The Solution: Create a Scoreboard That Builds Trust & Production

Sep 7, 2022 | Strategy & Execution

The right scoreboard will facilitate meaningful progress that increases team satisfaction. Our managers and management systems shouldn’t be reduced to task managers. Systems like Salesforce and the managers using them should be employed to manage progress. When we use systems as an objective scoreboard, the system can deliver positive progress with less tension and burnout.

Clarity + Progress + Impact = Motivation / Fulfillment

Have you ever reached the end of a day, or week, feeling like you just survived your workplace more than thrived? You chased one urgent task after another just to end up not able to articulate your progress on key goals. This feeling not only exists in our culture, but this overworked, constantly busy persona seems to be our “ideal worker.” Nowhere in that description do we find the concept of results, but instead busyness on its own creates an aura of scarcity and value.

This behavior shouldn’t be celebrated, both Greek mythology and Dante relegate effort without progress to punishment in the afterlife. Zeus cursed Sisyphus to roll a rock up a hill forever without completion and Dante subjects indulgent, impulsive people to chase the wind forever. These may seem drastic, but they prove that we, as humans, understand busyness without progress oppresses our spirit. We know this, and yet, we subject our workers to this “sustained moment of hecticness.” Behavioral scientists call this Tunneling, and the president of ideas42 explains: “Tunneling is no longer something that happens by accident, it’s a condition that workers are forced into by standard management practices.”

How do we break this mold?

Can we help elevate our people beyond conversations about how many emails sit in their inbox, or their lack of sleep due to constantly urgent tasks at work? Constructing the right type of scoreboard isn’t the magic bullet, but it will lead to more clarity around true progress. With the right principles and visibility, we can build a results-based workplace. We owe it to our teams to prioritize work accomplished over busyness endured.

Clarity

We take for granted that a professional sports teams whole-heartedly understand the game they’re playing and how to win. In business we love to over-complicate, but chasing this sports metaphor, we often walk into the arena lacking alignment on these foundational premises. It shouldn’t be surprising when our team spins into burnout and resentment.

How do we construct scoreboards that increase joy and mattering for our teams? We must get back to the basics to define what makes a scoreboard a scoreboard. As we reviewed last week, a scoreboard tracks meaningful progress toward winning. Establishing what leads to winning, begins with defining the rules and goals of the game. We can’t even begin until we all understand what we’re trying to achieve and the constraints, or rules, of the game we’re playing.

Reaching alignment on the highest priorities and elevating those priorities above our cultural noise will always take the most time and effort, but we need to stop skipping this foundational step.

Progress

Do you remember playing games in PE class at school? In preparing for this article, I kept thinking of the joy kids have when a coach says: “Ok, set up the cones, let’s scrimmage.” Why are we so much more excited to play a game than continue drills? Mechanically, we’re still dribbling and kicking, but the motivation moved from external to internal.

I’m not sure psychology has a complete answer to why we crave winning and achievement. Regardless, we all know it. The first thing we do is set a goal when starting a diet, joining a gym, or planning for retirement. The energy kids express when switching to scrimmage should be the energy we aim for in making progress visible in our teams.

Impact

Reaching alignment on priorities and establishing meaningful progress on those priorities as our visible measure of success all aim to cultivate more production and flow in our teams. Adam Grant speaks to the value of flow state and production. He adds a level: Mattering. “While mastery and mindfulness can get you into a flow state, mattering – knowing you make a difference to other people – is what catapults the experience to peak flow.” In this context, Grant highlights the need for focused work, but this concept of mattering encompasses all our work.

Conclusion

The simple implication of a well-constructed scoreboard is this: managers can acknowledge success and contribution while the scoreboard does the work of critical feedback.

The scoreboard is the ultimate feedback. We can focus on problem-solving instead of critique because each employee knows the score already. Even though each player has different roles and supportive statistics, the score that matters is always on the board. Clarify expectations, track real progress, and acknowledge impact to build trust and fulfillment in your teams.

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