Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn CEO, has said that “no matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” Leaders intuitively know that mobilizing their employees toward shared goals is essential to business success. But what happens when what makes executives tick isn’t what makes employees tick?
Historically, most companies frame their goals through the lens of key performance indicators (KPIs), metrics that focus on revenue, profitability, and operational efficiency. While top-down alignment on these metrics can encourage employees to act in service of business goals, especially when KPI performance is tied to accountability and incentives, the age-old corporate pressure to perform better, faster, and cheaper lacks emotional resonance. And that disconnect matters.
According to the Ceridian Pulse of Talent report, 49% of employees either don’t think they make an impact on company goals or, more commonly, don’t understand what impact they make, and this half of employees is more unhappy and more likely to leave their company. Creating a connection to goals underpins and powers employee commitment and is directly correlated with business success.
The good news is, rallying employees around a more motivating cause doesn’t require abandoning KPIs. Rather, companies must augment internally focused goals with an outside-in view that provides insight on what creates value for customers. The answer: customer performance indicators (CPIs), a set of universally desired outcomes that represent the science of how brands express and deliver what matters most to their customers. Gongos’ patent-pending Value Exchange Model connects customer lifetime value (CLV, a primary KPI) with CPIs and proves moving the needle on CPIs enables organizations to gain more value from their customers.
The Power of Mobilizing Employees Around Critical CPIs
Imagine a hospitality company that is striving to increase its CLV by increasing the number of stays per guest. Employees across the organization may understand and agree this will drive revenue, but apart from teams whose actions directly affect this metric, like marketing, promotions, and booking, it can be challenging for employees to understand how to create impact from their role.
What if the company understood that the customer outcome (CPI) that most drives repeat stays was guests “feeling a sense of belonging”? Now the call to action for employees is: “How can we create a sense of belonging for our guests?” This added customer outcome context becomes a powerful catalyst in reframing a company goal to be more intuitive to employees across the organization.
Frontline staff could then be trained and empowered to engage guests in ways that increase their sense of belonging, while design and experience functions could think holistically about optimizing the guest experience and environment. Marketing, sales, and community engagement efforts could center on the broader value the company seeks to deliver to its guests. Even back-office functions could more easily connect their work to its external impact, from how HR creates a culture of belonging internally to how finance invests in capabilities that improve the company’s capacity to create a sense of belonging.
Ultimately, the business is still focusing on improving CLV. But it has given its employees a more accessible, human-centered ask, driving more impactful actions that will ultimately improve outcomes that are valued by the business and by customers.
Finding New Motivators for Your Employees
How can you start to reframe your company’s goals through a customer lens to better motivate your employees?
- Identify the CPIs that drive growth for your business.
- Gain a deep understanding of the relationship between what your customers value and the value your company gains when you deliver on those values.
- Identify the CPIs critical to driving value for your company.
- Build employee understanding of the CPIs.
- Help employees internalize CPIs, and especially critical CPIs, for your company through exposure and education.
- When employees truly empathize with your customers and internalize CPIs, it creates a sense of purpose that will drive individual and collective actions.
- Encourage behaviors that focus on improving CPIs.
For employees to help deliver your business goals, systems must be put into place to encourage and reward their behaviors and contributions.
- Be Clear—Employees need to understand what customer goals the organization is focused on.
- Enable Employees—Employees need to be empowered to take action to improve critical CPIs and have the tools, resources, and permission to do so.
- Make it the Norm—Making decisions on behalf of customers and their goals needs to become the norm within the organization and reinforced from the top down.
- Offer Rewards—Employees making a difference in how CPIs are delivered should be recognized, informally and formally, to continue to drive this thinking and behavior.
What drives executives and what drives employees may not be as different as you think—ultimately, it is simply wanting to create meaningful impact. The Value Exchange Model unlocks the potential for companies to reframe their business goals in a more motivating way. By creating a path between CLV and CPIs, companies can now harness the power of their collective employees to create meaningful impact for their customers, thus driving value for the companies.
Sam Herzing is Strategy & Implementation Lead at Gongos, Inc. Sam is at the forefront of Gongos’ consultative approach, working directly with client organizations to align cross-functional teams on a shared vision and a path to success for complex business challenges. Sam is also a thought leader on empowering employees through customer-centered purpose and is currently co-developing a patent-pending analytical model that enables corporations to gain marketplace advantage through reciprocal value exchange with their customers.
Jeannie Votaw is Senior Strategy and Implementation Manager at Gongos, Inc. Jeannie brings strategic and critical thinking, creative problem-solving, and purposeful design to the strategy and innovation engagements for Gongos’ clients. Her mission is to lead teams to successfully develop, guide, and execute strong business strategies that are rooted in customer-centric decision-making and cultivate greater value for both customers and businesses.