Does Your Organization’s “Magic Metric” Include Employee Recognition?

123RF Stock Photo
123RF Stock Photo

In Fistful of Talent last week, Steve Gifford tackled the ever-present topic of (my take) “what metric should we use to measure employee productivity/performance in terms everyone in the business cares about?”

It’s that last part of the question that’s most intriguing to me – in terms everyone in the business cares about. There are seemingly countless posts, articles, discussions, and even twitter chats, around the science of HR metrics and reporting. The art lies in finding a metric that is meaningful and clear to everyone from a line employee, to a manager in any department, to the C-suite.

Steve calls this the “magic metric,” which should be (quoting):

  • Created and tracked by someone outside of HR. When you call up someone in ops and ask them why it’s high or low, it can’t be something that only you can see in the HRIS. You’ll notice that I had to explain an awful lot about my business for each of these metrics – that’s a good thing.
  • Objective. Managers have favorites, and have excuses for those favorites.
  • Timely. Management by P&L is necessary, but if you only rely on a P&L, your managers will only know that they had an issue a month and a half later when the books close. Find something that you or managers can react to soon after it happens
  • Something which the employee can personally impact. No one likes to be held accountable for things they didn’t do. If the customer added to the specification at the last minute, the project manager can’t get dinged for missing the old deadline.
  • Tied to profitability. I’m thrilled that when customers call the 800 number, they always give your store 5 out of 5. However, if those 5’s don’t translate into increased revenues, we’re going to have a hard time keeping the doors open so we can keep those customers happy.

The benefits of peer-to-peer recognition

All good points on a metric that matters. I suggest a metric that meets all of these requirements in a positive way is employee recognition based on your core company values.

Think about it: If you create a strategic recognition system in which any employee can recognize any other – specifically and in real-time – for demonstrating your core values in their work, you can quickly see who is delivering on what you leaders have defined as most critical to your organization culture and success.

Creating peer-to-peer recognition programs makes them objective. Encouraging recognition in-the-moment makes it timely. There is little the employee can impact more than their own behaviors based on the core values.

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Properly defined, the values are close integrated with the strategic objectives for success. And while HR may be the group tagged with providing the employee recognition program at first, creating a culture of recognition and appreciation is the responsibility of every employee.

What’s your magic metric? Do you agree recognition done right suits?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


3 Comments on “Does Your Organization’s “Magic Metric” Include Employee Recognition?

  1. My magic metric is to understand the reasons why people are happy. 

    Recogintion drives happiness and happiness for whatever reason makes the workplace more productive.  Happiness is a mental state that has to be achieved each day.  Managers should spend more time finding out what makes their people happy and then do more of that around the workplace.  A manager should find out what type of recognition people enjoy.  Is it public? Is it private recognition? Perhaps they enjoy recognition via social media?

    I can’t wait to hear what others have to say on this topic.

    1. Excellent points, Ben. Are you familiar with the Chief Happiness Officer, Alexander Kjerulf? He writes regularly on happiness at work at his blog: and in his book “Happy Hour is 9 to 5.” I enjoy both greatly and think you may as well.

    2. Couple good points here.  First you need to know what motivates individuals, it is not always the same thing for everyone.  Then as a leader you need to show that recognizing is important.  You have to build that culture and it can take time, if you stop because you feel you are not getting results you will stop too soon.  You then also recruit for those that live on recognition.  The more you build the culture the more productive and happy the workplace becomes.

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