Throughout my many years in a corporate career, no matter the industry, size of the company, or the country, there was always some kind of individual performance management that involved goal-setting. The most effective version used key performance indicators (KPIs) that cascaded down the organization from the executive leadership team. What I found most useful about KPIs was that when I got overwhelmed by competing demands for my time, my KPIs provided a compass for what I should prioritize. It was something to which I could refer and hold myself accountable.
With more complex work, requiring greater collaboration, more work is being done in teams than ever before. In fact, according to Microsoft, we are on twice as many teams as we were five years ago. The theory that two (or more) heads are better than one doesn’t always live up to the promise, however. Although teams have become the dominant force for getting work done, in many cases, the systems in place to support the work still focus on individual performance.
When teams operate in a culture that focuses on individual goals and KPIs, they are prone to misalign. The compass for what to prioritize points team members toward their individual agenda, even when it is out of step with that of the team. In order to collaborate effectively and be high-performing, teams need a compass of their own. To quote Lewis Carroll, “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there.”
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