For many leaders and teams, Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a core indicator of success. KPIs serve as the foundation for performance evaluations, compensation, promotions, and can even point to the health (or lack thereof) of the company overall.  

At their best, KPIs can facilitate clear, relevant, timely communication for you and your teams about what outcomes matter most, and how progress will be measured. Nevertheless, most KPIs are an incomplete measure of success. While KPIs draw from data about business objectives, such as increasing the number of new contracts signed per month or reducing the amount of customer escalations, they don't take into consideration another critical source of data: emotions.

When I coach leaders and teams to reflect on the impact they'd like to have, I suggest they consider both their Key Performance Indicators and their Key Emotional Indicators (KEIs) for themselves, as well as for internal and external stakeholders.

Why add a focus on emotions? Because emotions drive how we make decisions, our job performance, how much customers buy from us, our level of engagement, how well we negotiate, how creative we are, and how well we collaborate. In fact, studies show that when teams are feeling positive about the work they're doing together, they are more productive.

KEIs help employees think beyond "What business impact do I want to achieve?" to include "How do I want feel when I've achieved it?" and "How do I want my boss/team/customers to feel?" The goal of a KEI isn't to create more work. It's to create a powerful, positive, and evocative picture of what success would not just look like but feel like for you and your key stakeholders. 

And feelings do matter at work. In their Harvard Business Review article, "Manage Your Emotional Culture," researchers Sigal Barsade and Olivia A. O'Neill write, "Positive emotions are consistently associated with better performance, quality, and customer service. This holds true across roles and industries and at various organizational levels."

So, let's assume you have KPIs that are supposed to drive performance, quality, customer service, engagement, and retention. Don't just map what outcomes you want to achieve but plan for how you want your stakeholders (including yourself) to feel as a result of achieving those outcomes. 

Here's an example:


Decrease number of customer complaints


For you: Relaxed, satisfied

For your boss: Relieved, accomplished, 

For your team: Invigorated, hopeful

For your customer: Optimistic, appreciative

Doesn't that just feel more inspiring and engaging?

As Peter Drucker noted, "When you hire a hand, it comes with a head and heart attached."