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MOTIVATING

Can Keeping Score Boost Employee Performance?

You have to keep score in order to know whether you are winning--but you should only track the most important metric.

My family frequently plays Ping-Pong in our game room. It's pretty relaxed when we're just volleying back and forth, but there are visible changes once we start keeping score--greater intensity, better focus, more energy and more winning shots. You can observe the same in any sport and certainly with your employees.

To keep it simple, measure only what matters most. Do not measure everything. You can keep score on your revenue, profitability, customer satisfaction, quality, prospect pipeline, cost per sales, employee engagement, defects, inventory, call-center response time and so on. There is no lack of things to measure. Just make sure to be selective about what's reasonable and useful, making sure that it matters to both your bottom line and your employees.

Of course, if you are going to keep score, you need a scoreboard. You will want to design one that is simple and clear, resonates with your team and is easy to update. Your scoreboard doesn't have to be a lackluster summary of your monthly business report showing key measures. Be creative, and use your scoreboard to tell a clear and compelling story in as few words and numbers as possible.

Consider some of these scoreboard formats:

  • A thermometer with a rising mercury line to show progress
  • A traffic light (red, yellow and green indicators to show if you are off-plan, slightly off-plan or on-plan, respectively)
  • A jar of jellybeans to illustrate percentage of completion
  • Emoticons or visual indicators such as thumbs up/thumbs down next to each goal
  • A picture of an actual scoreboard to keep track of revenues, new deals, market share, customer referral, or whichever metrics are most important to your team

Keeping your scoreboard up-to-date is critical. If your scoreboard doesn't contain the current score or is not seen as a reliable reflection of current performance, winning will no longer serve as a motivator, and the scoreboard will lose its power to boost results.

Have you had success in keeping score with your company? What type of measurement did you use?

Download free book chapters from the author's book Stick with It: Mastering the Art of Adherence for more tips for leadership and collaboration. 

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Last updated: Aug 27, 2013

LEE COLAN | Columnist

Lee Colan is founder of the L Group, a consulting firm that equips and inspires leaders at every level. He is a leadership adviser, presenter of practical ideas, and a Thinkers 50 nominee for Top Management Thinker.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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