Ten years ago, I was leading a content marketing company — a sister spinoff for a larger media conglomerate — and we were growing FAST.  

I’d been brought in to build this new company from the ground-up… identify our service offerings, build our brand, steer the go-to-market strategy, craft the client success program, and run all things service delivery. The client side was taking off expediently. We had gone from 0 clients to more than 70 in year 1, landed big-name tech companies like Sprint, Panasonic and Honeywell, and were leading marketing seminars all over the country.  

I remember exactly where I was at the end of year 1 when it hit me.  

We had data on all things Client: cost to acquire, average deal size, likelihood of up-sell after 6 months, retention scores, etc. But the only “data” I had on my team was anecdotal.  

At the time, I was leading a team of 8, my first-ever leadership role, and I wanted to make a difference for them, the way they were for me. 

The way I measured “employee happiness” was anything but data driven. It was scrappy and elementary. I relied on countless one-on-ones, asked over and over “how are you doing?,” scheduled bonding activities to gauge “vibe,” paid attention to how often my team was grabbing lunch, stalked my 100% retention rate month-after-month wondering when the first “quit” would come.  

My casual approach worked well. I experienced only one employee quit over three years, my team had FUN and did GREAT work, we added new team members while never outgrowing our “originals,” and people largely loved coming to work.  

But it was completely unsustainable. It was subjective at best. And I can look back 10 years later and realize I wasn’t measuring employee happiness fully.   

For example, I wasn’t measuring… 

Satisfaction with the tasks that made up each person’s day 

Individual team member’s career growth, versus stagnation, year-over-year 

Psychological safety with ALL team members, not just with the one or two people with whom they worked most closely 

How often my team felt they were using their strengths in their role 

Time spent activating the zone of creative genius per team member, versus “run mode” 

Impact of team happiness on revenue growth and client vitality 

Ability to attract new team members based on existing team’s pride in job 

What I was “measuring” was simply tip of the iceberg, what was visible above the surface, and what was obvious. It was easy to measure the way that I was and to give myself the pat on the back and claim victory, but it told only a portion of the story. It didn’t give any indicators as to how employee happiness was affecting organizational health, long-term business viability, or our ability to grow over time. And if I were to do it all again, I’d do it differently. 

 

Going Beyond the Obvious

Today, thanks to the surge of advanced analytics solutions, predictive intelligence, and our ever-expanding understanding of how data drives insights, we can measure what’s happening in our companies and with our teams unlike we ever have before.  

We can uncover correlations between seemingly disconnected facts of business. We can find ways to measure what has previously been viewed as squishy — e.g. innovation, collaboration, productivity and inclusion. In short, we can measure anything. 

Related Reading: Yes, You Can Measure Anything  

So, if we can measure better, differently, and more holistically, what do we need to start to measure? Additionally, how can we evolve what we are already measuring to go beyond static, antiquated, and obvious metrics and get beneath the iceberg?  

Here are three areas to start with when it comes to re-imagining your KPI approach: 

  1. Go-To-Market Efficacy: In concept, it’s easy to go-to-market. Create new products and service offerings, identify your target customer profile, and pinpoint your sales and marketing channels to break down doors, among other things. But what does it mean to have a truly effective go-to-market strategy? We need to look beyond the surface — deals won, product splash page website traffic, attendance at launch events — to determine if our GTM efforts and new launches are truly successful. Otherwise, we can get distracted with immediate wins. For example, are you building sticky products that will resonate over time? Cultivating brand ambassadors who will function as your ad-hoc sales team? Conceptualizing strong points of view that resonate with the market? We need the full definition of what it means to be effective to ensure we are building to last. 
  2. Quality of Relationship: We all want happy, engaged and loyal constituents — from our clients to our employees to our partners. But what does it mean to have quality relationships with your stakeholders? If you dive deeper, it might mean looking beyond the obvious (e.g. did you retain that customer, nab a high NPS score, and realize recurring revenue) and instead start measuring things like: how often do your clients actively refer you to their peers, how do your existing employees fuel your net-new employee recruitment efforts through their word-of-mouth, how can you quantify the impact of solid, quality relationships on your revenue and growth goals?  
  3. Productivity: The days of measuring productivity based on time in seats and output-based work are gone. That means we need to rethink what it means to be productive in this digital-first, employee-driven world. We’re in an era that is normalizing the fact that what it means to productive is different for each person. We don’t all produce the same, nor is all output equal in value. To go beyond the obvious (e.g. billable hours, amount of to-dos crossed off the list, time spent in seat), we should start asking things like: how do you measure the impact of a team brainstorm that leads to a new product idea? Do certain combos of teams have a 10X effect when they work together versus other combos? How do you measure productivity in areas where output isn’t as obvious? In this way, we can arrive at a way more progressive view on how to measure productivity.  

When we start asking different questions about how we want to measure areas of our business more holistically and powerfully, we arrive at an entirely new measurement strategy. One that goes beyond the surface, is in fact countable and predictive, and is more encompassing of the Future of Work construct.  

We can in fact measure anything. We can modernize our approach to KPIs. And, in so doing, we can usher in a new level of insight and understanding about our teams and our businesses that we never previously had available at our fingertips.  

So… what do you want to measure differently next month?  

Our KPI Finder helps you measure what was previously immeasurable. Hop on a call with our data and advanced analytics team today to reframe your approach to measurement; click here.