Your KPIs are killing you – what should you do?

Living with KPi’s that you feel you cannot achieve is a miserable experience, the most important thing about them is that you need to feel they are achievable.

Key performance indicators (KPI) are the quantifiable measurements pertaining to an organisation’s critical success factors, which will vary between companies, departments and the people within the organisation.

The second important thing about them is that they are a means of defining and measuring progress and output among employees. Most companies have them and they will think very carefully about how to craft them, particularly if they are related to a bonus or commission payments.

The bottom line is that your KPIs are your responsibility and, thus, you have to find effective ways to hit and improve on them but if you feel you can’t do that then this is something you must discuss with your boss or the person who set them.

Your vigilance in achieving your KPIs will not only reflect on your own work performance but on your team’s performance and eventually on the company’s as a whole.

What then are the steps that you can take in order to boost your performance against KPIs?

Assess the differences between KPIs and organisational goals

Your KPi’s will contribute to the overall company performance and therefore should be connected to that in some way. If yours are out of date or have become disconnected then maybe there are grounds here for challenging them. Consider all factors before you do and make sure your have the facts to hand.

Things to check are performance in previous periods for the company and individuals doing the same job. Your KPi’s are also likely to contain a ‘stretch’ element in order to grow the business so take account of this too but there may also be a genuine misjudgement of a ‘stretch too far’.

Negotiation is always better than breakdown but you need to do it in the context of what the organisation wants to achieve and what resources it has invested in to get there.

Determine the quantifiable aspect

Your KPi’s should not be subjective or vague they are the value in your job, they must be accurate, objective and quantifiable and allow for clear parameters and measurements.

Check to see if yours are.

If you see any improvement that you could make on them then make suggestions such as if they include items like “Generate more repeat clients”, which is a very vague way of outlining a work-related goal; suggest you quantify them to eliminate subjective judgments. For instance, you could say “Generate 50% increase in repeat clients over the quarter”.

Think the SMART acronym when defining goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound, and apply this.

Identify areas for improvement

If you need to make suggestions for your KPi’s, there is always room for improvement in the organisational sense such as including:

  • Customer service
  • Product quality
  • Inventory flow
  • Production processes
  • Organisational structure
  • Reports

These areas may not be in your line of work but there are metrics for each one. So for example if you’re in sales you could suggest a customer service element or a service delivery element that has an impact on revenue or the bottom line that you could quantify.

The point here is that having been given a set of KPi’s that you have concerns about taking a more holistic and proactive approach to them will serve you better than a negative conversation where you feel they are unachievable.

All parts of an organisation are connected in some way and it may be that your role can impact another part in more ways than your boss had previously thought which could change the context of your KPi’s.

Any change that you suggest should be seen as having a value add positive impact.

To summarise, be positive about having KPi’s. For each ‘stretch to far’ make a suggestion. Find the value add component to make the suggestion more palatable and always, always do it in the context of what the organisation wants to achieve; it may have made significant investment to achieve this. 

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