In the second year of my role at Popeyes, trust with our franchise owners remained low, data for decision-making was still limited and consistent positive sales results were not yet evident. My team and I were sitting in a meeting with skeptical franchise leaders, debating the performance results of the June promotion event. We had fielded our first aggressive price promotion on our famous Popeyes chicken – and discounting the core menu was not a popular idea.
One of our veteran owners said, “That promotion nearly bankrupted the entire Popeyes system.” I listened carefully before I responded, then I said, “Actually, that promotion delivered the highest monthly absolute profits our restaurants have seen.” The owner said, “How do you know?” And I said, “Because we now have actual restaurant P&Ls for over 1,000 Popeyes restaurants.” And he smiled and said, “Well, then you know.”
Milestones and measures create the conditions for people to do their best work.
“You move what you measure.”
Today I am watching a PGA golf tournament with my husband. There is a young, talented golfer in the lead. This golfer has set courageous goals for himself. He has worked diligently to train in the sport and has held himself accountable for progress. Today he is competing publicly, and the outcome will determine where he ranks in the sport of golf. Only if he wins by having the lowest score of all the competitors, will he receive a trophy and the accolades of success.
Why would it be any different in leadership?
When you begin leading a team, establishing clear milestones and measures is job one – goals are set, aspirations are established, the destination is defined for the people. For this leader, this stage requires courage. The goals must be a balance of bold and plausible to motivate the team. Goals that will stretch the team to perform, yet not seem hopeless to attain.
As the journey begins, the milestones and measures hold the team and the leader accountable. Your efforts either improve the numbers or you need to adjust the plan. Without numbers, we can all hide behind excuses like “we worked hard” or “we did the best we could.” But the numbers don’t lie.
Every work team is responsible to someone – a group of people counting on you to get the job done. Whether it is the boss, the owner, the shareholder, the bank – all of us have people we serve with our performance results. When we state the milestones and measures upfront – and then report out on our results. We are truth-tellers to those that count on us.
And finally, our milestones and measures determine how we win and what we celebrate. The rewards and words of appreciation depend on beating the goals. Just like the winner of a sports competition, we want our team to go home with the trophy.
Let’s set measures and milestones which serve the people well.