In one corner, there are the business owners and executives. They are focused primarily on one goal: profit.
In the other corner are the rank and file employees who enable that profit through their work.
The disconnect is this – those employees are not focused on the profit of the business. Yes, they are concerned about it, but as long as they know there’s enough coming in to pay them into the foreseeable future, that’s all they want to know.
Their focus is more diffused – more personal. It’s a livelihood. A means of support for themselves and their families. A pleasant place to work with friends and teammates.
Into this disconnect comes the leader who has to take these two “loose threads” – and in the end, tie them together into a cohesive whole.
I’ve been in that role as a corporate executive, and what worked for me as the “knot” was to come up with a metric that could be tied much more closely to the actions of the rank and file, and yet, could also be closely correlated to profit.
It would, in effect, be a proxy for profit.
We experimented for several years with metrics that could fit that bill but there never was that clear correlation to profit.
That is, until we discovered the Net Promoter Score (or “NPS”).
I saw a presentation about it back in 2006 and was fascinated by its promise – its creators claimed that it DID closely correlate to profit.
(This is all laid out in Fred Reichheld’s book, “The Ultimate Question”, which I bought and read soon after that presentation)
We started to track this score, by asking the question: “On a scale of zero to 10, how likely are you to recommend our company to a friend or relative?”
The NPS is calculated this way – the percentage of 9 & 10s, minus the percentage of zero t0 6s. (7s and 8s are removed from the equation because they are considered to be neutral)
We asked this question to as many customers as possible, via phone, after transactions which involved our employees.
And it wasn’t long before we realized we indeed had our proxy -the scores DID correlate to profit, and what’s more, we could directly tie the NPS to employee action.
I could pull out a “10” from our data and speak directly to the employees who contributed to that score. I could SHOW them how important their contributions were to that score. And I could use these success stories as examples to point out to all the employees. And the more we talked about it, the more we started to generate the 9s and 10s.
We could also relate how a high NPS creates a better, happier, and more productive workplace, because of the personal satisfaction that came from making a difference.
Once we had the proxy, we made a point of publishing the weekly NPS number and making sure every employee was aware of it. Focused, on it.
The knot had been tied. While the metrics might have been different, the entire company was now in sync, aligned, and fully focused.
And the profit came.
That experience convinced me of the necessity of the proxy – for you, it might not be the NPS, but find something. It will be the tie that binds.
(Photo by Bigstock)