Cella Consulting partners with Marketing and Creative Operations teams across industries to help them identify and capture opportunities. One common opportunity we see is the need to create operational metrics to add value to their departments. 

Operational performance metrics play a critical role in shaping your team or company’s culture. It is important to strike a balance between motivating for a results-oriented culture and fostering an environment of emotional safety. In this blog we will explore the cultural implications of performance metrics and the impact they have on shaping team dynamics and values.

Operational performance metrics are quantitative measures that provide a framework for evaluating and tracking individual, team and organizational achievements to understand if things are being done the right way. They are essential for marketing and creative teams to understand their operations AND how they are impacting your culture.

Organizational culture refers to the values and beliefs of an organization. Some organizational cultural elements are obvious, such as dress codes, and on the other end of the spectrum, you have the cultural elements that may not be openly discussed but they exist and have significant impact. This is often where emotional culture sits, making it easy to shy away from these types of considerations. 

How can we influence and shape the emotional culture of operational metrics within our departments? There are numerous factors to consider – a very important one being that every person on your team processes emotions uniquely, so consider the individuals you manage. Here are seven factors to consider that  influence cultural dynamics, values and the overall work environment:

1. Creating a Results-Oriented Culture

Consider if you want to focus on outcomes and results only. Doing so puts the emphasis on meeting targets and places a high value on productivity and achievements which sounds great. However, understand that it can become stressful, so consider and define what “results” means. Consider including the process, partnerships, and even quality into the definition.

2. Balancing Quantitative and Qualitative Measures

Consider adding qualitative data such as feedback from peers and customers that provide valuable insight into areas such as partnership, communication and strategic thinking abilities. This will complement the tangible data on performance and provide a more comprehensive evaluation of performance.

3. Fostering Accountability and Transparency

Providing individuals and teams with specific metrics to assess their performance gives them a better understanding of their responsibilities and progress. Providing goals that align to objectives helps them understand how their efforts can contribute to success and provides purpose and focus.

4. Impact on Collaboration and Team Dynamics

The introduction of performance metrics can, in some cases, create competition among team members. An excessive focus on individual results may hinder collaboration and teamwork, so aim to strike a balance by implementing shared goals across the department or team.

5. Promoting Recognition and Reward System

When expectations are set for performance, celebrating accomplishments can reinforce positive behavior, boost morale, and foster a culture of appreciation and motivation.

6. Encouraging Continuous Improvement

Operational performance metrics encourage continuous improvement which promotes a mindset of growth, innovation and leads to actively seeking opportunities to learn and develop. In addition, having the ability to improve the work has a direct impact on the team. This is ownership at its best.

7. Addressing Bias and Unintended Consequences

Monitor your performance measures to ensure they align with cultural values and desired outcomes. Are you noticing your performance metrics are encouraging specific behaviors that you did not intend? For example, is there a bias to focus on larger accounts? If so, you may not need to adjust the performance metrics, you may need to define the goal or target to be more balanced.

The cultural impact that performance metrics have on a team are significant. Remember, these impacts may be largely unspoken, but as leaders it is important to understand the implications of these metrics and proactively shape the culture to align with your business values and long-term objectives. It starts by carefully designing and implementing your operational performance measures.