Specific Measureable Results
Want to make an immediate and dramatic increase in the overall performance of your company? Try creating a set of Specific Measurable Results (SMR) for each department or functional unit.
Specific Measurable Results? Of course, your sales force has them. It's safe to say there are few companies in the world that do not use sales quotas. Not only do sales people use quotas to track their output, they often have targets which measure their activity. "How many, by when" is a familiar phrase.
Top sales people monitor how many calls they make to prospects each week. The also track calls made to existing customers, how many letters they send, how many "closes", and so on. If a sales person isn't bringing in the promised business, management can examine his or her activity to see what area might need work.
What about the other players on your sales team - the technical representatives, the sales associates? Do they have specific, measurable results they've agreed to produce? What about your other departments? What about development? Customer Service? Finance? Marketing? Administration? What are they accountable for? Do they have SMR's to produce within a set time frame?
Critical Success Tip Every department can be measured to improve its performance. Determine what you want to have a functional area do more of - what are the key activities - and find a way to measure them. Then tie each measurement, each "how many" to a set time frame, a "by when".
Say for instance, you want to improve customer service. One point to measure would be their response time to customer problems. How? Set time targets for complaint resolution, and agree on a "by when" those targets will be reached. Or, track the percentage of re-orders, and target that. Sales Associates? Measure how fast proposals are produced.
Tech Reps? Target the number of demonstrations to clients each week. Marketing? Measure how many leads are generated per month, or product awareness, or press mentions. Product development? Measure variance from your development timeline. You can even track Accounting. Target the number of days after close of business when the trial balance and month-end results are available.
Critical Success Tip To make sure each Specific Measure has its desired effect, the SMR should be the product of a negotiation, with all sides agreeing to what is being measured, how many, and by when. Then, put it in writing.
Use moving averages to see trends. Moving averages smooth out the highs and lows, eliminating any week's jitters. Instead of comparing this week to last week, compare this week's moving average to last week's. Is the moving average going up or down? Also, compare this week's statistics to the moving average.
Critical Success Tip Graph everything. Every statistic which is important enough to measure should be seen on a graph. Many companies relate more powerfully to a picture than to a set of numbers. Create graphs with one line to indicate past performance - say last year, one line to indicate your intended (target) performance and one line to indicate your actual performance. You can also graph the moving averages.
How do SMR's work their magic?
People like clear objectives. They want to know what is expected of them. SMR's provide easy to understand, unambiguous indicators of what constitutes "a good job". SMR's tell people what to focus on, and they provide a framework to think about the question "how can I succeed?"
People go wherever their attention is. Did you ever look at someone in the car next to you while you were driving, and find yourself swerving into their lane? That's because our brains are wired to always follow our attention. SMR's concentrate your team's attention wherever it needs to be.
SMRs tell you which areas need work. If there is a "gap" between intended and actual results, highlighting this gap with numbers and graphs gives your team a window on figuring out what needs to be corrected to stay on course.
Critical Success Tip Be sure you are measuring the right things. Remember, your team will go wherever their attention is! And, if you fail to institute a measure for a key area, poor performance in that area may be overlooked. Always check that your SMR's are taking you where you want to go.
Extraordinary Performance from Statistics? SMRs provide a way to turn performance up. It's much easier to create more of something, once you know what you already have. It's almost impossible if you don't.
Paul Lemberg is the executive director or Stratamax Research Institute, a business coaching and consulting firm specializing in helping entrepreneurial companies quickly increase short term profits for sustainable long term growth. Of course, he is available for keynote speeches and workshops and can be reached via www.lemberg.com