If you lead a team, a division, or an organization, you know that one of the essentials to success is knowing where you stand relative to your goals. In my book, The 17 Indisputable Laws of Teamwork, I write about “The Law of the Scoreboard,” which states: The team can make adjustments when it knows where it stands.
Every “game” has its own rules and its own definition of what it means to win. Some teams measure their success in points scored; others in profits. Still others may look at the number of people they serve. But no matter what the game is, there is always a scoreboard. And if a team is to accomplish its goals, it must know where it stands.
It must look at itself in light of the scoreboard.
Why is that so important?
Because teams that succeed adjust continually to improve themselves and their situations.
While teams may plan for the way they want to play the game, the scoreboard dictates how the game needs to be played.
No team can ignore the reality of its situation and expect to win. The scoreboard is essential because it defines reality, makes everyone aware, informs decisions, influences adjustments, and reveals the outcome.
How Do You Build a Scoreboard?
If the old saying is true that “What gets measured gets done,” then there’s a significant advantage to building an accurate scoreboard for your team. We’re going to briefly examine the five components for building your team’s scoreboard.
Define the Game
Before you begin to build a scoreboard for your team, you must first understand what game you’re playing. You need to sit down with your people and discuss things like purpose, vision, and mission before you begin building strategies and measurables.
Many teams establish strategies and rules without ever establishing the game. You have to set the upfront expectations first in order for anything to be meaningful.
This is the big picture of what you want to achieve. In most businesses, the target is something like a budget number or units sold. Targets establish what your team is aiming for as they work. Targets need to be specific, measurable, and compelling—your goals, whatever they might be, need to engage the hearts, minds and wills of your team members.
Key Performance Indicator (KPI)
Once you know what your targets are, you need to a tape measure for your team’s performance toward those targets. KPIs are units that help evaluate the critical aspects of business performance. KPIs are big picture measurements, not final results.
In the John Maxwell Company, we track the following KPIs—Prospects (number of potential clients), Produce (close business with clients), and Performance (serving those clients with excellence).
This is the smaller units of measurement for your scoreboard. If the KPIs are the big numbers you need to hit, then metrics are the smaller numbers that get you there. For example, if your monthly business goal is $100,000 in revenue, then you can build out metrics for your top two KPIs (Prospect and Produce).
If you sign one out of every four prospects as a client, for an average contract value of $25,000, then you can develop the following metrics:
- Minimum Number of Prospects Needed Monthly: 16
- Minimum Number of Contracts Signed Monthly: 4
If you’re not sure what your metrics should be, there’s a great article in Forbes that highlights ten metrics that many high-performing companies track. The point isn’t to do what everyone else does (though there are some standard metrics all businesses must track), but to track those metrics that are most meaningful to your team and its target.
This is the final step to building your team’s scoreboard. It’s also the step that some folks leave off. Metric drivers are the specific actions that will move the measurables forward. No metric is truly measurable if it does not have at least 1-3 specific actions to drive it.
Think of it this way: in a team sport like football, progress is measured in yards advanced. For every ten yards you gain, you move that much closer to your target (a touchdown). You need, on average, eight first downs to set up a touchdown opportunity. That means having plays designed to get you the necessary yardage for those eight first downs.
Within each play, every player on the field has a specific action they must perform. Regardless of what position you play—quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end, or lineman—you must complete your assigned action for the play to work and move your team forward.
In this analogy, here’s how things breakdown:
- KPIs—Eight first downs (moving the ball 10 yards forward at least 8 times)
- Metrics—Plays called
- Metric Drivers—specific actions of the players during each play called
This is oversimplified, but it speaks to the power of the scoreboard, and the necessity of metric drivers for achieving progress.
In your team, you will have different players who are responsible for different actions that must work in concert for the team to move forward and deliver on your metrics, KPIs, and targets. While you may have job descriptions or responsibilities, the list of tasks each team member needs to do isn’t as helpful as a list of tasks connected to the reasons why the need to be done.
Engagement increases when each person on your team understands their role and responsibility, and how fulfilling both moves the team towards its ultimate aim. Scoreboards can reveal some tough situations, but they also reveal where your team has the opportunity to turn things around.
Every team needs to know the score—that’s why developing your team’s scoreboard is a must.