Measured Performance: Why Keeping Score is Essential for Business Growth.
As I was working on a recent project [developing a scorecard for a business with a large sales team], I got to reflect on the importance of measured performance in business. The topic isn’t new but nevertheless is a very important one. In today’s highly digital world every click, every swipe, every touch we make online is being measured. So how come huge corporations like Google and Facebook measure everything we do online, yet so many businesses fail to properly measure the performance of their people? Well, for one thing, measuring people is quite a bit trickier since most of our actions can’t be measured by clicks and software. Most interactions in business still happen in real time and face to face. That’s why in order to measure people’s performance we invented scorecards: a collection of key performance indicators, results, benchmarks and goals expressed by numbers and ranks. Still, a scorecard on its own doesn’t mean much. But when it’s properly analyzed and “decoded” by a good leader, it opens up a whole new realm of possibilities for improvement and growth.
Many people may cringe just from hearing the word “scorecard”. It occurs to many as very threatening and exposing. However, I find scorecards very “equalizing” by leveling the playing field and many business leaders would agree. A good scorecard is a proven way to improve the performance of a team. In order to manage and navigate your business, you need to know where you stand and where you’re going. A scorecard is a tool that provides much-needed clarity. Moreover, its purpose is to get everyone on the same page, create transparency and take away any subjectivity that comes from people’s opinions about how well they are doing. In his book “Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are” Seth Stephens-Davidowitz shows how much everybody lies through his use of big data and Google searches. So, by taking the human bias out of the equation, a good scorecard can spur business growth and expose organizational blind spots. Moreover, it can be used as a great team-building tool.
When you know where your peers stand and consistently use this knowledge to talk to each other, to share the best practices and mistakes, to improve, you start feeling more inclusive and unified. You also start feeling that achieving better results is possible since you can learn from members of the team that are doing well. When things are viewed as possible, actions tend to follow and better results happen. Therefore, knowing where everyone stands facilitates transparency and creates open grounds for learning and collaboration. Such knowledge is only available when you track your people’s performance.
Scorecards are also a reminder that we play to score and we score to win! Participation trophies don’t exist in the business world. When professionals get to play, they play to score and they score to win. That’s why we always count scores. Take any professional sport for example. Imagine watching football or baseball (or any other sport) without keeping scores. It would be absolute madness, and nobody would care to watch the games. It would be boring and pointless. There would be no bets, no heated debates, no fans, no fun. The competitive nature of keeping score is what makes everything interesting.
That’s why we also keep score in business. Scores show us who we really are, what we are made of, what we are capable of doing in order to get what we truly want. One of the things that I believe we all want is financial freedom. And it doesn’t come for free. At the end of the day, it is earned. In business, it’s earned through hard work and dedication. As such, successful professionals work with intention, a plan and a positive “I CAN” attitude. And it doesn’t mean that they have to work extra-long hours (though many of us do). But it means that important work gets done and goals get accomplished by specific deadlines. Every action taken and every goal achieved can be viewed as scoring. The more scoring, the more winning. Sounds pretty straight forward and simple, but how do we ensure that teams keep scoring in business?
For starters, good working conditions and a positive working atmosphere make everyone’s time more enjoyable and a team more productive. As a business leader, your job is to ensure that such conditions are present. Moreover, you should consider proper incentives, benefits, performance bonuses, and employee recognition as tools to motivate your workforce. Lastly, focus on building a culture of integrity and share the best practices from your top performers with everyone and your people will respond accordingly.
See, people are naturally seeking leaders to follow. Leaders occur to us as having better results in life. They are perceived to be successful, and who doesn’t want success? I mean, honestly? Leaders are not afraid to try things that others see as too risky and thus never even try (fearing to be rejected or to fail). So, when leaders get past their own comfort zone, try new, scary things and achieve good results, others will gladly follow because now the path is proven and thus is less risky.
In a successful organization, any individual success is still a part of a team’s success. And any good team player will gladly help his teammates by sharing his/her best practices and mistakes. Sometimes that’s all it takes. A few words of advice can change the trajectory of someone’s career. And what happens when your teammates get better? Well, the team gets better, stronger, happier and all of you start to score more often and thus get more wins. That means that everyone is growing, making more impact in their communities, and earning more financial freedom.
Now imagine that the teammate you helped is now surpassing your results (that’s how much you’ve helped him/her improve). Because you did not withhold and shared with them in the first place, they return the favor and do the same to you. They help you to improve and get better. The net result is unlimited progress, gains, and success. And I bet you a lot of happy moments and real friendships with your teammates along the way. I call this approach “Climb the Wall Together” (see the quick video below for the visual example).
While climbing the wall on your own may appear to be faster (like the first three guys in this video), and having to help other teammates and wait for them can slow you down, there are many benefits to this approach in business. When you “Climb the Wall Together”, you get to:
- Learn the value of helping others.
- Learn that sometimes you need help as well.
- Discover others who are better and stronger than you and learn from them.
- Taste the rewards of overcoming challenges together.
- Understand that the team never leaves anyone behind.
- Find new ways to grow that you didn’t know before.
- Experience how fun it is to be a part of something bigger than yourself.
That’s how real team spirit is built and organizations start performing better. When people learn from each other, support each other, and embrace the transparency that a scorecard brings – wealth and prosperity become available for everyone who is willing to do the hard work [there is no substitute for it]. If one of your peers is doing well, ask them how they are doing it. And if they are not willing to share (which would be very rare if you ask nicely and genuinely), then you know that they are climbing the wall by themselves. And that’s ok too. It’s ultimately their choice. Eventually, they’ll come to a wall high enough that they won’t be able to climb it on their own. And then they’ll learn the hard way that you need a team to win big.
Going back to scorecards and other measurement tools used in business to track progress and results. I hope you can see by now that teamwork, success, and keeping score are all correlated. In the words of the famous management consultant, educator, and author Peter Drucker “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” I would also add that “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.” Scorecards are not just accountability tools as many people think. They are not designed to simply expose laggards and praise leaders. They have been developed to help teams to pivot and adjust, to take corrective measures in real-time, and ultimately to enhance the performance of everyone. And at the end of the day if you’re working hard and getting the desired results, then your earned financial freedom is absolutely worth it. Scorecards, therefore, reveal real opportunities for growth for those who seek them. For those who disagree or think otherwise, here is a famous quote by Thomas Edison: “The reason a lot of people don’t recognize opportunity is because it usually goes around wearing overalls looking like hard work”. And that’s a whole another story…
Ⓒ 2019, Sergey “The Gambit” Kiklevich, Gambit Solutions Inc.