Before a team heads into a game, a good coach defines priorities. These are activities that can be controlled by the players, are measurable, and are strong predictors of ultimate success. In football, these might be to establish the running game, double-team the opponent’s star receiver, and avoid turnovers. As the game progresses, the coaching staff assesses these objectives and makes adjustments to the strategy to keep the team on track and in a position to win the game.
The same holds true for the goals you set for your business. Whether your goals address revenue, customer satisfaction, or increased productivity, you significantly increase your chances of achieving the goal if you effectively communicate the progress to your team. Your team will be more engaged, more accountable, and have a higher sense of purpose if they know where they are winning and where they are losing.
In his book “The Three Signs of a Miserable Job,” Patrick Lencioni describes three reasons individuals disengage from their work:
- Anonymity – they feel their leaders don’t know or care what they are doing.
- Irrelevance – they don’t understand how their job makes a difference.
- Measurement – they cannot measure or assess for themselves the contribution they are making.
People are accountable, inspired, and proactive when they can see the correlation of their work to the goals of the organization. Think about the impact of companies like FitBit and Garmin on people’s health and the fitness industry. These devices are in high demand because they provide immediate feedback on fitness goals and empower the user to control their own health. They tell the user the score.
If a person’s goal is to walk 9,000 steps per day and they see at the end of the day that they have walked only 8,000, they can take immediate positive action by completing the remaining steps. They take this action because they get immediate feedback about their plan. With a good plan, they maintain the discipline of sticking to it because they know it will lead to achievement of a bigger goal. They know the score and they are empowered to take the necessary action to get the results. Similarly, employees who know their score and can measure their own progress will be more likely to react the same way. But only if they know where they are, if they know the score.
An effective scorecard should immediately answer two fundamental questions:
- Are we on, ahead of, or behind plan?
- Are we improving?
The most important thing is that the scorecard includes leading indicators that are fully within your team members’ control. A leading indicator for a football team may be establishing the running game. For the person wanting to lose weight, it may be steps per day. The scorecard should also include lagging indicators. That might be the score, number of running plays, and average yards per carry for the football team. For the person wanting to improve their health, it might be their weight or average heart rate.
How can you apply this to your team? These steps can help you design a system that will yield immediate success:
- Ask your team how they know whether they had a good day or a bad day. Use their answers to identify leading and lagging indicators.
- Ask your team to identify the three to five activities they must do each day to make major progress towards their goal. Determine which activities are within their control and predict success in achieving the goal (leading indicators), and which are lagging indicators, or point-in-time measurements that are influenced by the leading indicators.
- Limit the number of indicators on your scorecard to five (ideally, it should be only three).
- Make your scorecard personal, so your team has a sense of pride and ownership. With a team scorecard, each member can see how their individual performance impacts the team’s progress.
- Review and provide feedback. Make review of the scorecards part of your meeting rhythm (if you don’t have a meeting rhythm, establish one today). Discuss wins and losses. Look at whether you’re on track for the day, week, month, or quarter. Provide positive feedback in the meeting and constructive feedback in one-on-one meetings.
In our workshop Building Leadership Momentum Through Leadership Rhythm, we help participants design a scorecard for their organization and teams. To meet your business goals, your scorecard will track of your progress toward success.
Your company’s 2016 game started 19 days ago, and we have 346 days left to go. I know you’ve had a game plan since day one; if you want to ensure a win, make sure you and your team know the score.