Quarterly measures will likely frustrate your team. Quarterly measures will force your team to ask: “What are we trying to accomplish over the next 90 days?” (one of the most important of my 10 critical coaching questions)
Here’s what you might be saying or thinking:
If you have to meet quarterly measures or metrics, you will begin to live in fear. You will only strive to achieve numbers and lose sight of the big picture.
You may have thought this was the case. You may have even perceived quarterly measures as unnecessary pressure to perform right now instead of hitting your annual goals, metrics, or measures.
Your annual goals matter and can be very helpful to clarify what you are trying to accomplish. But your annual goals fail to deliver in several areas that quarterly measures do.
5 Ways Quarterly Measures Can Transform Your Team
1) Quarterly Measures Motivate Results
If your goals are 6-12 months into the future, they will rarely motivate you or anyone else. Quarterly measures give you and your team quantifiable goals that compel your team to action and innovation (see my recent article on organizational innovation).
If you are anything like me, you want to see results.If your goals are 6-12 months into the future, they will rarely motivate you or anyone else. Click To Tweet
2) Quarterly Measures Are Attainable
One of the biggest problems with relying on annual goals alone is that they will almost never feel attainable. If it takes the entire year to accomplish it, your goal won’t feel attainable in many cases until it is too late.
What if you broke your annual goals down into quarterly measures that gave you insight into your progress along the way? If you and your team know that the goal must be accomplished within 90 days, you will be forced to define reachable measures.
I think a helpful example we can all relate to is our physical health. If you know that you need to lose 30 pounds, you would be foolish to try to lose 30 pounds in 90 days (not to mention the fact that doing so would be extremely dangerous). You would struggle every day with an unattainable goal that you’ll never meet.
But what if you converted that 30 pound goal into an annual goal and created quarterly measures of 5 or 7 pounds per quarter scaling up until the end of the year? How would this affect your motivation?
You would begin to perceive the goal as attainable. You would be able to create small steps that might help you lost 2-3 pounds a month and achieve your quarterly measures of 5-8 pounds a quarter. (The weight loss example is only an example. I realize that oftentimes the road to health isn’t losing weight but living more healthy, gaining muscle mass, etc. The point of this article is not weight loss. So I’ll leave that type of advice to health experts.)
As you think about your work, what annual goals do you have that could be converted into quarterly measures that seem more attainable?
3) Quarterly Measures Create Momentum
If you create momentum towards your annual goals by meeting your quarterly measures, you create momentum that will propel you oftentimes to exceeding your goals.
Do you find that your team needs to be reinvigorated this year? How would your team function differently if you saw a spike in momentum? Or said differently, how could your team function differently in order to spike its momentum?
4) Quarterly Measures Connect Dollars Spent to Progress Achieved
Connecting dollars spent in January to progress achieved in December is very difficult. We forget so much. We see how everything added up to one result but then struggle to understand the component parts.
When you measure your goals quarterly, you will find that it is much easier to evaluate spending and also more importantly what return you’ve seen on your investment.
5) Quarterly Measures Allow You To Increase Your Goals Earlier in the Year
What happens when you meet your goals in September? Never thought of that one? I understand. We often think about the end of the year when the end of the year gets close.
But what if earlier in the year (say by May or June) you had a chance to see and celebrate the fact that by September you were going to exceed your goals for the year?
Would you do anything different?
Of course you would.
Quarterly measures allow you to celebrate progress but also avoid gloating in it. Don’t reward mid year accomplishment with cruise control for the remainder of the year. Consider increasing your goals by 25% or 50%.
If you are an employee asking “What’s in it for me?”, I understand. You don’t want to put out all this extra effort for no personal gain. But if you think you are getting a raise without going the extra mile, think again. Put yourself in your boss’s shoes, who are they most motivated to reward? The employee who meets goals and quits or the one who meets goals and then sets higher goals to keep accomplishing more?
I think we all know the answer to that one.
As you consider a shift to quarterly measures, what are a few quarterly measures that you could set for the end of this quarter?
Be specific. Be clear. Share them with your team.
Some people refer to the process described in this post as periodization. The goal is to organize your year into four smaller “years” or quarters rather than delaying all goals to the end of the year. (For more on periodization, take a look at Brian Moran’s book “The 12 Week Year“).
Remember: Annual goals motivate virtually no one…until November or December.
Look over the other 9 coaching questions high performance leaders ask or dig deeper into a specific question (this post will be updated as future posts are added).