Metrics and MeasurementNearly every organization we have consulted with in the last 30 years creates metrics that track business results in a pretty decent way. Why do you need metrics? We believe the age-old adage provides the best answer: “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.”

Fortunately, initiatives that have been universally embraced by businesses like Six Sigma, Lean Management, and TQM thrive on gathering, tracking, and analyzing key performance indicators. In today’s world, business leaders have plenty of meaningful metrics to choose from. These metrics that matter enable you to measure performance and set you up to manage better.

Why Metrics Aren’t the Whole Picture

The most important discovery we have made over the course of many years is that, while metrics do matter, the data alone won’t drive your business to the next level of bottom line performance. We have learned that the way the data is used by leaders has a direct impact on whether the results they see are ordinary or extraordinary.

The way leaders interact with the individuals with whom they work either has a negative or positive impact on the results that leaders so desperately seek. The key to leveraging the metrics and boosting employee performance is making the data meaningful to people.

Use Metrics to Motivate

It doesn’t matter if you are a scientist or an assembly worker: if you know how your efforts contribute to key results, what those results mean, and how to make the scoreboard move in your favor, you tend to become more engaged and motivated by your work.

Whatever your business model, metrics are just a tool. The magic of metrics is all about how leaders use them to coach, communicate, and solve problems with other members of the organization. Business leaders have to help people interpret the data and create metrics that feed business results, and they need to make it personal.

If leaders can connect individuals to the metrics driving the business’ success at the very core, if they can help employees see how they fit and why they matter, then every person will suddenly become personally invested in helping the organization improve its bottom line.

The trick is having the ability to position, explain, and use the data in a way that motivates and inspires people. This power resides in the leader’s ability to support, coach, and assist employees, as well as work through the barriers and interference that they will inevitably encounter.

Become a Metrics-Minded Coach

Bottom line? There is no inherent value in data. Motivation doesn’t come from analyzing the numbers. Business performance takes a sudden leap when trusted coaches help the people around them figure out ways to be challenged and stretched beyond their perceived abilities.

If people gather relevant data about themselves, about the factors that are critical to their own success, analyze those factors with a coach, and then set realistic, meaningful goals grounded in the information they have gathered, they are more likely to want to perform in a superior way.

If you already have a system to measure performance, help your leaders learn how to use that information to its maximum effect, motivating members of your organization at all levels to perform to the very best of their abilities. We can help you enhance your bottom line leadership using the resources you already have at your disposal—your people.

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About the Author
Steven Stowell, Ph.D.
Dr. Steven J. Stowell is the Founder and President of the Center for Management and Organization Effectiveness, Inc. CMOE was created in 1978 for the purpose of helping individuals and teams maximize their effectiveness and create strategic competitiveness. Steve’s special interests lie in helping leaders and organizations transform into high-performance cultures that are focused on long-term, sustained growth.

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