Chances are that you already know about the difference between ‘lead’ and ‘lag’ measures/indicators.  Just in case, lag indicators are those that are best described as outcomes, like sales revenue and profit.  The performance that led to the number has already happened.  Lead indicators, on the other hand, are those which are most likely to predict an outcome like sales revenue, and probably more influential in real-time.  For example, a leading indicator of sales revenue in B2B companies is the number of qualified prospects a sales person will have spoken with about their current challenges.  Lead determines lag.

As we have been building our own internal Lead/Lag metric platform (we call it My Employee Life and it is now available for our customers too), it has kickstarted a number of interesting discussions about what we should be measuring, and what we should be recommending to our customers to measure.  Everyone wants to improve financial performance, but what are the lead metrics with the highest leverage that will have the biggest influence in the shortest time?

Here are three that we are now tracking which we believe is leading directly to better performance outcomes:

% of team members with clear goals

This is one thing that My Employee Life has really helped us with.  We have a process not only to ensure people have goals, but they are clear.  People who have goals, and are clear about them, are more likely to achieve them.

% of team members who have the skill and will to do their job.

There is nothing more frustrating for a person (or the team they are in) to not have the skills and knowledge to do their job properly, or not have the desire to do it.  Not only is this a consideration for hiring new team members, it is also a consideration for ongoing training and development.  People who can do their job properly, and have the desire to do it to the standard required, are more likely to do it well, which actually improves the experience for everyone around them.

% of team members doing work logs

This is another thing that My Employee Life helps us to do really well.  It might seem like a strange statistic, but we have found the more people who are reflecting on their own performance each week in terms of what went well and what needs to happen next week, the better off we are.  This 10 minute per week ‘work log’ saves us a lot of time downstream and helps give everyone a sense of personal accountability.  This in turn improves the experience of everyone around them.

So, before you go and implement an expensive performance management system, or embark on a time-consuming data collection program, it’s worth remembering that the more measures and metrics that people have, the more confusing things can become.  By focusing on a few wildly important goals, and the right lead measures, it is possible to improve performance without anyone having to work harder.  They will be working smarter, and this has to be good for everyone.

If you are interested in what My Employee Life can do for your workplace, check out

About the Author

Jason Buchanan

Jason is the General Manager – Insights & Innovation at Optimum Consulting. Prior to Optimum, he served as Managing Director Asia Pacific for a large multi-national research organisation, and was responsible for guiding the region through a period of significant change and growth. Prior to this, he was with an internet start-up company based out of the UK, and was trusted by the company’s Board of Directors to spearhead the company’s growth into the Asia-Pacific region.