I’m not referring to your “sleep number” (though I must admit that whenever I see those commercials, I wonder what mine is). I’m talking about the number (or numbers) for which you (and only you) are accountable – the numbers that indicate whether you and your team are successfully contributing to your organization.
For example, if you’re the head of operations, you might be responsible for ensuring that at least 98 percent of orders go out on time or that customer satisfaction ratings remain at or above a certain number. Or, if you’re vice president of sales, your numbers might be the quantity of new “A-Level” prospects added to the pipeline each month, or the number of new clients brought on board.
There are three distinct advantages to having and knowing your own unique set of numbers:
1) Clarity: When you know exactly what you need to accomplish, it takes the fuzziness (and subjectivity) out of the equation and helps define the actions necessary to reach those goals. When you boil performance down to numbers that can be easily measured, you are able to run your business (or your part of the business) more objectively, without the emotion that can distort decision-making.
2) Accountability: The key is that only ONE person is accountable for each number. There may be several people responsible for helping achieve a certain number, but one person has to own it – one person who ultimately has to answer for it and who is responsible for taking initiative to do whatever is necessary to stay on track. If more than one person is accountable, then nobody is accountable.
3) Predictability: Simple weekly reporting of your number(s) will help predict the future and keep you on track. For example, let’s say that you’re the head of operations for a software development company, and one of your numbers is “98-percent on-time delivery.” If, over the last eight weeks, this number has gradually slipped to 92 percent, then it’s immediately clear that you need to do some investigating to figure out why this is the case.
Remember, if you can identify a problem or potential issue, you can solve it. And the more quickly you can do so, the less damage is caused. You’re part of a leadership team where everyone has a set of numbers. If you’re all reporting your numbers in weekly leadership meetings, you can immediately detect negative trends, identify issues before they become major problems and quickly correct course.
Of course, depending on your position, you may have a half-dozen numbers for which you’re responsible. But if you consistently monitor those numbers to make sure you’re on track, and if your colleagues are doing the same, you will collectively increase the odds of reaching your organizational goals, eliminate surprises and consistently predict future results.
Now, that’s GREAT management!
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