When you tune into a football game or tennis match on TV, what’s the first thing you look for? The score, right? The data – the numbers. We want to see if our team or favorite player is winning, the time remaining and any other pertinent information to set the context for what’s happening in the game or match at that moment.

Comparatively, I find it interesting that in business most people do not have the same interest in the score. Sure, you have your sales quotas and monthly reports, but what about the day-to-day, moment-by-moment activity that is moving your business forward?

When things are measured at work, it seems organizations only care about the negative results. When your team does not close 40% of their prospects, you’re concerned. When your organization’s dropped-ball percentage in customer service cost you the game, you care.

When you only measure negative results, you’re fostering Fear-based Management, or what Simon Sinek calls Dopamine-based Management, because when you set a high goal, hit it; set another high goal, hit it; boom, dopamine is released.

Fear-based Management is the rule of the day in American business, but everything has a shelf life and this approach to management is beginning to fail us. Why? Because dopamine, like any other kind of chemical response, only works for a season. As your tolerance builds, you’re forced to increase the fear level or start fresh with a new batch of employees. This old style of management has officially expired.

“It’s better to know than to guess.” – Andy Christiansen

What’s Measured Matters

Last month, I took a client to tour Southwest Airlines in Dallas, TX. At Southwest, they measure everything: day-by-day, moment-by-moment. Just like a football game.

And everything they measure is on display for every employee to see. In one room, they had a screen showing the percentage of on-time arrivals. In another area, they displayed the current percentage of social media interactions and responses.

Is it any surprise that Southwest has consistently been the best airline for on-time arrivals and boasts the highest rating for social media interaction? Not one bit surprising.

If business were a sport and they only measured dropped balls, fumbles and interceptions, you wouldn’t be very motivated to keep watching. There’s nothing to cheer about. You’d get bored, tune out and change the channel.

Does that remind you of any of the companies you’ve worked for?

What’s Rewarded is Repeated

Why not consider having a scoreboard when you walk into your office to give everyone a sense of the current state of affairs? Tracking day-to-day wins (and losses), progress (and setbacks), and overall performance is a great way to motivate your team to keep pushing.

Consider completing these 4 steps to begin measuring what matters at a more detailed level. It’s not just about knowing where you are; it’s about knowing what you need to accomplish to achieve your overall goal.  

  1. Pick an area where your team needs more visibility. This could be active projects, daily sales revenue, customer service, goods produced, or other metrics.
  2. Track where you are versus where you want to be, and share this in a visible way with your team.
  3. Use your metrics to create an action plan. Refer to them in meetings and set small goals that will help you track your progress. Include your team in this process and be sure to help them connect their daily actions to how the business is performing.
  4. When you hit a goal, do something to celebrate. Creating a reward for hitting your target will keep your team tapped into a positive source of motivation that will propel them much further than fear ever will.

Today, data is a big deal in business and in our personal lives. More and more people are measuring how they spend their time, their calories, their steps, their workouts. Take the same approach to your work. Be intentional and measure what matters most to your organization. By doing so, you will increase your team’s confidence, speed of decision-making and positive motivation.


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