Lydia Hooper underlines the importance of a good visual in your comms strategy.
Metrics are meant to help companies keep teams aligned and progressing toward goals, but too often they remain buried in spreadsheet mazes, complicated dashboards, or lengthy reports.
This is a missed opportunity because company metrics are critical tools for employees to:
- Understand primary objectives
- Track progress toward goals
- Make decisions that improve results
But metrics cannot be useful unless they are shared with employees in meaningful ways. It’s one thing to collect and analyse data, it’s another to present it in a way that is practical and impactful.
Here’s some key ways to keep company metrics top of mind so employees can recognise and use them as the important tools that they are.
Companies whose metrics are not well-aligned with their strategies are especially prone to surrogation, or a tendency to replace strategy with metrics.
Identify the very best metrics
There’s a well-known saying that ‘what gets measured gets managed’. It’s essential to identify which company metrics need to be communicated in order to best support employees as they work to achieve goals. Often KPIs include financial measures such as sales growth as well as other measures such as customer loyalty.
The best metrics measure outcomes that are the persistent, predictable result of specific actions or activities, according to an article in Harvard Business Review. In other words, they are actionable.
Companies whose metrics are not well-aligned with their strategies are especially prone to surrogation, or a tendency to replace strategy with metrics. This can be incredibly harmful, especially if one big metric is used to gauge the success of multiple projects and people.
You don’t want to conflate customer satisfaction with survey scores if it means employees will seek to improve survey results rather than improving customer experiences, for example.
It’s wise to consider all of the company’s stakeholders when outlining KPIs, especially those your company claims to care about. The Royal Commission issued a report in 2018 saying banks over-emphasised measuring corporate profit and gave too little attention to monitoring organisational culture.
In 2019, both the U.S. Business Roundtable and the Australian Institute of Company Directors emphasised the importance of thinking of all stakeholders, including customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders.
Don’t forget, not all measures need to be quantitative. Qualitative measures are just as meaningful, sometimes even more so. In addition to reporting on numbers, you can include things like related case studies and testimonials.
Use a variety of visuals for data storytelling
Unfortunately, information overload, general confusion, and persistent fatigue have become especially common over the past year. So has virtual communication, which can present communication challenges like unclear expectations and missing cues that help establish trust.
Visuals are already playing a key role in sharing information quickly and convincingly. Research over the past 50 years has shown that they drastically improve attention, comprehension and recall. When it comes to employee communications, they are no longer nice-to-haves, they are critical.
You can highlight company metrics in informational graphics, or infographics. You can support your employees in being able to continually reference and even share key visuals by repurposing them in various reports, presentations, training materials, and job aids.
As you create these visuals, be sure to think carefully about employees. For example, it’s helpful to add information that will support their understanding but to refrain from including lots of details unless they are already familiar with the big-picture.
Here are some examples of visuals covering a wide range of potential metrics in varying levels of detail, to give you some ideas.
Image credits: Venngage
Reassess your metrics and your communications over time
Just like you will want to revisit metrics as your company adapts and grows, it’s important to regularly check in with employees and reflect on the effectiveness of your communications. You can ask questions such as:
- Are these metrics and the way they are presented as relevant and helpful as they can be?
- How frequently are they referenced, and/or are they easily recalled over time?
- What impacts have these communications had on company results, if any?
It will likely take time to get your team on the same page but it’s worth the effort. Many people likely already feel they don’t have all the information they need to succeed, so don’t underestimate how valuable it can be to provide some clarity.
About the author
Lydia Hooper is the information design expert at Venngage.