Written by Heather L. Cole, June 9th 2022
Are you struggling with standardizing a common view and in some cases defining the KPIs for your organization? Are you feeling like you are dealing with the “flavor of the day” where only the teams promoting the KPIs use them? Well, you are not alone! Today we will share tips on how to create support for KPIs across the organization. Next week we will share additional tips to develop the KPIs.
Creating Support for KPIs
To gain support for your KPIs you need to first start with the strategic goals of the organization, then ensure that you are engaging the right stakeholders from the very beginning and finally communicate the WHY.
Start with the Strategic Goals
For KPIs to be effective they should reflect the strategic initiatives of the organization. I am always amazed that when I teach business intelligence and analytic courses, I survey the audience and ask, “How many can clearly articulate the strategic goals of their organization?” Amazingly less than 4% of the attendees raise their hands. Think about that. Assume you were having a soccer tournament that had 8 teams registered. Each team had 15 players (11 players and 4 substitutes) so there were 120 players registered. Now assume that of the 120 players only 5 of them knew what goal to shoot on to score. Is anyone else picturing a tournament of 4-year-olds?
If you don’t want your business run by 4-year-olds, you MUST first make sure everyone especially the analytic professionals know the strategic goals of the organization.
The next step is to ensure you are engaging the right stakeholders. But how do you know who the key stakeholders should be?
Start by looking at the strategic goals. Who is your organization serving? Typically, it’s our customers, employees, suppliers, and shareholders.
According to Graham Kenny in his blog, Create KPIs That Reflect Your Strategic Priorities
in Harvard Business Review, “The first step, clearly, is to identify the key stakeholders of your organization or strategic business unit. Understand that your relationship with each is a two-way street, then develop measures on both sides of those relationships.” For example, a distribution company’s stakeholders may be employees, suppliers, and customers. The stakeholders are people that the organization needs to have strong relationships within order to succeed. Mr. Kenny says, “measuring performance is measuring relationships.”
I absolutely agree with this philosophy, but many organizations make the mistake of assuming they know what their customer, suppliers and employees want out of the relationship. They never stop to ask the stakeholders what they want. By connecting with the stakeholders like employees you will be able to better define the KPIs that need to be measured to help retain talent.
By designing your KPIs to be aligned with the strategic goals and providing visibility on how you are serving your stakeholders from both your perspective and theirs you will naturally be able to get your teams to see the value of the KPIs. But this may require executives and managers to educate their teams on the WHY!
As my favorite author Simon Sinek says, “People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.” Simon Sinek, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
Leverage the Power of Consistency
I would be doing you a disservice if I did not share with you one of the most powerful ways of increasing adoption of your KPIs, and dashboards the Power of Consistency.
The Power of Consistency is one of 7 principles of Influence developed by Dr. Robert Cialdini, the Regents' Professor of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and Distinguished Professor of Marketing in the W. P. Carey School. When used correctly consistency can increase adoption and usage of your KPIs and therefore help the organization achieve the strategic goals faster.
The first step to consistency is to engage people in the development of the KPIs. “Consistency is a principle that asserts that people want to be and to be seen as consistent with their existing commitments," says Cialdini.
You start with small steps. For example, you could ask people to create a list of items they would like to see measured as a KPI. By just asking them to create a list they are taking a small action toward your initiative. Once that have taken a small step, they are more likely to take another step, and another. They are also more likely to support a project they feel they have participated in creating even if their role is minimal.
“You don't create a commitment inside people that they don't already have," Cialdini explains. "But you can look for commitments that they've already made, and then you can align your requests with that, so what you're offering them gives them precisely what they're looking for in a business partner.”
Now that you understand how to create support for KPIs across the organization by clarifying the strategic goals, then identifying the stakeholders, communicating the WHY to the teams and finally engaging people in the process, it’s time to act.
- Validate the strategic goals for the organization.
- Create a list of stakeholders.
- Ask the stakeholders what they want out of the relationship with your organization.
- Create a survey of team members asking their opinion on what KPIs are important.
Remember Small Steps are the key to success.
IBM Planning Analytic and Cognos Clients
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