How to Super Charge Your Execution with SuperGreen

By Jessica Wishart

dateTue, Aug 25, 2015 @ 09:00 AM

Those of you who are familiar with our Rhythm methodology know that we teach that establishing clear and specific success criteria for KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and Priorities each quarter is key for strong execution. In fact, this is often the weakest link for many of our new clients. Many of them are already doing great coming up with solid strategies and a decent set of annual and quarterly priorities that are aligned to achieve the strategic goals. Where they fall short is the clarity around what success (and failure) looks like for each of the important KPIs and Priorities that they are working on. 

And, if this critical step of establishing Red-Yellow-Green success criteria is left out of your planning session, then you may think you are right on track to achieve your goals for the quarter while others on your team think you are falling far behind. Lack of clarity and agreement on what you’re trying to achieve sets everyone up for miscommunication and missed goals as the quarter progresses.

For most, it is pretty easy to understand the purpose and benefit of Red-Yellow-Green:

  • Green - This is your goal; this is what success looks like at the end of the quarter.
  • Yellow - Somewhere between Red and Green; it is important to have some kind of a buffer here - a warning sign that things might not go as planned.
  • Red - This is failure; this is the level of unacceptable performance. Patrick describes Red as a gift because if you clearly communicate what failure looks like, people will try very hard to manage themselves away from Red.

But, it is not always as clear to new clients why we have the fourth category of criteria - SuperGreen. We say that SuperGreen is a stretch goal, like getting extra credit in school. Why is this important to discuss and document? Isn’t it enough to describe success for the quarter? 

Here are a few ways that the power of SuperGreen can supercharge your execution:

  • Setting a stretch goal is motivating for your A-Players. We all have people on our team who are over-achievers. If they see a clearly defined way to go above and beyond, you bet they’ll strive for it. In fact, they need a challenging goal to stay motivated and achieve their best work.
  • Having SuperGreen prevents overly ambitious leaders from setting goals that are too high. If you are setting your Green criteria and think, “Gee - wouldn’t it be awesome if we hit this number that we’ve never hit before?”, that’s most likely a SuperGreen goal, not a Green goal. Your Green goal should always be something that your team can realistically achieve in the timeframe allotted. Having SuperGreen lets you dream big about what you’d love to see the team accomplish without demoralizing everyone by setting an impossible goal for Green.
  • SuperGreen KPIs and Priorities allow you to look for opportunities to scale bright spots. Sometimes SuperGreen status is just a victory - a chance to congratulate a team member on outstanding performance, super-human effort, and a tremendous result. Other times, a SuperGreen status could be what Patrick calls a bright spot. Bright spots are victories that can be scaled across the department. For example, if one of your sales representatives has been SuperGreen on their numbers for weeks, they might have stumbled across some way of doing things that can be replicated by other sales representatives. If you can have a discussion about that SuperGreen status and find out what that rep is doing differently and then have the other reps do the same, you can scale the bright spot and SuperGreen your overall number for sales. SuperGreen is a way to put a spotlight on innovative ideas or new ways of doing things that can make a huge impact on your whole organization if you stop and figure out the bright spot that you can scale.

Hopefully, you’re convinced that it is worth the few extra minutes of thought at the beginning of the quarter to lay out your success criteria, including your SuperGreen stretch goal, for each KPI and Priority on your dashboard. Doing this can set you up for achieving amazing results!

Jessica Wishart


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