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What Is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI)? Definition, Resources, and 1000+ Examples

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“If you aim at nothing, you will hit it every time.” — Zig Ziglar

When the cost of managing and measuring your performance is less than the tragic risk of hitting nothing, it pays to get your KPIs right.

KPIs, or key performance indicators, can prove that success is a result of not just one huge undertaking but a series of actions. These actions are taken by decision-makers that consistently rely on data rather than guesswork.

In this guide, you will learn the basics and benefits of KPIs and beyond. Explore the top articles, webinars, reports, and other materials produced by The KPI Institute, a leading global research institute specializing in business performance and KPI research for over 17 years.

Topics include:

  • What Is a Key Performance Indicator?
  • Why Companies Should Use KPIs
  • KPI Examples
  • Applying the KPI Best Practices
  • The KPI Measurement Framework

What Is a Key Performance Indicator?

The definition of a KPI, according to The KPI Institute, is “a measurable expression for the achievement of a desired level of results in an area relevant to the evaluated entity’s activity.”

13 Elements of a Good Key Performance Indicator

“If a decision support system is put in place, users need the right data granularity and the guidelines or context for making the right decisions. All of these reasons have an underlying story, and top-performing organizations are able to clearly communicate that story to their employees.”

[Watch] The Relationship Between Strategic Objectives, KPIs, and Initiatives

“As performance management & measurement is shaping up as a fundamental capability for organizations across the globe, there are still multiple challenges to be overcome.”

Why Companies Should Use KPIs

Top Six Reasons to Start Using Key Performance Indicators

“Nowadays, the challenge is not about accessing information, as most companies are managing large volumes of data. The challenge is to decide which data is the most important for decision making.”

[Listen] Performance Management and KPIs: Past, Present, & Future

“What have been some of the changes that the Performance Management field has experienced over time? What are some one-size-fits-all style KPIs that any company can employ?”

[Watch] Winning with KPIs: Optimizing PMS Implementation

Discover the role of KPIs in designing a rigorous Performance Management System (PMS) to ensure an optimized implementation across all organizational levels.

KPI Examples

Applying the KPI Best Practices

[Watch] Key Performance Indicators: The Core of Performance Management Systems

Compare KPIs and other performance evaluation criteria, identify the common KPI pitfalls, and discover how to use KPIs to create synergies between departments.

How Can We Ensure Our KPIs Are Aligned With the Strategy?

“In many cases, the key performance indicators (KPIs) monitored do not seem relevant as they are not connected to the strategy. To better understand how this problem can be addressed, we must first identify its possible causes.”

[Watch] Overcoming KPI Selection Challenges: Applying KPI Selection Techniques

“What are the most important guidelines to follow when selecting KPIs for strategic objectives? What are the most efficient KPI Selection techniques, most recommended KPI selection environments, and some Value Flow Analysis technique examples?”

The KPI Measurement Framework

How to Implement a KPI Measurement Framework

“A KPI implementation project plan provides a structure for the implementation of an organization’s performance management system. Once the project plan is set, all types of activities would have a clear deadline and designated responsibilities.”

Project Plan: Developing a Performance Management System Based on KPIs

“When formalizing and implementing a performance management system (PMS) based on key performance indicators (KPIs), there are multiple activities to be considered and many stakeholders to be engaged in the process. Therefore, you’ll need a project plan to make performance management an ongoing process within your organization.”

How Can You Improve the Data Gathering Process for Your KPIs?

“An important component of performance measurement is represented by the data collection capability. However, when applied in the organizational context, this process is neither easy nor lacking obstacles, as practitioners often discover.”

[Watch] KPI Selection Techniques

“Learn how KPI selection techniques can be implemented in practice and gain insights into the best practices for selecting KPIs.”

Advice on KPI Selection

“KPI selection is a process which seems simple, yet is inherently complex, due to the interdependencies involved. Here are 15 things to consider before embarking on this journey.”

How Can You Improve Key Performance Indicator Reporting?

“Just reporting performance data will not ensure the improvement of results. Improvement is only possible when decisions are made based on the insights provided by data.”

KPIs are not just about understanding and working with numbers. Using KPIs requires stakeholders to fulfill a vision and commit to ensuring success across all levels of their organization. If you would like to learn how to select the right KPIs for your organization, sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner live online course today.

