How Effective Managers Use Dashboards
Management is a balance of getting those under you to work well, while getting those above you to understand how well that work is going. Dashboards help with both. Using some of the most prevalent principles of effective management as our guide, we put together a list of how business dashboards can be used to improve management:
Effective communication is arguably the most important skill of a manager, yet two-thirds of managers are uncomfortable communicating with employees. This can prove to be problematic, as leaders need to be able to communicate their vision to boost employee productivity, engagement, and collaboration. When employees are unclear about the vision of the company, or even what is going on in their own department, they can quickly become dissatisfied.
That’s why managers need to prioritize getting to know their employees, interacting with them on a personal level, and showing their investment by following these communication tips:
- Set up regular meetings
- Conduct one-on-ones
- Keep your door open (with an accompanying “open-door-policy”)
- Send weekly memos, announcements, and deadlines
Each department within an organization has their own unique communication challenges. Dashboards are a great tool for those teams who have a harder time making it to meetings and setting up time for face-to-face discussion. We have found that IT departments, for example, often do not have regular communication with their supervisors. Therefore, tech operations teams benefit from dashboards that can track their work order activities across different regions and issues. This IT management dashboard example provides an at-a-glance view of the team’s productivity, as well as their progress towards reaching important goals and benchmarks:
Business dashboards are a fun and engaging way to deliver live data to your employees. More importantly, however, they deliver that data through colorful, interactive, and customizable charts and graphs. This makes the data easier to understand so employees can see key performance indicators (KPIs), company goals, and how their individual efforts are affecting the bottom line.
Transparency is the key to establishing trust and increasing leadership effectiveness. As a manager, you should strive to be as clear and direct as possible. In fact, transparency has been proven to increase employee accountability, lead to efficient workplaces, and boost corporate reputation to attract quality job candidates.
One organization that has seen success with their strong commitment to transparency is St. Joseph Mercy Health System. They met their transparency goals by setting up LCD monitors in each medical/surgical unit that display dashboards that update in real-time.
These dashboards provide the frontline staff with information on patient placement, capacity, patient transport, bed clean turnaround, patient satisfaction, and more. This makes staff members much more efficient and engaged because they no longer have to search for this information. Instead, they can focus on tending to their patients and improving those numbers. When employees can engage and interact with your data, they bond with your organization on a whole new level.
Much of a manager’s focus needs to be on results and improvements. However, it can be difficult for employees to improve without hearing feedback from their supervisors. Feedback provides a crucial opportunity for employees to improve their skills and performance. Part of being a manager is coaching your team members on what they need to improve and praising them for what they are doing well.
Great managers ask their employees to take ownership of their successes and failures. To promote accountability, set up regular meetings with your employees to provide feedback and advice. On average, only 15% of employees who work for a manager who does not meet with them regularly are engaged, while managers who regularly meet with their employees almost triple that level of engagement.
During these meetings, you will need to rely on data to provide relevant and constructive feedback. Using business dashboards, you can point to specific metrics that need improvement and explain how they can reach their goals. Data-driven managers who want to make sure their feedback is specific, functional, and concrete may want to consider using the “Core Feedback” model for these meetings:
- Context: Focus on an event or a behavior you observed, rather than providing a general or vague comment.
- Observation: State what you observed in a concrete way. Explain the data behind your observation, as well as possible other interpretations.
- Result: Let your employee know what the larger impact of their actions and behaviors are on the business and/or other employees.
- Expectations: Work with your employee to establish appropriate goals for the future. Provide them with an opportunity to check-in on their progress using a dashboard or other form of data visualization. Gauge charts work well when it comes to visualizing progress towards a goal.
Motivation is the key to keeping your employees happy and engaged. Dashboards can be used to strike a balance between both types of motivation:
- Intrinsic Motivation: Internal motivation that drives employees to do a great job, even when there is nothing on the line and no one is watching.
- Extrinsic Motivation: External motivation that lets employees know their contributions to the team and company are valued.
Sharing important metrics and KPIs with your employees creates a sense of belonging and builds psychological ownership, which is a strong intrinsic motivator for employees. Psychological ownership happens when someone feels a sense of ownership their job or company. They feel a sense of pride associated with their workplace. Business dashboards allow every member of your team access to the metrics that influence their jobs on a daily basis. When employees see the direct relationship between their efforts and the success of their company, they are intrinsically motivated to achieve.
However, when it comes to extrinsic motivators, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Your team is made up of individuals with their own preferences, and its up to you to determine what will be the most effective way to reward someone for their hard work and/or exceptional performance. These rewards can be anything from a monetary bonus, treating them to lunch, or something as simple as verbal recognition. This shows your team that hard work is rewarded and makes the recipient of the praise feel good.
Keeping your rewards consistent is the key to effective motivation. Use a dashboard to track your individual employees’ progress alongside benchmarks you’d like for them to hit. You can publicize this dashboard if you think that will offer additional motivation, or simply use it to stay organized. If you are consistent about recognizing hard work, your employees will have a larger commitment to the tasks at hand and feel a greater attachment to the company’s success. If you are inconsistent, however, some employees could think that you are playing favorites and end up feeling more discouraged than motivated.