What Metrics to Measure: Don’t Judge Me!

No one likes being judged. And that’s one of the big reasons I think a lot of businesses end up skipping or avoiding metrics. But it’s important to remember that metrics are not judgements! Sure, most of the time they get treated like grades, but that’s all wrong. Metrics are the landmarks and trail markers on your treasure map to success. If you aren’t checking them, you’re going to have a hard time getting where you want to go. And if you’re referencing the wrong ones, you’ll end up frustrated—and lost.

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Why We Avoid Metrics

I don’t know about you, but there have been times in my business where I have flat-out avoided looking at the numbers. You might have guessed that those were not times when my business was wildly successful.

Why? Well, because humans run businesses. Humans have feelings. Lots of feelings are involved when making or not making our numbers, especially if you are the business owner. We might also think the numbers mean something about us. (By the way, the numbers don’t mean anything about you. If you remember nothing from this blog, remember that.)

In my experience, feelings about metrics also include frustration and self-doubt that has a tendency to be super-amplified when effort doesn’t directly translate into success. And this all leads to avoidance of looking at the numbers, which is precisely the wrong action to take when you don’t like the results you’re getting.

Expectations and lack of context around metrics can lead to avoidance, frustration, and a spiral of self-doubt.

The Real Benefit of Knowing Your Numbers

We have measures and numbers in the business to keep us on track to reaching our goals. And the metrics we focus on have the ability to inspire or discourage us.

There are lots of factors that go into the number of leads you receive in a week—many of which you don’t have direct control over. But you do control what happens before a lead comes in, for example the number of ads you run, calls you make, or events you attend.

Part of defining metrics is to separate out numbers you have complete control over from those you don’t. To measure effort vs. results, you need to define leading vs. lagging indicators. If you haven’t separated out leading vs. lagging indicators, metrics might feel discouraging, and that can lead to them being avoided. Or the blame game starts happening when reports are reviewed.

Separating out leading vs. lagging indicators acknowledges effort, giving more context to the numbers. It allows visibility into how they are related and also where there’s a disconnect between effort and outcome.

What Your Metrics Really Are

Look at your list of metrics and KPIs and determine which ones are leading and which ones are lagging. Leading indicators typically should be reviewed weekly to see if things are on track. Lagging indicators might get slightly less frequent review or get reviewed in the context of what happened previously. They are, after all, lagging metrics.

When reviewing metrics, KPIs, and analytics, remember this isn’t a report card; it’s a treasure map.

When viewed like a report card, that makes metrics into judgements. And judgements make us feel bad, close us off, and lead to avoidance. There’s no actual “end of the semester” here or formal graduation; there’s no time limit for making changes or getting extra credit to affect the result we’re getting.

Move Forward Armed with Information!

Like everything else in your business, metrics will continue to evolve over time. But by getting clear on your metrics and separating out leading and lagging indicators, you get at-a-glance insight into the health of your business. Your “treasure map” of KPIs can give you a clear understanding of what effort is being made and the ability to decode the drivers of the business results you want.

Want to make smarter business decisions, spend less money on marketing trial and error, and have an overall line of sight on your business health and growth? We can help. Our analytics and reporting service Insight Pro is a done-for-you service to properly set up metrics in your business and serve them up to you so you can use the metrics that matter to your success.

Questions? Get in touch!

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