ICTs in the Workplace: Understanding Techno-stress and Its Solutions

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Technology shapes patterns of human activity in every aspect of life. Undoubtedly, the transformative impact of digital technology requires individuals, businesses, and organizations to constantly adapt to new systems and applications to use them effectively and mitigate risks related to techno-stress creators.

Digital Technologies in the Professional Environment

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are essential to the workplace. Organizations are dependent on digital technology. Work-related use of ICTs offers a myriad of benefits to organizations, provides organizations with opportunities to optimize business processes, improves efficiency and productivity, reduces costs, shapes the patterns of information processing and innovation patterns, and assists a wide range of online services.

Moreover, work-related usage of ICTs can positively impact job performance and virtual team effectiveness. ICTs provide continuous connectivity. Colleagues can easily communicate without restraints of location and time. In parallel with the advances in ICTs, telecommuting has become increasingly prevalent around the world. Consequently, not having to commute has reduced the costs and time spent in traveling.

The impact of digital technology in professional environments on work practices and habits manifests in work performance, how employees connect, and how they think and act. Despite numerous advantages created by the effective use of ICTs, there can also be challenges and negative outcomes. The human brain’s cognitive performance and attentional behaviors are affected by being exposed to information technologies.

Challenges

ICT-induced challenges in professional environments are referred to as techno-stressors. Being constantly available and techno-overload can cause techno-stress, and they are usually associated with the work-related use of ICTs.

Advances in ICTs allow for constant connectivity and work independent of time and location. In this context, employees may find separating work and non-work life difficult. Techno-invasion due to work-related ICTs after working hours makes employees vulnerable elevated levels of work stress, diminished work performance, and life invasion. Additionally, always-on work culture and constant connectivity make employees feel forced to be available and easily reached via e-mail, the Internet, or mobile devices. Consequently, employees tend to work longer due to ICTS-induced expectations for faster response and dealing with multiple tasks simultaneously.

Techno-overload occurs when employees get occupied with too many different tasks simultaneously or are constantly interrupted by ICT applications. As a result, they may feel obliged to work faster and more due to increasing demands and expectations.

The impact of digital technology on attentional behaviors steams from its design. Through the multi-windows design, users can navigate through several folders, documents, programs, and browser tabs that are simultaneously open. This multi-windows design translates into switching attention between multiple activities in a short period. In other words, technology-induced multitasking results in attentional switching.

Similarly, due to mobile devices and collaborative workspace chat and videoconferencing applications, employees face a multitude of interruptions and streams of real-time information that may foster information overload and fragmentation of attention, making maintaining attention on the task at hand difficult.

The main problems associated with techno-stressors include leading to attentional and cognitive deficits, provoking anxiety, fatigue, and low performance.

Virtual Meeting Fatigue

As a new popular term, Zoom fatigue has become widely used to describe emotional, psychological, and physical lack of energy resulting from spending too much time in front of screens while video conferencing. Video conferencing fatigue appears to be the new form of techno-stress underlining challenges in adaptation to modern technologies due to overutilization of technology and lack of healthy coping strategies with techno stressors and ICT-induced demands.

There is a set of factors contributing to Zoom fatigue: video conferencing involves different ways of communication with prolonged eye contact, limited non-verbal cues and body gestures, and difficulty in focusing during discussions, and additional cognitive load. Moreover, asynchronicity of communication is listed among contributing factors that lead to increased cognitive efforts, frustration, and stress.

Although advances in ICTs provide organizations with instruments to increase productivity by saving time and energy, studies suggest that overuse of ICTs results in more than  25% of the general working population suffering from fatigue and emotional exhaustion.

Techno-stress leads to lower work performance and productivity, reduced job satisfaction, and organizational commitment. To mitigate such undesired consequences, businesses search for solutions to ease techno-stress. An increasing number of organizations recognize that employee well-being is crucial to high performance and thus integrate well-being initiatives into their work.

Finite Resources

People’s time and attention are finite resources. ICTs can increase productivity in the short term. However, such gains can be undermined by increased cognitive load and lower productivity, performance, and well-being in the long term.

At an individual level, some of the strategies that can be applied to mitigate the overwhelming side effects of excessive ICT use are practicing strategic attention n order to reduce loss of time and the fragmentation of attention; prioritizing urgent communications and postponing less relevant communications; and utilizing applications to organize information storage and block distractions.

