“I don’t know what went wrong.”
Somewhere right now, somebody is saying this, or a version of it, in response to the question, “Why did we miss our target?”
It is astounding how often we hear this sentence in businesses all over the country, all around the world. I can offer a much better answer to the question, even though I don’t know the goal, the people, or the company involved.
The answer to “Why didn’t we achieve X by Y date” is always: “We didn’t put in enough of or the right kind of activity to accomplish the goal by the deadline.”
But if you put in enough of and the right kind of activity in the right timeframe, you can overcome almost any hurdle.
If we’re asking why, we’re usually too late. Instead, we should be proactive weekly and monthly by asking:
Are we putting in enough of the right kind of activity to hit our goal?
Are obstacles slowing us down or preventing us from hitting our goal?Ask yourself, 'Are we putting in enough of the right kind of activity to hit our goal?' Click To Tweet
How do you answer these questions? Measure and track your activity and your results, week by week, against your timeline.
It seems straightforward, even simple. Very few leaders, teams, or companies do it, though—or do it effectively. The result is there is little enthusiasm in the team for the goal. If no one is paying attention to whether you’re making progress, why should people push themselves? So they just shuffle along, doing the minimums and team or company targets are missed again and again…
Following is a 3-step process to help you achieve more of your goals. Because when we measure and track the right things, we can iterate, adjust, improve and grow.
1. Figure out the best activity and results to measure.
Big data has given rise to the belief that we need to measure everything, all the time. This attitude has pros and cons. Pro: We are collecting more data and trying to understand what to do with it. Con: We’re not necessarily measuring or tracking the right things, or using them to drive results.
First, and this may be obvious to some, every goal should have a measurable result that allows you to track your progress over time.Every goal should have a measurable result that allows you to track your progress over time. Click To Tweet
Sales, revenue, profit and other financials are given. But what about marketing goals? If the goal is to improve marketing ROI, is the measurable result the number of leads generated? Maybe your online conversion rate? You have to decide what makes the most sense given the goals you’ve established and your business model.
Second, for every goal, certain activity generates the best and fastest results. In The 4 Disciplines of Execution, from Chris McChesney and Sean Covey, “Act on the lead measures” is Discipline #2. “This is the discipline of leverage,” the authors write. “It’s based on the simple principle that all actions are not created equal. Some actions have more impact than others when reaching for a goal.”
Your lead measures are measures of activity, and they help predict your results. Let’s say you’re trying to reduce the percentage of customer service calls that get pushed up to a supervisor—a clear, measurable result. What’s the activity that moves that number? Maybe it’s the number of hours of training frontline staff get each quarter.
It depends entirely on your goal.
With measurement and the right points of focus, you know the truth of what’s happening. Otherwise, you’re just guessing until the final results are in.
2. Set aggressive short-term goals for activity and results.
Want to vastly improve the odds that you’ll hit your long-term goal? Set big, yet achievable short-term goals.Want to vastly improve the odds that you’ll hit your long-term goal? Set big, yet achievable short-term goals. Click To Tweet
Once you believe you know what activity will help you produce the results you plan to track, set short-term goals for both.
If your sales goal for the quarter is $3 million, don’t set a monthly goal of $1 million. Set a monthly goal of $1.2 million or more. Even better, look at year-over-year monthly averages and set goals appropriate to your typical sales trends, making sure you more than cover your quarterly target.
Let’s say you think it typically takes 25 client visits to generate $1.25 million in sales. Are you going to set an activity goal of 25 visits for the month? No! Set it at 28. Give yourself a margin of error. If you hit the inflated goal, you’ve put yourself and your team ahead of the game — and enthusiasm and confidence will be high.
When you set and track your short-term goals, you know whether you’re on course for your long-term goals. It’s crucial to track activity alongside results because together, the two numbers tell you whether you are on course, whether you need to do more, or whether you need to do something else. The sooner you know this, the sooner you can adjust.
3. Create a system for easily tracking your success and sharing the numbers.
When I was getting started in sales leadership, I learned one of the most important habits of winners: be strategic in how you use your results. We all know we need to pay attention to them, but we don’t often think about what we could do with them to drive even bigger and better results.
All of this work on measuring and tracking activity and results is meaningless unless the people involved know the numbers week by week or month by month. The great benefit of these numbers is that they drive focus and accountability. How do you share numbers effectively? However your team will see them and be inspired by them:
A weekly email
The home page of your database
The whiteboard in the main office area or meeting room
The best teams are competitive, even if just against their past performance. They want to perform well as a unit, and they want to compete to grow. Knowing their numbers allows them to know how well they are doing at all times. It keeps them honest and helps grow their mental toughness.
Leaders and teams that don’t perform well have a tendency to hide numbers. “We don’t want to hurt morale,” they say, or, “They wouldn’t understand the numbers.” The truth is, they’re avoiding, denying, or excusing bad results. It’s easier to do that if those results are tucked away in a drawer—physical or virtual—somewhere. The team or company becomes weaker and weaker.
When you have clear goals for results and activity, each person can be held accountable to those goals, and it should be their responsibility to consider the best way to achieve them. The only way that can happen is if they know when they are doing well or when they are off course.
In business, your success is dependent on your ability to achieve goals and produce results.In business, your success is dependent on your ability to achieve goals and produce results. Click To Tweet
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to predict your success on those two fronts? Are you doing enough of the right activity on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to get where you need to go when you need to be there?
Start tracking your best activity and the right results today and you’ll soon have the answer.
How do you track your own success? What methods do you use in your office? Comment below, and let me know!