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How COVID-19 has changed how we measure success

May 21, 2020

Co-authored by OnStrategy’s Jeff Brunings and Erica Olsen

COVID-19 didn’t just change where and how we work, it also has changed how we measure performance.

Does that mean accountability is dead? Of course not. You just have to reset the parameters for success and how you pursue them. Take these steps to reset your performance mindset:

  • Take your pulse: Instead of looking at key performance indictors (KPIs) as aspirational targets, start to view them as health assessments for the organization. KPIs provide a snapshot of where things are going well and where you can improve (i.e., stop the bleeding). Remember, business units may stabilize and recover at different speeds; use your health assessment to prioritize operations and plan distinct phases toward recovery.
  • Check your surroundings: Check-in regularly with staff and key stakeholders too. Try to benchmark engagement, optimism and safety concerns. Without employees and customers, even the most brilliant business plans will fail.
  • Prioritize metrics: Figures that were mostly footnotes in your KPI reporting, like operational surplus or cash reserves, may be taking center stage. Or previously overlooked channels could be critical to recovery. Determine which metrics are the most meaningful to your recovery and refocus measurement and reporting on those instead of your pre-COVID KPIs.
  • Dig deeper: Don’t take any metrics at face value. Dig into the numbers until you uncover the stories behind them. For example, where are the opportunities in your pipeline are coming from? How well are you converting new business right now? Try to you understand which actions are driving results in this environment so you know which levers to pull.
  • Reset your thresholds: Instead of setting aspirational targets, start defining your minimally acceptable thresholds. What’s a bottom line you can’t fall below? How do you define “stabilization” and “recovery?” And what do those thresholds mean, in concrete terms, for the business?
  • Be transparent: Be transparent about your new performance measures, updated targets and the consequences of missing or hitting thresholds. Help the team see where things stand and what tomorrow could look like so they can visualize their role in the recovery. Many employees are being asked to pivot; don’t ask them to do it blindly.
  • Recalibrate your strategy, quickly: As a leadership team, review the health metrics regularly – that means weekly, and sometimes daily. Focus on metrics that are important today and use the information to recalibrate priorities. In this environment, you can’t wait for a quarterly or even monthly business review; things are changing entirely too fast.
  • Leverage technology: Real-time information helps the team understand the urgency of the situation and supports better decision-making. To the extent possible, collect and report new KPIs in real time, and use apps or automation technology to speed up data tasks and increase accessibility.

COVID-19 shifted business priorities, at least in the short-term. We have to change how we measure and evaluate our response. If you keep a constant pulse on the business and measure what matters today, you can strategize a speedier recovery.

Learn more

Watch our free webcast on 4 shifts you should be making to jump start your recovery to learn more about evidence-based triggers. Speakers include Wipli’s Marcie Bomberg and Jeffrey Wulf and OnStrategy’s Jeff Brunings and Erica Olsen.

We’re here to help you navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on your people, finances and business. We have developed a library of resources in our COVID-19 resource center to help you stabilize today and prepare for tomorrow. We also have solutions that can help you manage your people, strategy, operations, business finances and technology. We’re here to help. Contact us today.

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Marcie Bomberg-Montoya, OCI, OEI
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Jeffrey H. Wulf
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