Finally, individual employees should ensure that they get adequate rest to counter ongoing psychical and emotional exhaustion. Techno-stressors, along with long virtual meetings, can trigger sensory overload. Sensory rest, taking mindful moments of sensory deprivation, can also be helpful.

A Look Into the KPI Selection Workshop Notification

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Designing and implementing a Performance Management System (PMS) based on performance measurement tools such as key performance indicators (KPIs) is a thorough step-by-step process. It requires effective management of all the phases of the implementation process and proper allocation of responsibilities to all the stakeholders involved. With this, the KPI implementation project plan lays emphasis on conducting  KPI selection workshops.

Whether or not the PMS within your organization is comprehensive, KPIs can be measured across organizational layers: Corporate/Organizational, Divisional, Departmental, or Individual/Employee levels in accordance with the organizational context. For these performance indicators to be measured in standardized tools, such as a balanced scorecard, they need to be selected, and such selection should occur during dedicated meetings.

Such meetings require the attendance of specifically allocated stakeholders to provide constructive insights and foster a corporate community culture based on continuous improvement. As a line of practice, the participants of these workshops hold positions, such as department heads, strategists, performance analysts, members of the performance management office, and allocated members of the Board, all based on their availability. Note that other members could attend the workshops as per company practice. Attendance at these important meetings requires an invitation, though.

The invitation is a crucial, pre-workshop phase, as it sets the tone, pace, and mindset of the delegates who will join the event. Such invitation is generally in the form of an email with quite some content and attached materials. The email aims to provide contextualization and reasoning behind the request to certain members of the organization to attend the workshops. It is a request that comes from the Strategy Office or the Performance Management Office or whoever oversees the Performance Management practices in the organization, at least two to three weeks in advance of the date of the event.

What should be included in the KPI selection workshops invitation?

  • Brief introduction about the upcoming workshop;
  • Logistical information such as date, time, and location of the event;
  • Detailed KPI selection workshop agenda;
  • Reading materials and corporate documentation attached

What are the key documents to be attached to mentally prepare our participants and make this workshop a success?

  1. As a line of practice, it is recommended to share educational materials, prepared by the Performance Management Office, related to KPI selection, KPI Alignment practices, and Performance Measurement and Management tools. The delegates, whether or not they are practitioners in the field, are invited to go through the materials;
  2. Strategic and Performance Management tools linked to previous performance cycles, such as Corporate Strategy Plan, Organizational Scorecards, Dashboards, and Portfolio of Initiatives, must be included.
  3. In certain organizational contexts, a written note from top management and C-Suites may be added in order to highlight one factor: The involvement and support of top management in the design and implementation of the framework. This note could be very beneficial buy-in wise as well.

Setting the right tone and mindset in preparation for the workshop is very much advised. The delegates, especially after the workshops occur, will act as champions in disseminating knowledge and replicating the KPI best practices in their respective departments. Furthermore, it will support the ultimate purpose of securing the much-required buy-in from middle managers and employees across departments towards the PMS design.

If you would like to learn more about KPI selection practices and the follow-up activities to the KPI selection workshops, we kindly invite you to sign up for The KPI Institute’s Certified KPI Professional and Practitioner training course. It will lead you through all the phases of the KPI implementation project plan.

Wishing you the best of performance!

Hygge: Exploring the Danish Concept of Comfort

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Derived from Danish culture, hygge (pronounced as hoo-gah) has become one of the many influential concepts society has today in creating spaces and building community. Looking back to its origins when Denmark and Norway were bounded as a kingdom, hygge actually comes from the Norwegian language that could be translated into “well-being”. In the early 1800s, the Danes adopted it as a concept to refer to “happiness” and it has been embodied in the heart of Danish culture ever since.

What does hygge look like in the present day? Currently, hygge is showing a strong, promising continuity in the 21st century among the Danes and has expanded its reach around the world through popular literature, such as “The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living” by Meik Wiking. There is no strict implementation as the concept itself is embedded in both tangible and intangible aspects of Danish culture. 

On the tangible part, hygge is often associated with the coziness of a place. Its concept of simplicity and its nature as an appreciation for the simple joys in life has become a popular trend in interior and exterior design. It promotes a kind of aesthetic that gives spaces a rustic and homey feeling. Additionally, a 2018 research showed hygge as a principle that can be applied to build a sustainable, smart home due to its low-energy approach.

