It’s something that we all know is important for anyone who is managing a team or business. And while we have all heard, and likely repeated “What gets measured gets done,” sometimes, when we get past the basic things we must measure like the financials, and perhaps some safety numbers, we fall short in this area.
Some would say that measurement is important, but it is a job of management and has little to do with leadership. I disagree and my hope is that this article will convince you otherwise.
By the way, if the idea of metrics and measuring things makes you think about scary stuff like statistics, fear not! My suggestions don’t require multivariate analysis or a scientific calculator; you’ll only need a pen and paper and the ability to observe and count.
Let’s start counting some important stuff. First, some stuff you want more of.
Positive feedback. Start with yourself. How often are you finding specific, important things to give people positive feedback about (and then giving that feedback)? Research tells us repeatedly that most people don’t receive much or any positive feedback at work. You have control over that with your team. Once you feel like you are getting better in this area (which measuring will tell you), then you can begin measuring that with others around you.
Mistakes you hear about. You heard me correctly. I want you to count mistakes, and that is a good thing. Of course we don’t want mistakes that cause injuries or break the law. I’m talking about the kinds of honest mistakes made in pursuit of organizational goals. If you aren’t hearing about mistakes, people either aren’t trying anything new or are hiding their mistakes from you. Neither of these are things you want. How many mistakes are you hearing about?
Resistance. And why do I want more resistance, Kevin? Don’t I have enough of that already? Maybe you do, but measuring it will help you think about it more carefully. Look at it this way: do you want people to openly and honestly challenge ideas? Do you want a serious discussion of opinions? This is the resistance you want to measure. It is a not-so-indirect measure (as are others on this list) of organizational trust. Besides would you rather have healthy resistance or passive apathy?
Laughter. Listen in your offices and hallways. How often do you hear laughter? Laughter is a powerful social lubricant and an indicator of both healthy relationships and healthy emotional balance. Measuring (counting, ok?) the number of times you hear laughter in your work environment is an indicator of organizational and personal health.
Celebrations. Do you have planned and spontaneous celebrations? This ranges from the planned kind to the quick hallway high fives for something going well. How often does your team celebrate?
And now some things you hope, over time, to have less of.
Cynicism. Consider this resistance with a negative spin. You know the difference between a healthy exchange of opinions and people simply tossing cold water on people (and ideas). How often do you hear things like “It will never work”, “That’s a dumb idea” and a hundred other forms of cynicism? It is worth measuring to determine how healthy it is.
Gossip. The last time I checked, there was no such thing as positive gossip. Keep track of how often you hear gossip in your workplace. And recognize this is a not-so-indirect measure of how open the communication is in your organization. After all, when people know what is happening, there is no reason to gossip, is there? And if the gossip is about other people, you are getting a measurement of relationship health. Both are measures worth tracking.
Surprises. While there are certainly good surprises, you know what I am talking about here. When people are sharing progress, good or bad, there are seldom surprises. But when results occur, it is hard to hide. A lot of surprises indicate poor overall communication and perhaps trust issues between people. You might, therefore, want to track when you are surprised and when others are surprised as well.
Measuring things helps us know status, track progress, and put focus on important indicators in our business, hence the wisdom in that phrase, “what gets measured gets done.” When you choose to measure new things, even in less than rigorous ways, you create new expectations and new behaviors.
What from the above list, or that the above list inspires for you, will you begin measuring today?