’s values. Get prepared by downloading and looking over the AVI framework of values and worldviews, here. Then follow each step below, to discover ways to help your colleagues value KPIs by linking to what they value most.
Step 1: What are their priority values and dominant worldview?
Think about the person or the group. What is the likely dominant worldview? What priority values are suggested by their words, decisions, choices, actions? Start by looking through the inventory of 125 values, and highlight the three to five most likely values held by the person or group.
- Imagine a leader who is very financial focused, makes decisions mostly to stay on budget, and talks a lot about the company as a family, and is firm but fair on company policy. This leader may have the values of Financial Security, Family/Belonging and Control/Order/Discipline, and hold a Family/Social worldview.
- Imagine a supervisor who loves their personal performance review, always gets a bonus, is competitive with other supervisors, strives to work her way to the top, and is passionate about getting the most productivity out of her team. This supervisor may have the values of Achievement, Competition, Loyalty, and Management, and hold an Organizational worldview.
- Imagine an operational team that is renowned for its quality of work, making a difference for its customers, and often leads the way with implementing improvement projects. This team may have the values of Workmanship/Craft/Art, Service/Vocation, and Decision/Initiation, and hold a Self Actualization/Service worldview.
No value is right or wrong, better or worse. To really succeed with this Aikido is to authentically respect and accept the different values each person has. Rapport won’t happen without this. If we do struggle to understand other worldviews and values, we can take a closer look at what ours might be. It’s harder for those of us with worldviews toward the left of the spectrum to appreciate worldviews to the right.
Step 2: How might measuring performance and KPIs support their values?
We’re happy when what we feel, think, say and do are all aligned to our highest priority values. If we fail to understand first what is most important to people, how can we position the value of measuring performance in a way they can value it?
The first question we need to answer for people is why they should give time and attention to KPIs. And the why will be dependent on what they value. Here are some examples of how KPIs might support a range of different values:
- Achievement: KPIs can demonstrate how much improvement was achieved, especially when they are displayed in XmR charts that quantify the improvement.
- Competition: This one is risky, because good performance measurement encourages collaboration, not competition. The best competition is now compared with the past, rather than comparing teams or individuals.
- Control/Order/Discipline: KPIs can help identify when performance of processes gets out of control, or moves out of
- Decision/Initiation: When a team uses KPIs to prioritise the next best improvement project, it’s easier for leaders to give them the autonomy because they can be confident they’re being results-oriented and not wasting time or money.
- Family/Belonging: Use KPIs to help teams see how they belong and contribute to the organisation (like a Results Map lays the foundation for).
- Financial Security: Choose KPIs to measure both financial security (like budget performance) but also the drivers that help diagnose and increase financial security (drivers like rework or productivity).
- Service/Vocation: Focusing KPIs on measuring customer feedback, and measuring the internal results that most impact on what customers care most about.
- Workmanship/Craft/Art: KPIs can measure the quality of what is created, and provide a sense of satisfaction that the work is making a difference, and give clues about making it even better.
Step 3: Where can you start a dialogue to link KPIs to their values?
When we want to talk with people about KPIs, we mustn’t start by talking about KPIs.
We need to check in with them to see if our guess about what they value really is important to them. Then find out how happy they are right now with how that’s working for them. And where there is not enough happiness, we explore what’s holding them back.
Through this kind of dialogue, we can more easily see a possible way that measuring might help them express their values more fully. The dialogue needs to have a few qualities, then:
- We invite, rather than propose.
- We ask and listen, rather than tell.
- We help, rather than coerce.
- We learn, rather than teach.
- We make it about their struggles, rather than our solution.
- We put our attention on reaching their goals, rather than on selling KPIs.
And we let it go, if the time just isn’t right.
I personally take the AVI values inventory every 5 to 10 years, to be clear about what really matters most to me. My current worldview is “Collaborative Project” and my top values include Minessence, Transformative Communication, Presence/Being, Pioneerism/Progress, Congruence, and Wonder/Curiosity/Nature.
Hall, B., Harari, O., Ledig, B. & Tondow, M. 1986, Manual for the Hall-Tonna Inventory of Values, Paulist Press, New Jersey.
Henderson, Michael, 2003, Finding True North: Discover your values, enrich your life, Harper Business.
Henderson, Michael, 2014, Above the Line: How to Create a Company Culture that Engages Employees, Delights Customers and Delivers Results, Wiley.
Linking KPIs to values and worldviews is our Aikido to redirect the opposing energy people put into resisting our KPI approaches.
Who do you wish would value measuring performance and KPIs? Think about them. Ponder which values they prioritise. Explore ways that KPIs might help them live those values more fully. And then go chat with them to find out what matters and how KPIs might help them.
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