How do You Measure Success? Your Team Wants to Know!

You hired a team that is aligned with your mission and values. As they engaged in the onboarding program, they quickly felt that the organization fostered a sense of inclusion and belonging. You hold your team accountable for their responsibilities. What other factors help to increase employee engagement?

Measurement is another key component. Communicating how you measure success to each team member strengthens employee engagement. Clearly documenting and sharing your measurements guides team members to their priorities. If they are motivated to accomplish their goals, they will work more in the 2nd quadrant of the Eisenhower Matrix: not urgent, but important tasks. These activities help the organization achieve its business goals.

In the majority of the organizations we have worked with, the leaders are responsible for defining the success measurements. Some solicit input from the team and work collaboratively to craft measurements. This step increases employee engagement. The goal is for team members to understand what a “good job” looks like.

SMART objectives set the foundation for success. This framework prompts goal-setters to consider Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound requirements. We have worked with organizations that started with a soft approach. They communicated goals like increasing customer loyalty or increasing sales. These general goals are ineffective because the team needs to know if increasing sales by 1% or 10% is considered “good.” Using the SMART framework will sharpen your team members’ focus.

Research from Harvard Business Review1 showed that 95% of people believe they are self-aware, when in reality, only 10-15% possess deep self-insight. This reality underscores the need to create specific and objective performance measurements.

Secondly, each specific objective requires a baseline measurement to capture the starting point. Do you have the tools to easily define the initial measurement? Communicate the starting point with your team as you share the new goals with them.

One of the biggest demotivators is setting goals that are unachievable. Using baseline data, leaders should be able to develop specific, measurable, achievable goals that support business objectives. One of our clients is a residential educational facility. They wanted to ensure that they filled their capacity 100% of the time. A few leaders argued that the goal was unattainable due to the nature of the business, coupled with the program requirements. The organization offered a rolling admission schedule; however, they had experienced turnover in the past, with or without notice, and filling sudden openings rarely happened immediately. The historical data showed a 24–48-hour gap was common. Using the available data, we collaboratively negotiated a 95% capacity target for the first year of measurements.

Another demotivator is creating irrelevant goals. Team members want to contribute to the success of the organization to have a more fulfilling career. Cascading goals for the organization down to the appropriate divisions, departments, teams, and individuals helps to align the organization and keep them focused on the organizational priorities – not urgent, but important activities.

Finally, SMART goals include a time measurement. They are typically a mix of some of these time periods: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals. Tracking the measurements and reporting them, so the team knows where they stand and the level of success that the organization is achieving increases employee engagement and may motivate underachievers to shift their focus toward the goal.

When should team members learn about their measurements? The measurements for each role should be discussed early in the career journey. When individuals complain about their job duties, I sometimes ask about their job descriptions. Frequently I hear that they never received a job description. That may be a missed opportunity to discuss measurements. Job descriptions outline the duties and responsibilities for each role. To add context to the job description, managers can share measurements of success with new hires. Typically, goals are discussed across the team annually. New team members who come into the organization mid-year often receive pro-rated goals for the portion of the year they can be productive. The pro-rated goal should take place at the appropriate time, given a ramp-up period.

Once the team receives SMART goals, the measurement period begins. Ideally, they attain their goals and receive positive feedback along the way. Measurements and feedback work together to increase employee engagement.

It is likely that you will encounter team members who do not meet their goals. Coaching along the way may not drive the desired business outcomes. Underperformance signals the need to exercise the performance management process. Leverage the process to help the underachievers get back on track. Performance Improvement Plans (PIP’s) include achievement measurements during the associated time period. Once again, SMART measurements will help the team members and the manager assess the ongoing level of success.

There are numerous articles on transparency in leadership. Communicating measurements of success is an example of transparency that drives employee engagement across all organizations.




1Harvard Business Review (2018). Tasha Eurich. What Self-Awareness Really Is (and How to Cultivate It).


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230 Hampton Woods Lane, Suite 101 Raleigh, NC 27607
Satellite Office
2929 Breezewood Ave. Suite 101, Fayetteville, NC. 28303
Where to find us