During the pandemic, our leadership team put aside our very active effort to re-tool and rethink our key performance indicators (KPIs) and key performance factors (KPFs). Our attention was completely consumed helping our business partners and staff to get through crazy new challenges of ministry shutdowns and start-ups.
Some schools are on round three; some schools and camps have shut down permanently. And many are navigating the technicalities of government assistance programs that have added new acronyms to our lexicon, such as FFCRA (Families First Coronavirus Response Act), PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) and EIDL (Economic Injury Disaster Loan).
Metrics Express Love
Uncertainty continues, it’s our new normal, but we want to thrive in this new world. Re-tooling our metrics and KPI’s is back on the table. There is no better time than now for transformative efforts, when the walls between the physical and spiritual worlds have thinned and become so permeable. “What,” you may ask? “Metrics are transformative? I thought they were for accountability, alignment and focus.” Yes, they are. But more importantly they are transformative when constructed well, and when they are an expression of love.
Jesus’ teaching, as referenced by three of the four gospel writers, is: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Matt. 22:37-39) This version is from the book of Matthew, but Mark and Luke have quite similar texts.
Matthew’s version adds “All of the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” (Matt. 22:40) In the same way so must our metrics, if they are biblical, and if we want to be faithful.
The pandemic reminds us that we need to put people at the center.
The pandemic reminds us that we need to put people at the center. If love for people is the heart of our metrics, then chances improve that we will have transformative metrics.
Of all your stakeholders – employees, customers and care receivers, donors/investors, and suppliers – employees belong at the center of your care zone. Shower your love on them. If they are healthy and motivated, the other stakeholders will be satisfied. At Missionwell, we have only four KPIs, although many supporting metrics.
One of our KPIs is employee engagement, combining measures of turnover and retention. Predictive metrics which feed into that include weekly pulse surveys and bi-annual surveys of employee satisfaction. This ensures that our focus stays on caring for our employees. We spend a lot of time talking about our employees at our weekly leadership team meeting.
Author Dean R. Spitzer, in Transforming Performance Measurement (AMACOM, 2007), describes two types of measurement: 1) “Information Measurements” used for improvements, and 2) “Motivational Measurements” used for rewards/punishment. The drive for rewards may push out the benefit of information measurements and make people resistant to changing behavior when asked to do so. This defeats transformation. You are loving your staff when you ensure that your metrics are positive motivators that don’t create negative pressures.
Here are a few simple examples of how metrics implanted without considering the positive motivation of people can fail.
- Maximizing customer satisfaction as the top KPI can lead to staff burnout and discouragement, leading to higher turnover. Ultimately the higher turnover reduces customer satisfaction.
- Serving the maximum number of homeless people as a KPI creates departmental tension for resources, which in turn increases silo-ism, reduces teamwork and increases work-related stress. The combination of these reduces the effectiveness and capacity of service delivery.
Concepts of balanced scorecards are important here.
Concepts of balanced scorecards are important here. Balancing customer satisfaction with measures of employee engagement – and putting your employees’ needs first – will ensure your team is thinking about the needs of the customer without creating burnout.
The Board’s Role
We’ve been discussing organizations generally in this article. But an organization’s performance culture is led from the top – the board and the CEO. How does the board, in particular, lead in this realm? It’s two-fold.
- Discern: An experienced and wise board may be able to discern when an organization’s KPIs are creating dysfunction rather than transformation.
- Model: A board operates within its own performance system. In recent years, boards have made progress thinking through and selecting their own metrics and KPIs, in order to drive their discussions and agendas in a way that improves their decision making. Good boards make sure their metrics cover their generative, fiduciary and strategic roles. Great boards make sure their metrics enhance leadership and motivate the board to move the organization forward. And ultimately, great boards make sure their metrics center on love, in terms of motivating their colleagues, their chief executive, staff and other stakeholders of the organization.
Caryn Ryan is Founder and Managing Member of Missionwell LLC, which provides a virtual business office service to churches, ministries and nonprofits offering ongoing accounting, financial consulting and human resource services/consulting and much more. Caryn can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via the web at Missionwell.com.