We know what you care about by watching what you celebrate.
Parents: Your kids learn what matters by when you cheer the loudest. So, don’t just cheer when your son gets a good score on his algebra test. Cheer when he skips video games to study. Celebrate the activity that lead to a result.
We can equip every one around us to celebrate every day by clarifying what we measure and how everybody contributes.
Leaders consistently look for ways to celebrate alignment to values. Ask about stories related to your values. Publicly praise them and privately thank them. People pay attention to what the leader celebrates.
The Trouble with Measuring
People get nervous about metric-driven leadership because it can feel competitive (creating or reinforcing silo’s) or like ‘big brother’ is looking over their shoulder. That fear decreases as people see the leader using measurement as an excuse to celebrate rather than a means to correct. Here’s two ways to get everybody’s attention in the same direction:
Scoreboard: A public visual showing if the team is winning. Every team needs a unifying indicator if we are on tract. Most often, this is a number.
Lead Measures: Individual visuals revealing how you are contributing. Every team member should know what they can do this week to move the scoreboard. A lead measure isn’t part of the scoreboard, it’s what we do to contribute to winning.
Back to the algebra test: The score is on the test. The scoreboard is somewhere public, like on the fridge. The lead measure is the number of minutes spent studying, or nights going to bed on time, or days without watching television. It’s something you can do today that leads to a better score tomorrow.
Movement through Measurement
When you go to work tomorrow, do you know what it means for your team to win? Do you know how you contribute? Most people don’t. The result is poor morale, high turnover, and people working to protect themselves rather than working a collective goal.
You reveal what matters by what you measure. So, measure what matters. Decide what to measure, and then celebrate it.
Create a scoreboard
At the beginning of a meeting, ask people what number best reveals if you are accomplishing your mission. Another way to ask this could be, “three years from now, what would be an indicator that we are on track?” If you have a dashboard or series of metrics, you might pass it out and ask them to circle the number they think matters most. The most important number might not be on your dashboard.
Try it out with your leadership team for a few weeks. Call me and let’s talk about it. Then, find a simple way to celebrate it publicly all the time.
Identify lead measures
After the scoreboard is clear, invite people to identify what they do that helps move the needle. You probably need to help them and you probably won’t get it right the first time. That’s okay; if they help discover it they’ll more likely to own it.
A lead measure is never everything you do, and it changes from team to team (sometimes from role to role). It’s something they can do this week, that contributes to what your organization cares about most. Here’s a good sign you have the right one: if you would be okay with people slacking on other tasks because they’re crushing it at this task.
Create a public scoreboard. Help people identify lead measures. And then celebrate them. Everyone will see you care about it by the way you champion it.