I worked in corporate for a brief season in my life and my overlords were obsessed with my metrics and the expectations handed down by the executives that only knew us by employee and store numbers. It wasn’t just stressful, but it also sucked the creativity, freedom and joy out of us as we were only focused on chasing numbers. Decisions were made based on how they would affect a certain metric and not on the potential long term effect that it could cause for our area and the company as a whole. If we missed one opportunity we would unreasonably expect that somehow we would be able to make up for it by producing double on the next. This made little to no sense as we never stopped to diagnose why we missed the original shot in the first place.
I left that company and started my own version of distracted activity which was my first business. I had allowed my previous employer to train me on how I thought businesses were to run. Set sales targets and put all your effort and focus into achieving that number. It took me a while to realize that this form of establishing goals in both corporate and personal settings was unhealthy and ineffective. When we set our sights on the scoreboard we end up losing our vision. Loss of vision will inevitably cause a loss of creativity, freedom, and joy.
#1 Focus on vision and mission
Scoreboards are important. As a business owner you want to win and you want to win often. So, what’s the balance between chasing victory and not killing culture? First, we focus on vision and mission. You have to determine what game you’re playing before you get out and start putting effort toward scoring points. My kids are great at telling me they kicked four goals while playing baseball in the backyard. Made up rules for made up games.
#2 Establish the right daily disciplines and routines
Once you know where you’re going you have to determine the right daily disciplines and routines that are going to get you there. The average at bat in the MLB lasts 2 minutes and 40 seconds. However, there is far more time and effort leading up to that moment that is spent purposefully in the weight room, batting cage, kitchen, and recovery that will lead to a successful 2 minutes and 40 seconds. There is the temptation to zero in on the at bat and not on the broader picture of what we are spending the majority of our time on. If you have the right daily routines and disciplines honed in, the desired results will follow. Establish routines and align directly with the desired vision and mission of the business. A simple question to ask is, “Is this daily routine going to lead to the production of our desired business vision and mission?”
#3 Use metrics to establish expectations
The scoreboard should be used to reinforce the fact that we are doing the right things day in and day out. As a business owner you need to establish metrics for your company as a whole and for every individual that makes up your team. Those metrics help establish expectations and believe it or not your employees desire to know those expectations more than you. They want the freedom of knowing what they are meant to do every day. That gives them worth and satisfaction which are basic human needs.
Having a team full of people that know and can communicate the vision, perform the right daily routines and disciplines, and know the expectations for their performance will result in a healthy, creative, and fun culture that will win. Please, stop staring at the scoreboard and focus on coaching your team on how they can fundamentally play their positions. Your next steps as a leader are to:
- Make sure you are clearly and frequently communicating the vision and mission of your company. Everyone of your team members should be able to answer the question of what the purpose of the business is at any moment.
- Sit down with everyone on your team individually and make a daily “practice” plan with them. What are they things they need to do day in and day out to succeed in their position?
- Track progress with those individuals by making a list of metrics that you both will review on a monthly basis. Both of you should have a copy of this that is easily referenced at a moment’s notice.