The Classical follow up approach
If you work in a C-suite or you’re running a company following KPIs to see how you’re progressing and what’s happening in your organization is important and a key part of the Leadership process. I would ask you to rethink how you do that a little bit, because what happens in your organization doesn’t show up in the KPIs. That the result, right? It’s the result of capable people performing in processes, bringing value to your customers at the results in your business KPIs.
The questions that follow a problematic KPI
So what questions do you ask the organization when the KPIs aren’t showing the right numbers? One thing that would be a don’t in my world is to say, “What happened? What have you done about it,” and similar questions. If you constantly ask questions like that, people naturally go into defence mode. They can say any crazy thing that they can come up with that’s not true, just to manage the situation with you. In worst case, they might stick to it, so they’re working on the wrong things.
The better approach
What is the right thing to do then? Well, here’s my thinking. If capable people performing in processes is what delivers your value and your result, the concentrate on the processes. If the result doesn’t show up like it should, the KPIs are on a sad trend. You could ask questions like: What process or which processes contribute to this KPI? Have you analyzed the process to find out if anything has happened to make the process under deliver or if anything in the process could be done better? Do we need to repair anything in the process? Questions like these could take the focus to the process and the discussion could be constructive.
Even more questions to consider
How often do you analyse the process? or maybe What type of analysis tool did you use? because people sitting down around the table spit-balling ideas might not be an analysis as such, you might want to ensure it’s done as a team. I would concentrate on the process and understand what has malfunctioned in the process. I would stay away from questions that threatening people in a sense. You might not do it intentionally of course, but people feel threatened by questions, “What have you done,” what if there’s a better way?
Your end goal
The organization is supposed to improve and you ask them to constantly do that, you could also ask yourself to improve your leadership style, right? That wouldn’t be too much to ask, and the fact is that when people see that you act differently that can be a good motivator for the organization to do the same. Concentrate on the processes, ask people relevant questions around the processes to understand how the KPI is affected. Therein lies the secret to success.
Johan Majlov, CEO Lean Dimensions International