Your Post-Pandemic Workforce: Trends In Hiring & Retaining Top Talent

This Knowledge Partner session sponsored by Qualifacts + Credible took place on August 24, 2021 at The 2021 OPEN MINDS Management Best Practices Institute. In the post pandemic job market, many employers are finding it difficult to hire and retain staff. Even before COVID-19, there was a shortage of behavioral health care professionals which has been exacerbated by the pandemic. The uncertainty of this past year has also changed what many employees want from their place of employment. Participants discussed what factors are impacting employees’ decisions when considering new opportunities and how to improve employee retention.
Speakers:
Holly Carman
Compliance Manager, Qualifacts + Credible
Paul Duck Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS

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Addressing Social Determinants As A Path To Revenue Growth

By Monica E. Oss

Over the last 15 years, there have been many pilot projects by payers, health plans, and public and private entities to address social determinants of health (SDOH). In the past couple years, we’ve heard from several health plan executives about their SDOH initiatives (see Mind, Body, Community: Kaiser Permanente’s Unique ApproachInnovation: Tag, You’re It‘Leaning In’ To Medicare: Social Needs OpportunitiesWill Investing In Social Determinants Pay OffHousing = Health: The Five Levers, and Medicaid Wants More Than Health: Be Prepared For Contract Changes). We’ve seen many new SDOH program launches by health plans—UnitedHealthcare’s recent Empowering Health grants, Humana’s Bold Goals program, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shields of New Jersey’s Neighbors in Health program, and North Carolina Medicaid’s Healthy Opportunities Pilots, to name just a few. And there are the requirements to address SDOH under new Medicaid managed care contracts in a number of states (see Medicaid Authorities & Options To Address Social Determinants Of Health).

For specialty provider organizations, the question is how to address SDOH—and find a funding stream to do just that. Previously, we outlined the two paths to adding social service supports and supports coordination to traditional service lines. One way is to add a social supports coordination element that will get more referrals or improve reimbursement under value-based reimbursement arrangements—and pay for itself as an enhanced service feature with more total revenue for existing services. The other way is to build social supports programs that health plans or government payers will reimburse—and build a new revenue stream. Whatever option an executive team chooses, return-on-investment analysis is key. I wrote recently about our six-step model for assessing the effectiveness (both proactively and in practice) of enhanced social service programming in Building An ROI For Social Service Referrals.

We heard two great case studies of provider organizations that are taking the second path— building service lines for social services with payer/health plan revenue—during the session, Incorporating Social Determinants Of Health Into Your Practice To Improve Patient Outcomes & Increase Reimbursement at last week’s 2021 OPEN MINDS Management Best Practices Institute (session recordings and decks are available at https://openminds.com/live-mbpi/sessions/ until September 27). June Simmons, President and Chief Executive Officer of Partners in Care Foundation and Karin Annerhed-Harris, Vice President, Business Development at Resources for Human Development (RHD), shared how they are working with health plans on unique initiatives to address SDOH for complex consumers.

June Simmons, President & CEO, Partners In Care Foundation

Partners in Care Foundation builds community networks to provide a single point of access for consumers. Partners in Care contracts with health plans—and sometimes with health systems—to provide care management and home and community-based social services. Their goal is to integrate all community health resources and supports into a seamless delivery system for easy access and management. Ms. Simmons said, “If you’re just referring Ms. Smith to go down the street where they provide meals, it’s one thing. But if you’re paying for something, it’s a whole new paradigm. And sometimes you’re going to have to pay for care coordination and concrete services on a targeted basis.”

Partners contracted with Blue Shield of California (BSC) in 2014 to provide SDOH services to BSC consumers through primary care practices. BSC pays Partners for specialized staff—community health advocates (CHAs)—who are trained and supervised by PIC, and embedded in medical practices. To date, Partners has trained and placed 70 CHAs in three years. CHAs assess and analyze consumer needs, work with consumers on care planning, connect them to services, follow up, and track outcomes. The relationship with BSC has grown since over time, with Partners providing a variety of SDOH-related services.

Partners also operates specialized Outreach and Engagement Centers for Anthem in California, Georgia, Colorado, and Virginia. Through these centers, they develop care plans, engage with consumers, and make sure they get the needed social services. “You can take a horse to the water but you can’t make it drink. So engagement is crucial to ensure that consumers actually use the services they are connected to and that’s why the health plans partner with experts like us.”

For health plans, the benefit is in contracting with a single entity that manages the comprehensive network of social care. Access to supports becomes easier for consumers. Data sharing between the health plan and community-based organizations is also streamlined and simplified. Ms. Simmons said, “So if you’re a health plan and want to address a certain population—maybe it’s young moms and kids, maybe it’s frail elders and keeping them out of the nursing home—are you going to go out and identify all the agencies involved, organize them, and contract with them? Or would you like a lead entity that’s going to do that for you—curate the services, qualify the agencies, be the central intake, the oversee the quality, and do the billing?” Working with a trusted local entity is a far more practical and efficient route for health plans in Ms. Simmons’ opinion. She said, “A more mature community entity can bring their neighboring health and human service provider organizations into an organized delivery system, so consumers don’t have to be referred to multiple entities.”

