This blog is third in the series “Leading for Success.” Also see How to Motivate Your Team and How to Build Team Chemistry.

Understanding how we’re going to be measured and how success in one’s job or department will be defined is important to everyone. And yet, selecting those critical measurements to drive performance and decision making can be tougher than one might think. How many times have each of us been part of an organization that decided to create a series of metrics, only to find out that the behavior we created wasn’t what we were looking for?

There are several criteria that will help to ensure success when measuring team performance:

  • Make sure the metric is measurable. If there is a metric that makes sense, but isn’t supported by the tools or processes, find an alternative, or postpone the measurement until the ability to be accurate is in place. The important thing is to be able to measure accurately and make decisions based on results. Metrics for metrics’ sake don’t achieve the goal of aligning the team and creating shared success.
  • Be transparent. Making team members part of the process helps bring everyone’s thinking into alignment. As the metrics are introduced, tie them back to the vision to really ground everyone on the goal for success. I like to introduce a roadmap with the team early on, talking about where we are, and where we will ultimately be, not only in terms of capabilities, but measurements.
  • Build balance into what is being measured. The concept of a balanced scorecard really works when building out metrics. When designing metrics, it’s important to look at all of the complementary pieces of the performance puzzle that needs to be solved. This might mean pairing closed cases with customer satisfaction metrics in a support center. This way, there is a balance between trying to close cases, and ensuring that there is a positive customer experience.
  • Publish results.  When you look at them with your team (and you should on a regular basis), talk about successes as well as areas where the team is falling short. Everyone should understand the impact of the good as well as the bad, and work together to build a positive outcome.
  • Don’t be afraid to adjust the metrics! Business goals change and so do success factors. Keeping outdated metrics in place allows the awareness of the importance of measurements to fade and leaves the team questioning the need for them.

Building a high performing organization involves a lot more than simply hiring talented people. It’s important to create chemistry through shared vision and complementary skills, and then motivate the team through goals and active leadership. Finally, putting in place a series of metrics that create a balanced view of your business – and enforcing those actions that are critical to success – can take a team from good to great in a matter of months.

I like to think of leadership as the ability to focus on today, plan for the future, and enjoy the journey along the way.