Yes, today’s post is about metrics, specifically about what are your metrics. And when I write metrics, I mean “those numerical data that allow you to know in detail what your performance is in a certain area”.
Unfortunately, many professionals do not have or do not control their metrics. They are doing different things, they are working hard… but they do not control their performance too much, they do not follow their results closely. THE FIRST STEP TO IMPROVE PERFORMANCE IN ANY AREA IS TO CONTROL THE METRICS, TO FOLLOW THE EVOLUTION OF THE KEY INDICATORS. I was writing about the importance of controlling and policing a certain area a few weeks ago in my post The Hawthorne Effect. You already know that “what is not measured, does not improve … and what does not improve, usually worsens“.
- Therefore, the first step that I recommend you to improve your performance in a certain area, is that you define which metrics you are going to use. What aspects do you want to measure, what aspects do you want to control. In your personal life, family, sports, professional … control your metrics. Decide those (few) indicators that are clearly key for you to achieve what you want to achieve. And for this, I also recommend that you think about the final metrics (for example, how many new customers you get) and that can break down these final metrics into intermediate metrics or process metrics. Continuing with the example, if the final metric is to get X new clients, you must achieve compliance with the intermediate metrics, such as number of calls, number of visits to clients, budgets presented …
- Therefore, if the first step was to define well the metrics that you are going to consider, the second step is to break down these metrics into intermediate metrics. Define well what 3-4 intermediate metrics are necessary to achieve a final metric. It is about separating well the goal (what you want to achieve) from the means (the way to achieve it). For example, most freelancers do not want visits to their website, they want to sell more (final objective) and to achieve this goal they have established an intermediate objective which is to have more visits to their website because they understand it will bring them closer to their final objective. In this sense, I see many professionals confused about it. They give a lot of importance to some intermediate metrics but sometimes lose focus on the final metrics. Along these lines, what is known as vanity metrics comes into play many times. Those are metrics that make you happy because they increase your self-esteem or your vanity but have nothing to do with your final goals (unless these are self-esteem or vanity). I guess you understand what I mean. The more honest you are with yourself and the clearer you are in defining what you want to achieve and how you are going to achieve it, the better it will be for you.
I also recommend that you DON’T GET OBSESSED WITH METRICS. I forget about the metrics and only check them once a month. In less than an hour, I review the metrics that I have defined, observe their evolution, check the indicators that have evolved well, those that have not … and I end up with 2-3 actions (no more) that allow me to improve the results in the next month. And until the following month, I forget about it, and I don’t look at it again.
Yes, I know that everything I am telling you is very basic, very simple. We use it daily in activities as simple as driving. For example, if you are in place X and you want to go to place Y, during the journey you are checking if you are complying with the intermediate metrics. You also monitor some indicators such as the speed at which you drive, the fuel level … Therefore, if we use it daily in different activities, why don’t we apply this way of working to our personal and professional challenges?
I end with a quote from Seth Godin that I love and perfectly sums up what I wanted to explain to you: “A useful metric is accurate and aligned with your goals. Don’t measure anything unless the data helps you make better decisions or change your actions “