Meanwhile, the intangible value of hygge lies within social relationships. The Danes are known for their close-knitted relationships with friends and families which encourages equality and strong social circles. In this manner, hygge is not only manifested as a certain decor for social events but also as the sense of belonging resulting from being connected with loved ones.

Developing hygge through social connections

According to The World Happiness Report 2020, Nordic countries are among the happiest countries in the world, including Denmark. One of the reasons for this is their great respect for friendships and relationships with their loved ones. Specifically, the Danes tend to form small social circles with whom they bond and spend their hygge time. The significant level of social and institutional trust contributes to the increase in happiness and reduction of social inequality.

In the context of daily life, hygge is manifested through thoughtfulness in social interactions. This implies that no one competes to get into the center of attention so that everybody receives a fair chance to participate and feel welcomed. Equality and togetherness are the fundamental elements of hygge, and thus, the very heart of Danish culture.

Hygge is embedded in the way people make each other feel comfortable and relaxed. A lot of activities can be done to share the warmth of hygge with your loved ones, even as simple as hanging out after work or having a movie night on the weekend. The idea is to have quality time and make meaningful memories through small things.

Your home can be a good start to build a hygge kind of living. Someone once said that the “home is where love resides, memories are created, friends always belong, and laughter never ends.” Organizing your home in a way that makes others feel comfortable and welcomed is the next aspect of hygge.

Creating a hygge home

The main focus of a hygge home is how to create a hygge-like atmosphere, or a hyggelig as the Danes like to call it. Take a look around your own home and check the space and materials; can you find any sign of hygge? Below are some key aspects worth considering.

  1. Hyggekrog

    Roughly translated as a nook, hyggekrog is an important part of a Danish home. This is basically a reading spot where you can cozy up with a warm blanket, read your favorite book, or relax with a cup of warm beverage. Several seating options are available, with the simplest one being an armchair. If you want to go all-in, you can opt for a sofa bed, corner sofa, or add a nice ottoman to your armchair arrangement.

    There is no fixed location to build a hyggekrog; some might have it in the living room, kitchen, or study room. It would be a plus point if the hyggekrog is placed by the window so you may get a natural ambiance to add to the coziness. You can also spruce the space up with some thick knitted blankets and cushions. Placing a big wooden bookshelf nearby would be a great idea as well to complete the hyggekrog setup.

  2. Lighting

    Lighting is another core aspect of hygge as it centers around aesthetic and sustainable values in being visually pleasing and environmentally friendly. Due to the western origin of hygge, having a fireplace is a crucial component as it not only helps set the mood but is also a necessity for people to survive the cold winter. It is also manifested through the use of natural light, candles, and low-energy electric lighting.

    A fireplace might not be applicable for those living in other parts of the world that don’t have four seasons. An alternative element you can utilize is a candle which is a must-have item to create the perfect hyggelig ambiance. In Denmark, organic candles tend to be preferred over scented ones to preserve the natural simplicity of hygge, but of course, this is subject to personal preference.

  1. Furniture and decoration

    The highlight of hygge decor is the use of natural things such as items made of wood, leaves, and roots. Wooden chairs, plants by the windowsill, and an acorn wreath on the wall are just some examples of how you can make use of such rustic items. They make a perfect pair with candles or a fireplace to amplify the jolly and warm atmosphere, especially for a hyggelig evening with family and friends.

    Vintage items such as ceramics are also often seen in a hygge home. Aside from their aesthetic aspects, vintage items usually hold a sentimental, nostalgic value that elicits happiness by remembering the good old times. You can reuse some old items from your childhood and breathe new life into them as decor, or find something interesting in a nearby vintage shop. On that note, be mindful of your purchase so that it will not end up as clutter.

To conclude, the concept of hygge emphasizes generating happiness through the connection between people and the environment. Appreciating the simple joys of life is the main value that inspires the way the Danes configure their surroundings. Christmas may be a perfect season to apply hygge in your home as you gather with loved ones to celebrate and have a good time. Even if you do not celebrate it, practicing hygge will bring warmth into your house during seasons of warmth and cold, sun and rain, and all year round.

The Four Horsemen of the Romantic Relationship Apocalypse

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Romantic relationships, like any other relationships in life, are important to fulfill one’s needs for intimacy and social connections. However, not all romantic relationships are about rainbows and butterflies. It also goes through periods and stages of development and deterioration. This article will explain The Four Horsemen of romantic relationships – the most common negative patterns and behaviors that might lead to relationships deterioration – and how to avoid and eliminate them.

