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WorldLine Training

WorldLine Training

How to Drive Your KPIs

Every company worth its salt has KPIs, or would like to have them if the majority wasn't biased against the gravitas they represent. Dry and brittle, KPIs can turn to dust and be swept under the rug by employees and managers alike, unexciting to uphold and representing no reward. Under normal circumstances, that is. You can change those circumstances, and dramatically improve results.

The norm would be to pick 2 or 3 key performances that signal to your teams which measurements are most important, often being LTIs (lost-time injuries), timekeeping and product returns. They are also the easiest to trace, which is helpful. Trouble is, nobody got to choose these directives bar the management team. They were imposed as must-dos and this is anathema to thinking people. Even when your operation depends on it.

Increasingly these days, emotional impact is being given some credence and that's got to be a good move, for it opens up possibilities in human capability that have thus far been buried in the protocols of industry. If you watch snooker and are old enough to remember Ray Reardon, you'll have noticed a significant change in the game over the past 40 years. Where once a century was a high-tea rarity, now it's fully expected a player will get one in the course of every match. Once upon a time most frames took at least 20 minutes; these days if the clock ticks that far the commentator is venting some impatience. In Ray's day a frame was a tentative game of cat-and-mouse - today, winning in one visit is no major surprise. If this is progress, it's come about in tandem with recognition of psychology as a primary force of fortunes on the baize; as mental prowess has gained attention, players have in turn stepped up their mojo, with the resultant rise in technical proficiency being a direct result.

In the boardroom, then, perhaps it's time to put genuine engagement to the test. KPIs are a wonderful platform for doing just that. You get to see the results, and everyone gets to see the history of their successes. Only you have to do it a little differently these days if you're going to achieve those levels of aspiration pitched on the paper.

You must, first and foremost, involve people. Put a working party together of representatives from across the matrix, so that those who would normally have little to do with each other have an opportunity to constructively interact. This frees two birds with one latch - it enables the decision-making process to favour all sectors, and embeds greater fluency of cross-cultural communication.

Allow this new working party freedom to grow. Provide something of value to ignite enthusiasm - a guest speaker to present on a topic of their choosing, for example. Keep responsibilities light and easy, remembering they're not getting paid extra to be doing this, they're doing it because they want to contribute constructively and be part of a future that means something to them as it does to everyone else in the company (of which they want to be proud to be part). The initial prime directive should be implementation of KPIs.

Don't expect a flat-bed delivery of derisory returns. With encouragement, you'll get all kinds of ideas as to what can be fruitfully measured. From quality to housekeeping, best-practice tracks can finally see some life, because the people responsible for actually doing the work are now in charge of how that work is actually done. This might seem like a shift in the right direction, but it's a step onto the platform of empowerment many leaders are still reluctant to take.

Remember the importance of reward. Good habits evolve because they are rewarded - that's basic psychology. Set targets with visible deliverables attached, so staff can look forward to something when they attain the heights you'd like to be flying at. Use your imagination, let others use theirs, and you have a recipe for success on your hands that will become unique to your company and enjoyable for everyone to partake of, setting your mission on an exponential curve of continuous improvement away from fire-fights and feeble returns for effort.

Spring is a great time to kick-start fresh ideas. Get in touch if you'd like to chat about how best to grow those prize-winners everyone wishes to reap. Here are some views of one of my all-time greats - you might like to know how it was done.

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