Behaviors or outcomes? Which do you focus on to win in business?
Let’s use a handy-dandy driving metaphor to explore this question. If my goal is to get from my house to downtown Chicago – a 40-mile drive – in an hour, and I measure success solely on this outcome, then my failure rate is 99%. It almost never happens. Does this mean I am a bad driver? Leaving my husband’s opinion out of this for the moment, if all we focus on is the end result, then perhaps my license should be revoked. But...
Have you ever driven in Chicagoland traffic? Anyone who lives in or has visited Chicago knows we have two seasons – winter and construction – neither is conducive to on-time arrivals of cars or airplanes. So, to gauge the quality of my driving on whether or not I reach Chicago from the Northwest Suburbs in an hour is not really fair or accurate.
What if instead, we look at how I behaved on my way to Chicago? Did I obey the laws? Did I arrive safely? Was I gracious to the other drivers? Did I refrain from foul language or did I swear a blue streak that would make Dead Pool blush? Did I leave extra early? Was I following the most logical route? If I controlled all of the elements I could, but ran into traffic delays I could not control, should I be deemed a poor driver?
Imagine how you would feel if no matter how well you performed as a driver, and regardless of whether you encountered factors outside of your control, you keep or lose your driver’s license based on how often you arrive at your destination on-time. How motivated would you be to continue fighting that battle?
Leaving the driving metaphor and returning to business…
Many of the factors affecting whether or not an organization hits its key performance indicators are forces outside the control of the employees. When managers evaluate individuals only on the changes in these indicators, they are holding people accountable for an outcome over which they can only exert partial control. This is demotivating. It makes employees feel powerless, under-valued, and hopeless. These feelings negatively impact performance, engagement, and retention. Employees suffer and the business suffers with them.
High performing businesses know the specific behaviors their people need to demonstrate for the organization to achieve its goals. In these organizations, people strive for key metrics by focusing first and foremost on the behaviors that will get them there. Managers hold employees accountable to, provide development opportunities around, and center their feedback on these desired behaviors. Employees see how their actions contribute to results, feel valued, and are motivated to perform at higher levels. They thrive and the business thrives with them.
To win in business, focus daily on employee behaviors vital to reaching targeted outcomes. So, the next question is…
Does your organization know which behaviors drive the outcomes you desire?