How I measure performance

Jac Phillips writes on the interrelation between people, culture and performance.

jac phillips How did you go? How do you know?

The answer can only be determined based on what success measures were

agreed upon at the start. Simple? Yes, in theory, but often not in practice.

When I think ‘high performance’ in my role as head of marketing, I see three key areas that have a direct impact and which we measure:

  • The business outcomes,
  • the people – greatest organisational asset, and
  • the culture – formed by the leaders of the business.

Here are some tips for how I have learned to effectively and efficiently measure performance of both me as a marketing leader and my marketing team.

Measuring the business outcomes – you can’t know what you don’t know

analyse-theme-badgeStart by asking the most important question: what does the overall business need to achieve? If you are clear on the organisational priorities that require focus, then you have a clear definition of what success looks like for the overall business.

As a critical business function, the marketing team’s performance needs to relate directly back to these priorities and should be agreed upfront by the senior most leaders in the organisation.

At the commencement of each new year, ideally the chief executive/GM or director of the overall business together with the head of marketing need to confirm the key performance indicators for the marketing team. These should be split into short-term and longer-term measurements:

  • Short-term may address share of voice based on the media buy, digital metrics, specific campaign targets, customer acquisition, cross-sell, up-sell or NPS.
  • Longer-term may address the building of brand health, increasing brand awareness, brand consideration or customer satisfaction.

Written down, signed off. I call it our ‘daily purpose framework’ and, from this point, marketing now has meaningful performance measures to devise its strategic and executional plan. Within the plan, metrics or targets should be applied to each of the initiatives and you’re ready to be accountable.

Ask me about our performance at any time

Well-known management consultant and author Peter Drucker once said: “What gets measured, gets managed,” so it is important we measure what really matters.

In large corporates and complex businesses (or those leading who make it complex!), it is easy to get caught up in trying to evaluate everything – share of voice, specific elements of a campaign at different times of its duration, all competitor activity, customer feedback, employee feedback and so on – all of it interesting, only some of it necessary.

You could spend all day measuring, so be clear on how your organisation makes a profit, and then ensure your measures (are motivating) and your marketing programs contribute to the growth.

The next step is to get the outcomes of your measurement into a report that is updated and communicated consistently. We have a marketing dashboard, which is as visually interesting as it is intellectually interesting.

We have one person in the team responsible every week for updating and socialising the dashboard – she gets input from a variety of sources (her team colleagues who sit next to her, electronic sales data or group generated brand health reports etc) and when the dashboard is emailed out to the team, a brief commentary accompanies it.

Every fortnight when we host our marketing team meetings, we also spend some time reviewing the dashboard and discussing performance. Everyone in the marketing team is informed, everyone in the marketing team is responsible and everyone is very clear about their purpose in contributing to the organisation’s performance.

Measuring the people – more words than numbers

I recall a role I held as a mid-level marketing manager some years ago in which I never really understood what success meant for the organisation I was employed by. Instead we were guided by ‘it can’t cost much’ and ‘it needs to be creative’.

Maybe it was a communication issue but, on reflection, I am quite sure my leaders didn’t have much of an idea of what we should have been measuring either and as a result we weren’t particularly focused on performance related to any business priorities. Instead, we became good at scrimping!

What a waste – the team as I remember back then were all capable and creative marketers who wanted to do the right thing: succeed. We were held back because of a lack of leadership.

I take full responsibility for the performance of my team – I hired most of them (inherited a few beauties too!) and it is my main priority every day to ensure each of these individuals is very clear on what we need to achieve – individually and as a collective, and it is my focus to ensure as a team we demonstrate impressive professional behaviours by which we operate and for which we have become known.

“Example is not the main thing in influencing others, it is the only thing,” said theologian and philosopher, Albert Schweitzer.

At the start of each year (or as new team members are hired) together we create each of their individual performance plans. Aligned to their area of responsibility, skills and experience, we are clear on what success looks like for that individual (and how their part contributes to the overall sum of parts) and we discuss their achievements (as well as challenges and areas of development) formally twice a year and less formally in fortnightly one-on-ones. My most favoured meetings. We learn a lot in these discussions.

I know my team very well. I can tell you what they each individually love to do inside and outside of work, what makes them laugh, what excites them. I have a good understanding of what motivates and engages them professionally. I know their strengths and I know their areas of development and together we work hard every day to get the best results.

It isn’t hard for me to ensure they have everything they need to do their job exceptionally well.

It isn’t hard for me to back them every step of the way, because I helped to set their performance measurement so, like me, they are very clear on what it is we need to achieve. The better you can understand your employees personally, the more effectively you can influence them professionally.

You don’t have to be a psychologist, though I think a good leader has to be interested in wanting to bring out the best in people.

A person who sees it as an investment in getting to know their people is ultimately investing in insight and that can give you an advantage when it comes to improved performance.

Measuring the culture

Culture is always a reflection of the leadership, and while there are many ways to measure a company culture, I tend to use the simple rule of thumb: talented people will stay in your business if they are inspired and engaged. They probably won’t stay forever and nor should they be encouraged to. But if you can retain consistently high performers for up to three years, then chances are you have a culture that has a competitive advantage.

I had the fortunate experience of meeting a corporate anthropologist recently, Michael Henderson, who told me, “A culture in action is a performance and either reinforces and delivers your brand promise, or makes a liar of that promise.”

This resonated with me.

“If you are seen to be more creative and empathetic in your responses to customer needs, you will delight them,” he added.

Empowering your people to make smart decisions, creating an environment that hasn’t lost perspective – e.g. has a sense of humour – coupled with everyone having a sense of accountability are some of the factors needed for a high performance culture.

As a leader, are you creating alignment between business processes and behaviours, and the type of culture you want?

Given we are all striving to create and develop brands that have an emotional affinity and connection to our customers (as well as to employees) it is important we understand how people feel about our organisations. Those brands that create a combination of expectations in customers’ minds require a culture that can deliver (and delight) on those promises.

It’s no surprise that people, culture and performance are interrelated. You can’t achieve high performance if all three aren’t a priority, and you don’t really know how you’re tracking if you aren’t measuring each separately.

The real proof of your success of course will be the results achieved by the overall business – the priorities of which you in marketing were involved in setting.

 

Jac Phillips is head of brand and marketing at Bank of Melbourne.

 

  • Well-written article there. Performance is indeed measured in various ways and mostly dependent on what the goals are. When it comes to measuring business outcomes, I suggest you try TapAnalytics, a merkting reporting platform that can easily be customized based on what data or metrics you require.

  • Laurel Brown

    Great article, it really is a balance of getting the mix right for measurement.