The Four Horsemen

In Christianity, The Four Horsemen are symbols of the catastrophic effect of destruction that will come to earth at the end of time. They are conquest, war and bloodshed, famine, and death. Dr. John Gottman applies this concept of destruction into a romantic relationship and describes them as negative communication patterns that, if they keep on occurring, might result in a failed or a very unhappy relationship. For Gottman, these are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. 

  • Criticism

    Criticism is the first indicator of a growing problem in a romantic relationship that has the potential to ruin its foundation. According to Merriam-Webster, this is “the act of expressing disapproval and of noting the problems or faults of a person or thing”. It is different from a complaint; a complaint addresses the specific issue while criticism attacks the person’s characteristics. When criticism is omnipresent, it causes the victim to feel abused and hurt; constant criticism will escalate the pattern with increasing frequency and intensity which may lead to the next horseman.

  • Contempt

    The next horseman is contempt which is fueled by the long-simmering of unfavorable feelings and thoughts about a partner and undertaking a position of moral superiority over them. Contempt is the arrogant disdain, denigration, and dismissal of the other’s concerns. It involves sarcasm, name-calling, ridicule, and condescension, among other things. When a person communicates with contempt towards their partner, the receiver is made to feel discounted, despised, and worthless; it erodes self-esteem, confidence, and sense of self.

  • Defensiveness

    Defensiveness is typically a response to criticism. When an individual believes to be wrongfully accused by their partner, they look for justifications and play the innocent victim to get their partner to back off. Although it is normal for a person to protect themselves if they feel attacked, defensiveness might escalate the conflict and issue when the other person does not back down. This is because defensiveness is essentially reverse blaming the other partner, preventing a healthy conflict resolution.

  • Stonewalling

    The last and the fourth horseman is stonewalling or intentionally refusing to communicate. When someone stonewalls, it’s easy to assume that they’re angry, impolite, childish, or just uninterested in interacting with others or the world. Tuning out, turning away, pretending to be busy, or indulging in compulsive or diverting tasks are all examples of stonewalling behaviors.

    More criticism and contempt lead to more defensiveness; eventually, one person will withdraw. The individual who withdraws is usually overwhelmed and begins to shut down as means of self-soothing and calming down. While shutting down during an argument – or sometimes known as the silent treatment – is one method to cope, it can be cruel, irritating, and destructive to the relationship.

The Antidote

The first step to deal with and eliminate the four horsemen is to acknowledge them when they occur. The next step is to replace these unhealthy communication and conflict patterns and behaviors with productive, healthy ones.

  • The “I” statement

    Each partner can express how they feel and think using the “I” statement. This can be accomplished by avoiding the use of the word “you” which can imply blame. Instead, talk about feelings using “I” statements and express what is needed in a positive manner.

  • Appreciation and respect

    Creating a positive perspective in a relationship involves consistently expressing appreciation, gratitude, tenderness, and respect for each other. This will work as a buffer against negative feelings. The more positive one feels towards themselves, their partner, and the relationship, the less likely they are to feel or express contempt.

  • Invest in the Emotional Bank Account

    An Emotional Bank Account is like a financial bank account; instead of depositing or withdrawing money, couples do it with love, affection, and respect through their words and actions. In a six-year follow-up research of newlywed couples by the Gottman Institute, those who stayed married turned to their partner’s attempts for emotional connection 86% of the time in the lab, while those who divorced averaged at 33%. The difference lies in the way they managed their Emotional Bank Account. A way to maintain the balance of the Emotional Bank Account is by following the 5:1 ratio, which entails having five or more positive interactions for every negative interaction, even during disagreement and arguments.

  • Take time outs and self-soothe

    Allowing for timeouts during a conflict can help couples avoid feeling overwhelmed. If it feels like one partner is stonewalling during a conflict, they should stop the discussion and take a break. While taking a break, they should do something else that calms both down. Once both feel ready, the couple can return to the conversation and resolve the conflict in a calmer way.

Every relationship is not perfect. Each person’s actions and attitude toward it define and predict the health and success of the relationship. By acknowledging and working towards eliminating these horsemen, couples can progress towards building a deeply meaningful relationship that is full of trust and intimacy.

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