Successful businesses embrace the idea that they need to engage staff to achieve key performance indicators (KPIs). Strengths and weaknesses can be found with these clear gauges as well as where any gaps exist within talent or structure. The process begins with setting clear goals and objectives that align with the company’s long-term business strategy.

Set a clear direction with a business plan. Then, by setting clear goals, providing feedback, and recognising successes and failures, you can create an environment that encourages employees to reach their KPIs. This will help your team to strive for excellence and ultimately, increase the chances of reaching business objectives.

If you’re not having much luck with KPIs and you’re struggling to get your team on board with them, there may be a deeper issue. First, we need to look at why KPIs exist.

What KPIs are and why we need them

Key Performance Indicators are the measures an organisation uses to monitor how well it’s doing. They’re used to indicate an organisation’s progress towards its goals. Additionally, KPIs are used to evaluate the performance of a department, division or individual employee.

Equipped with this intelligence, managers are able to assess whether their team is meeting its objectives. Therefore, they can engage staff to achieve key performance indicators. Essentially, KPIs provide a method for identifying areas of improvement if performance falls short of expectations, or to celebrate success.

The KPIs you choose can have a big impact on how successful your organisation is. The right ones will help you achieve business goals, while ineffective ones can distract from these goals.

Best practice KPIs are those that align with your company’s overall strategy and help to drive growth and profitability. They’re also simple enough for everyone who works for your organisation to understand them. This means that anyone from junior staff members to senior executives can use them as part of their day-to-day work activities.

With the correct KPIs in place, you’ll be able to guide and advise your employees, improve morale, develop your employees professionally, improve training, boost customer satisfaction, cultivate customer and employee loyalty, and create a positive working environment.

Why your team isn’t achieving their KPIs

If your team is failing to fulfil their KPIs, it’s likely it’s not a them-problem. Many factors contribute to this all too common issue that means you’re failing to engage staff to achieve key performance indicators.

Plenty of businesses set KPIs for the sake of producing figures and measurements with no rhyme or reason behind them. Without a ‘why’, KPIs are destined not to be met. How can you expect your team to achieve them without empowering them with knowledge or passion?

Your team may be failing to meet your metrics because they were put in place without considering the organisation’s overall business goals. It could be that the business has outgrown its current KPIs and the business plan is no longer relevant. It might be that they’re too ambitious or too basic. Or it might even be that a case of overlooking or undervaluing is at play.

Here’s what you need to mull over before setting KPIs that work.

Understand your business goals

A review of your business goals could be where you discover the problem. KPIs should always reflect what the business aims to achieve. They should filter down from the overarching aim of the organisation, through to management’s KPIs, to department KPIs, and to individual employee KPIs.

For example, if you want to increase turnover by next year, what will it take to achieve that? What will your management team need to achieve in order for the business smash this target? And what will the rest of your staff need to achieve in order for your management team to deliver results? If you are unclear on numbers, this is often evident in key deliverables.

That one big, hairy, audacious goal should be imprinted on every brain in your organisation, recited daily, and echoed throughout the company. That way, you’ll produce KPIs that make sense.

Review your company’s growth

It’s likely that your organisation is not the same as it was three years ago, or even just one year ago. In such turbulent times, it might not even be the same as it was six months ago. Your KPIs should evolve with your business.

A KPI could have been set a year ago to measure how long it takes an employee to produce a piece of work, for example. The aim might have been to decrease time spent on those particular types of project. Every quarter, review data and analyse the data. Has there been any change? Are employees taking significantly less time now? Or are the results still the same?

When a KPI is being consistently achieved with no complaints or errors, it’s time to adjust. Perhaps you want the projects to take even less time? Or you may be satisfied that your team is well equipped to handle those projects now and want to completely change the KPI.

However, if a KPI is still not being met, it’s important to understand why. Does your team need more training in a certain area? Are they overdelivering? It’s also vital to involve your team in discussions around it. You might find that they’re passionate about producing work to a certain standard and they may overdelivering, costing you time and resources.

If you’re not the person working on those projects, perhaps you don’t understand the level of work that goes into them? Perhaps this KPI was more about understanding your employees than it was about churning out more work.

Assess the achievability of KPIs

It’s far too common that KPIs are applied to teams that either don’t stand a chance of achieving them, or are too consistently overachieving them.

When an employee is asked to achieve a certain metric by someone and who doesn’t work in their role, they need to be able to trust that what is asked of them is reasonable. Is there sufficient knowledge and understanding behind the KPIs? How can management expect results when they don’t fully understand their teams’ roles or the services they provide?

A team that isn’t achieving could be a misunderstood one. You need a deep level of understanding about your team’s abilities, challenges, and motivations. Getting to know your team and including them in the setting of KPIs is essential.

A KPI that is too ambitious and unrealistic will cause an employee to feel like a failure before they’ve even begun. Eventually, they’ll become an unmotivated and disengaged team. On the other hand, when a KPI is not ambitious at all, an employee can feel uninspired and unfulfilled.

Both result in a deflated team.

Value your employees’ input

Teams that are not included in the setting of KPIs can feel overlooked and undervalued. A positive culture is crucial. Collaboration between management and employees is essential. Employees feel valued, seen and heard when they’re included in meetings and are made aware of the company’s goals and future plans.

Involve employees on a team and individual level to help set KPIs. Dedicate time for an in-depth meeting to come together, share information on the business plan and display the organisation’s goals. You might find that your staff have no idea what the business aims to achieve. In which case, how can they be expected to care?

When they understand where the company sees itself in a specific amount of time – and when they understand the importance of their role in achieving this goal – they can help you set clear, ambitious, yet reasonable KPIs.

How to engage and motivate for KPI success

Here are some factors to look into to be able to create a workplace that achieves.


If you want your employees to take ownership of their KPIs, you need to create a culture where people feel valued and listened to. Ensure your staff are engaged and feel like they can make a difference by contributing ideas and suggestions. When employees feel like they’re part of something bigger than themselves, it inspires and drives an energy level that anything is possible.


Rather than telling, discuss. Why do we need these KPIs? What impact will they have on our bottom line? How does it benefit them personally? Why should they care about this? These questions need answering before you can expect anyone else in your team to get behind them and start owning them.


KPI reporting motivates teams by presenting what they’re successfully achieving. Visual evidence and a clear company dashboard is most impactful when it comes to showing your teams their progress. Use pie charts, bar charts, and infographics to show them how they’re doing and how the company is progressing.


One of the most common ways to motivate a team is by offering rewards in return for meeting certain targets. For example, if your team hits its sales target this month, it becomes a win/win. Both parties gain.


Giving staff more control and accountability over their work schedule encourages them to be more productive. Each person has personal responsibility over what is required and when.

To conclude

To engage staff to achieve key performance indicators, you need to take a step back and analyse what’s important for your business. This might be company vision, sales targets, profitability or customer satisfaction ratings. You can then measure these metrics across the organisation on a regular basis, and see where you need to focus your efforts.

Once you’ve identified the key performance indicators (KPIs) for your team, it’s time to start thinking about how you can motivate them to achieve those KPIs.

Remember that failing to meet KPIs often isn’t a reflection of your employees’ ability. It’s more often a case that the company lacks clear direction. Or it could be that there are unclear and unrealistic expectations, a lack of knowledge and understanding, silos, or a lack of communications within your teams.