A common phrase we hear in fixed operations is “tracking performance.” This seems simple enough, but is it? In most cases, this has one meaning to your leadership. This means transcribing numbers from the DMS to a spreadsheet or tracking sheet. Once these numbers are inputted, then the next phrase we hear is “on track” or “not on track.” That is where everything just kind of ends.
Tracking performance is actually several key decision-making actions. First and foremost, the information is historical data, which means there is absolutely nothing you can do to change yesterday. However, there are countless actions you can take to prevent, maintain, or increase tomorrow’s performance.
Once information is gathered, a leader must analyze and develop the best course of action for tomorrow. I like to refer to this action as “making the best business decision.” We can gauge our department’s current direction with raw data. We then must determine the best avenue of approach for our goal. We take into consideration items such as employee goals, department goals, weather, attendance, equipment, manufacturer, expenses, staffing, and the list can go on and on.
Now, how do we determine what the best avenue of approach is? We do this by looking four steps ahead. Leaders must take the time to consider that every action has a reaction. So, what develops as a great idea to increase one of our metrics may adversely reduce another metric. This is where leaders seem to fail a majority of the time. The reason is the mentality that a leader is a solitary individual making decisions for everyone. This could never be more incorrect. A leader is part of a fully functional team striving for achievement and a single unified goal.
Our next course of action is that we have to implement and monitor. The key to this is to actively monitor the progression. Not all avenues lead to the outcome we desire. A leader must be ready at any second to make a change. I like to refer to this as “calling an audible,” just like in sports. The leader may see the course diverting from the goal, and it is the leader’s responsibility to be actively present to prevent deviation.
Now that we have analyzed the data, determined the best avenue of approach, and actively monitored our implementation, what now? It’s a simple answer. Just repeat. This is a daily cycle process. Notice I said “daily.” Leaders tend to compare growth and performance from month to month. Changes in our business occur on a daily basis, and we must be ready to adapt and change with them. Only the mediocre set a deadline, such as the end of the month, to make a change. Exceptional leaders are the ones who strive to make changes daily. I’m not sure about you, but I want to be better tomorrow than I was today.
In closing, when you get to work tomorrow morning and sit down to “track” the prior day’s business, think to yourself, are you truly tracking, or are you just transcribing?