Setting Goals with Difficult KPIs


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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Most managers work best with a set of defined goals. However, it can be hard to track these when there is no clear KPI to measure. Here's how to manage this aspect of the job.

Article 2 Minutes
Setting Goals with Difficult KPIs

After a while, most managers will understand that every good goal should have at least one key performance indicator (KPI) attached to it. This enables the goal to be tracked, so you can work out how far through it you are and when it is done. It takes something vague and makes it measurable.

However, setting these KPIs isn't always an easy task. How do you measure staff happiness? Or client satisfaction? Or how well your employees work together as a team? When these are the things you are trying to improve, measuring them is crucial to their success. The key is to nail down which element of your goals are measurable; and here's how.

Keep it achievable

If you are having trouble fitting a KPI to your goal, it might be because it isn't easily achievable from where you are now. The way to fix this is by breaking it up into manageable chunks and focusing on one at a time.

If you have an unachievable goal - something the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) ranks as a major employee de-motivator - you will struggle to measure it at all. Instead, focus on what you can achieve in a month and measure that. Then move on to the next month's work.

Think about what success will look like

Geckoboard's Laura Tyson says that the two main questions you need to ask when coming up with a KPI are "what are you trying to achieve" and "how will you know if you've achieved it?" This will lead you to you your KPI.

For example, if you are looking to improve employee happiness, think about what your office will be like when you succeed. According to the Balance, there are several areas in which you might see improvement. "Customer satisfaction, innovation, and overall participation in running the business" are three examples, any one of which could be the basis for a KPI.

Make your goal more abstract

There's a final option, which is to simply not worry about KPIs if your goals are large enough. For example, Microsoft's goals for 2016 were "reinvent productivity and business processes", "build the intelligent cloud platform" and "create more personal computing", none of which lend themselves to creating KPIs.

However, these were not supposed to be measurable goals. Instead they served as rallying cries for the company to get behind. KPIs were used for smaller, bite-size goals that the individual departments of the company could focus on.

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