by Jeremy Hutton

Is your team on track to be successful?

If your boss, board or team member asked you this question, how would you respond? Would you be able to provide an immediate and confident answer backed by data? Or would you fumble with answers that begin with “I think…”  

If you aren’t asking that question, you should be.  You can’t manage effectively if you don’t know what to measure, and you can’t track how well you’re doing against critical metrics. Without the ability to measure, you’ll only be as successful as you are lucky.

If you find it difficult to quickly answer this question clearly, concisely and confidently, you’re not alone.  Most organizations have no system in place to measure how well their teams are doing, or the systems they do have are poor and incomplete. 

So, where do you begin?

Start with the “Four Voices Framework,” a simple and intuitive measurement framework that’s becoming widely adopted across numerous organizations across all industries and business functions.

The premise behind the Four Voices Framework is that leaders must consider four independent factors holistically to be able to understand if the organization is meeting its most critical customer obligations,  doing so in a way that is accountable to resource management, considerate of the people tasked with doing the work, and accommodating of non-negotiable requirements from regulators and auditors.

Key questions you should address for your “Four Voices Framework” include: Where are the greatest opportunities for improvement? Are you maximizing time for your budgeted resources? Are your employees and key partners thriving or are they treated like fungible resources? What audit or regulatory blind spots do you have?

The four voices leaders must listen to are:

Voice of the Customer

This perspective captures the effectiveness of your organization. Whether you’re measuring the effectiveness of your products and services in addressing your customers’ needs or evaluating your internal support teams’ ability to meet customer requirements, the Voice of the Customer is an existential consideration. If you don’t know how well you’re satisfying your customers’ requirements, your entire operation is at risk.

Some questions to inform your Voice of the Customer measurements might include:

  • Are your metrics representative of the ideal customer experience?
  • Are the customers’ needs represented in the metrics?
  • Do your metrics cover internal and external customer needs? 

Common measurements include: Revenue growth, compliance rate of meeting customer service level agreements, customer satisfaction rates, and customer retention rates.

Voice of the Business

This perspective captures how efficiently you are managing your resources to meet customer obligations and whether you are optimizing the return of value generated from your budget. Even if teams consistently meet or exceed customer requirements, they may have failed if they are irresponsible with the expenditure of their budget and time.

Some questions to inform your Voice of the Business measurements might include:

  • Are we operating efficiently as a business by balancing cost and service?
  • Are our suppliers and staff performing as desired?
  • How healthy are our core processes?
  • Are we maximizing our capacity?

Common measurements include: Direct cost savings, avoided costs, capacity savings, and year-on-year cost growth relative to revenue growth.

Voice of the People

Successful leaders understand that even the most effective and efficient organizations are not likely to be able to sustain their strong performance if the people they rely on to create, deliver and support their goods and services are unhappy or limited in their ability to thrive and contribute. This perspective captures how well the team addresses the needs of employees and partners and their ability to find value and purpose in continuing to work with the organization.

Some questions to inform your Voice of the People measurements might include:

  • Are we leading through the lens of our mission and values?
  • Are we creating an engaging and fun workplace?
  • Are we developing talent?
  • Are our people focused on the right things?
  • Are ideas and decisions being made at the right levels?

Common measurements include: Staff morale, staff retention rates, employee safety, and employee competency training rates.

Voice of the Regulator

It’s important not to lose focus on additional accountabilities imposed by relevant authorities, such as regulators, board of director mandates, and audit committees, as applicable. Depending on its scope of responsibilities, some teams may not have “Voice of the Regulator” measures to track.  For those that do, it’s often crucial to include key authority-mandated standards in your reporting and ongoing status.

Some questions to inform your Voice of the Regulator measurements might include:

  • Are we properly tracking all the financial data?
  • Do we have the right governance metrics in place?
  • Do the metrics represent the quality and ethical expectations of the business?

Common measurements include:  Compliance with federal or local government regulations, compliance with board requirements, and rate of adherence to the maximum number of audit findings.

The Bottom Line

Organizational performance measurement can be difficult. However, responsible leadership requires  quantifiable and objective understanding of these voices, to ensure that you successfully meet your customers’ expectations, act as a responsible steward of the limited resources entrusted to you, enable a healthy and thriving work environment, and meet the additional accountabilities placed on you by authorities. If you don’t know where to start or how to move to a more comprehensive measurement strategy, the “Four Voices Framework” provides a great first step.   

Learn more about organizational measurement strategy here