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How to get your team really engaged with your company goals and dashboards

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You’ve spent hours identifying the metrics that matter for your business or team and experimenting with data visualizations to create a dashboard that Stephen Few would drool over. You’re feeling very proud of yourself, and rightly so. But now what?

Sadly, dashboards can often die at this stage. No matter how beautiful they are, they end up ignored by the team they are designed to impact. How do you avoid this and engage your team with the goals on the dashboard so they prioritize actions by looking at it every morning?

We’ve had great discussions with some of our most successful customers to understand how they help their team to adopt dashboards as part of their workday. Here’s what we learned.

Use company rituals, events and meetings to educate teams on metrics

To truly ingrain a dashboard into your culture, it’s important to make it a core part of your existing company rituals, events and meetings. This starts with education on the metrics and goals that the business is focused on, and continues by holding everyone accountable during weekly meetings.

Here’s how we’ve seen this happen in practical terms:

  • All-hands meetings: Education and awareness are vital for building engagement with the dashboard. All-hands meetings are the ideal opportunity to present the goals for the week, month, quarter or year and explain why they’re the focus. Without the ‘why’ you’ll struggle to get people to buy-in to the goals. For example, we use Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a goal setting framework quarterly. Each quarter we begin with an all-hands company meeting to cover the OKRs for the business, and each team explains “why” they are the focus to build buy-in. We also display the quarterly key results on large screen dashboards in the office so we’re all accountable for the progress towards them.
  • Weekly team meetings: Weekly team meetings are a big part of your culture. At Geckoboard, many teams start weekly meetings with their dashboard, and individual goal owners will discuss progress towards them and why we’re ahead or behind. This helps to keep people aware and accountable and means priorities discussed in the meeting are framed by progress towards the metrics that really matter for the team. It also gives individuals context on how they’re contributing to the company’s overall success.

Alexandra Mangold, Director of Operations and Analytics at Brazen, spoke to us about the impact of educating teams on goals, and introducing them into weekly team meetings:

“Our team is already aware of their goals from previous team and company meetings as we work hard on the education phase before the dashboards are rolled out. We also started introducing the dashboards into weekly team and individual meetings. Teams and individuals began to understand these are your daily activity goals and here’s how what you do individually connects to the greater whole. Everyone wants that, especially when you’re at a small company. Being able to see the direct impact of your work on the company is truly motivating and creates a level of accountability for the business’ success at an individual level.”

Delegate ownership of goals and dashboards

My colleague Adele will share a detailed post about how customers delegate dashboard ownership soon, but Alejandro Perez, CEO at Komet Sales told us how he handled it and the impact it’s had on his team:

“We’re at a point now where it’s not me building the dashboards it’s the team. When people actually build their dashboards they feel empowered, it’s their baby. I involve people in the process of deciding metrics and goals, and even if I know I’ve made my mind up on where I want to be, I do it in such a way that the decision is not mine, it’s ours. When building a dashboard it’s the same deal. I don’t tell people ‘hey that doesn’t work’, I ask them questions like ‘is this really going to help us achieve our goals?’.”

Designate large screen watercoolers

Displaying dashboards on large office screens as a symbol of your data-driven culture is a big step towards driving team engagement with goals as Tunde Noibi, Senior Manager of Software Support, Marketo® explained when we spoke to him:

“Having a dashboard on a TV in my area has absolutely increased performance as a whole. Seeing highly actionable Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) like Open Cases and Closed Cases has really motivated my support engineers since they know they can directly affect those numbers and have an impact on the business as a whole.”

Many customers call these ‘office watercoolers’ as teams stand looking at the dashboards and discuss how they can impact goals across functions. This is a great indicator of team engagement and getting the location of your dashboard right is key to making it happen. Tunde explained the quick and easy way he tried various dashboard locations without committing to drilling holes in the walls:

“My team sits in an open-plan space, so before getting a screen permanently mounted, I wanted to find the perfect spot for it. I simply put a screen on a rolling TV cart and moved it about until I figured out where the dashboard would have the biggest impact.”

Other customers spoke of using ‘eye candy’ such as ‘good’ vanity metrics, Gifs and social feeds to draw their team’s eye towards the dashboard.

Summary

Most importantly, as the manager of a team or business, you have to communicate and repeat the importance of goals. While a data analyst can put the dashboards together, as a manager your team is looking to you to lead by example with your behaviour.

These practical steps can also help build that elusive team engagement with your goals and dashboards:

  • Use company/team meetings and events to educate on the ‘why’ behind the goals and hold people accountable to them.
  • Democratize building and ownership of dashboards to create a deeper level of buy-in.
  • Display well located large screen dashboards in the office to create water cooler discussion about goals with carefully selected ‘eye candy’ to grab people’s attention.

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