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How to Manage Your Organization Solely Through Performance Statistics Being able to measure productivity for every single employee -- including you -- is vital to the success of any company.

By Stu Sjouwerman Edited by Jessica Thomas

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Teera Konakan | Getty Images

When you try to manage a company, how you and others feel matters. But much of management still relies on what you can quantify. To offer direction and rationale for what you're doing and to keep everybody grounded toward the same goals, you need performance statistics to serve as a foundation.

Related: 3 Mistakes All Successful Leaders Know to Avoid

Managing using data in a practical, everyday way

The first thing you have to do to easily manage through performance statistics is hone in on product results. Product results can be anything from the number of sales somebody completes to the lines of code a person writes. But everybody, regardless of their position in the business, has something they're doing or creating that you can quantify. Your first step in good management is to identify what those products are so you can measure and track them.

Taking a close look at your job descriptions is a great start. A successful job description doesn't just outline generic responsibilities. It also communicates the specific outcomes you associate with those responsibilities. Job applicants should know the deliverables you expect before they even apply so they can determine if they are capable of doing the work at the required level. Make sure your legal team vets all of your job descriptions so that you're presenting the responsibilities and expectations in a non-discriminatory way.

Then, break down the product results. For example, if you've decided to measure an employee's sales, you'll want to analyze them by year, quarter, month or week, depending on what's most relevant for you. Log this statistic at the end of whatever period you choose. Doing so will enable you to create a graph that gives you a picture of trends.

In most big public businesses, a dedicated team called Business Process Management works with the HR department to figure out which stats to measure, while breaking them down for each position. This team will take your product data and enter it into whatever management console you have (e.g., Envisage).

Performance statistics as a tool

Now that you have that info, it's time to put it to use. Gathering this data enables you and your employees to leverage the information as a tool to change what people do or think.

If you're approaching the data the right way, then you can look at it and keep asking questions (e.g., "Why are your demos low?"). By drilling this down, you can analyze and uncover the root cause of a problem. And once you know what the root issue is, you can make an action plan to fix it.

Fixing problems in a company should be a collaborative process between you and your workers. One of the big benefits of transparent performance statistics is that each employee has a clear picture of what's going on for themselves. It becomes obvious to them whether they're delivering or not. And, that's good for business.

When people can monitor and analyze on their own to a certain extent, they're more empowered to step up and start managing themselves based on their own data sets and trends. And when you've got workers directing their own tasks, you can stop micromanaging. That goes a long way toward building good relationships and showing people that you trust them. You need that relationship and trust for great morale, productivity and retention. Plus, you can direct your energy toward other important things to keep the business efficient and competitive.

Related: What Do Bill Gates, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett All Have in Common?

Good management of performance statistics yields happy workers who perform better

No one can manage a company based solely on data, but information about performance can still be a powerful tool. It paints an objective picture for problem solving and change. Identifying specific deliverables to measure, clarifying those deliverables through your job descriptions, and breaking down the appropriate statistics sets you up for a successful analysis. Your Business Process Management and HR teams can oversee this process, but ultimately you and your employees should work together to leverage the data properly. Employees should be able to use the performance statistics to self-manage. Done well, this approach will give you the happy, productive team you need and want.

Stu Sjouwerman

Founder and CEO, KnowBe4

Stu Sjouwerman (pronounced “shower-man”) is the founder and CEO of KnowBe4, Inc., which offers a platform for security awareness training and simulated phishing.

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