26 July 2017

Drive change with the right KPIs

What kind of change do you expect from your employees, and what kind of change do you expect from yourself?

“If a company needs continued development, all employees must develop individually as well, but not within the same areas. And if you as a leader keep working with the same procedures, the employees will too.”

These words come from Danish Change Management expert Thomas Leer-Jacobsen, who focuses on how to change the way traditional targets and KPIs are formulated when driving change in organisations.

Historically we have always measured productivity in terms of workers. But how, for example, do we measure the implementation of a new HR strategy? We need to move away from the mentality of ‘sales-KPIs’ and towards the ‘change-KPIs’.

"As a Manager, you should know what specific changes you want to see from your employees – and make sure that the change happens."

Thomas Leer-Jacobsen encourages Managers at all levels to lead their employees based on their individual abilities, and focus on their potential for development.   

“It is not easy to detect the potential for development among your employees, but it is necessary. As a Manager, you should know what specific changes you want to see from your employees – and make sure that the change happens. It is your responsibility to collaborate with the employee. It takes time, because there is no such thing as a quick-fix,” says Thomas.

Match of expectations
Today, it is common for Managers to send their employees on ad-hoc courses and educational programmes without any specific purpose.

“I always suggest that the employee and the Manager make time to agree on some sort of contract before starting a course of education and change — a document that outlines what each person expect of one another. What is new? What should we continue doing – and what should we stop doing from now on?”

Thomas then elaborates:

“Only in very rare cases do people think about what they need to stop doing. Change is always added to the old procedures and that is a mistake.”

The most important job for a manager every time new tasks or competencies are added is to think about what tasks, habits and procedures the employee should discontinue.

Steer towards the target
Good communication is key. You need to set clear targets and KPIs on what you expect more of and what you want the employees to stop doing.

“If you can’t express yourself clearly, then nothing is going to change and everybody is going to fall back into their old habits. You basically have two choices: do you want to be a Manager in control, or do you want the employees to control you? There is no reason to be afraid of setting a clear direction and using control. Most employees miss clear direction from their Managers, and they are fine with a well-argued ‘no’.”

The change-KPIs should be both personal and team-related.

Read also: The successful strategy

Change ”what’s in it for me?” to “what’s in it for us?”
The result will often turn out better if you prioritize team spirit over competition between employees. But of course, that can vary from company to company.      

“Leadership is about making the popular as well as unpopular decisions. Do you want team spirit or a mentality of competition from your employees? You decide. But first you must understand the dilemma, the pros and the cons, and then make the decision,” concludes Change Management expert Thomas Leer Jacobsen from Leer Coaching and Consulting.   

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