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100% Execution on KPIs that Matter

In business, we have many metrics to measure every aspect of our activities. We have things that measure input, output, effort, production, effectiveness, net promotability, etc., etc., etc. But do we know what truly matters? Have we defined those elements of our business that make the most critical impact on our long-term success?

In many cases, we have found that with a sea of metrics to look at, leaders often lose sight of the most critical elements. They go after multiple data points all at the same time, and thus remain unfocused and scattered. In addition to the vast array of metrics, they never clearly define the specific behavioral tactics needed to deliver peak performance on the things that will truly deliver the ultimate results they seek. We recommend defining 3-5 most important KPIs using information already at your fingertips, and sticking to them. Keeping the focus narrow helps the team remember and execute at levels you may not think you can ever achieve.

In our book, Gapology, we discuss something that we call 100% Execution. This may seem like a lofty goal, and in many aspects, it is designed to be just that. Setting our sights on 100% execution in anything may seem daunting, but with a clear strategy and powerful tactics, it absolutely can be achieved. In fact, those behaviors may already be observed in your top performers.

Here are some tactics to consider:

  • Define your top 3-5 KPIs. These should be carefully chosen and done in a way that maximizes the impact on the things that matter most. These are not simply metrics. These should be the highest priorities and the things that make or break your organization’s success.

  • Rank your top 3-5 KPIs and set them as Result Expectations. This exercise ensures that you understand the overall priorities of the most important things you will be driving.

  • Define the behaviors that produce excellence in these top 3-5 KPIs and set them as Behavioral Expectations. Look at the team members already producing at the highest levels. Interview them. Learn from them. Go into those conversations with an open mind that is dedicated to learning. Then use their tactics as your proven methods to show the rest of the team to emulate. Set these behaviors as your “behavioral expectation.” The “behavioral expectation” then gets linked to the “results expectation,” which is measured in your KPIs. With this strategy, you can deduce that if an individual KPIs’ “results expectation” isn’t being delivered, the expected behaviors are not in place. From that information, you can provide coaching and recognition where appropriate.

  • Apply the Habit Ladder. In Gapology, we proved a tool to plan your training strategy, and it also can be used as a way of identifying misses in your process as well.

    • The Habit Ladder starts with Communication. Clearly communicating the “results expectations” and the “behavioral expectations” is just the first step.

    • The next is Understanding. Ensure that the team understands the behaviors and results we expect.

    • The next step is Agreement. Validate that the behaviors and results expected are agreed and committed to by the team.

    • Next comes Practice. Devoting the necessary time and resources for practice, with feedback, is a typical stumbling point for many organizations, causing varying degrees of execution.

    • Spending focused time in the Practice step leads to excellence and the top level, Habit.

When defining KPIs that matter and setting the stage for 100% execution and excellence in those top metrics, you likely have the know-how, skills, and tools at your disposal. Look inside your team for those team members who are already winning and devote time to understanding their methods. All of this starts with a humble spirit and the desire to learn.


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