Karin Annerhed-Harris, VP, Business Development, Resources for Human Development

Resources for Human Development addresses food and housing needs. RHD provides outpatient and residential services for consumers with mental illness, substance use disorders, and intellectual and developmental disabilities. RHD partnered with Temple University Hospital and two managed care organizations (MCOs)—Health Partners Plans and Keystone First—to pilot the Housing Smart program. The program was intended to reduce avoidable emergency room utilization and hospital readmissions among homeless individuals through peer outreach, supportive services, and subsidized housing resources.

The MCOs agreed to criteria for eligibility and generated a list of member referrals for RHD. RHD provided the high-users experiencing homelessness with access to housing vouchers that are good for two years. The consumers were housed in apartments across Philadelphia and local food banks provided three meals a day for three months, followed by cooking classes. The pilot resulted in a 74% drop in emergency room use, 48% reduction in hospitalizations, and a 76% increase in outpatient hospital visits. And with stable housing, 12 consumers in the program are actively engaged in behavioral health outpatient services.

At the outset of the program, Temple generated a list of eligible people using target population criteria and shared that with the MCOs. They enrolled 25 high utilizers prioritizing consumers with opioid use disorder, persistent mental illness, and co-occurring physical health conditions. RHD used an MCO-funded team comprising a peer support specialist, care coordinator, and tenant services coordinator to engage consumers in services. While the MCOs reimburse for services, 36% of the program is grant funded and goes toward housing, Ms. Harris said. RHD is exploring expanded health plan funding, now that Pennsylvania allows health systems and MCOs that can save money through a value-based agreement to use the profits to fund housing.

Lessons learned—partnership, evidence-based interventions, data sharing, and more. Ms. Simmons shared the four key elements for successful integration of SDOH—strong partnerships to form a comprehensive community network of care, the capacity to deliver home-based services, the use of good screening tools to assess consumer needs and preferences, and the delivery of evidence-based interventions for SDOH.

At RHD, Ms. Harris attributes the success of their pilot to robust partnerships and collaborations (between provider organizations, a health system, health plans, and other community organizations); cross-sector tools and training; and data sharing to enable a holistic view of consumer needs, goals, and care gaps.

The takeaway for provider organization executives? As my colleague and OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Cathy Gilbert, who moderated the session, said, “Entrepreneurial provider organizations have the opportunity to package many consumer support services that were previously not reimbursable and turn them into new revenue streams in partnership with plans. Providing these services drives better outcomes for consumers and ultimately reduces overall costs.”

WellSpan Health & Gateway Health Launch Value-Based Partnership For Medicaid Members

On July 29, 2021, Gateway Health, a Pennsylvania Medicaid managed care plan, and WellSpan Health a health system in central Pennsylvania launched a value-based partnership focused on connecting Gateway Health members with primary care professionals. Gateway Health and WellSpan are proactively contacting Gateway Health’s Medicaid members who visit the health system through emergency or urgent care visits, but do not have a relationship with a primary care provider organization. WellSpan case managers will work one-on-one with the Gateway members to address barriers, such as transportation and cost, to establishing an appropriate primary care relationship. Financial details about the partnership have not been disclosed. The goal is to reduce the number of potentially preventable emergency department visits among Gateway members.

Through this value-based partnership, Gateway Health and WellSpan aim to deliver an enhanced level of care, improve health outcomes, and lower health care costs for Gateway Health’s Medicaid members receiving care at WellSpan’s 200-plus health care locations. The partnership will utilize data insights and value-based programs to proactively manage the health care needs for more than 24,000 Gateway Health Medicaid members living in South Central Pennsylvania.

This partnership expands on an existing relationship between Gateway Health and WellSpan. For the past 18 months, they have partnered together for better maternal care and coverage through Foundations Pregnancy Support Services, a program offering coordinated, comprehensive care for mothers and their children with opioid use disorder. WellSpan partners with other Medicaid insurers to provide this support. However, WellSpan said that the commitment and innovative partnership with Gateway Health has resulted in more than double the number of members enrolled than with any other insurer.

Gateway Health was founded in 1992 as a Medicaid managed care plan. It currently provides Medicaid and Medicare Advantage plans. It covers health care services for nearly 340,000 members annually.

Non-profit WellSpan Health is an integrated health system that serves the communities of central Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. It has more than 1,600 employed physicians and advance practice professionals; a regional behavioral health organization; a home care organization; eight hospitals, and more than 200 consumer care locations.

For more information, contact:

Four Keys To Success With Value-Based Reimbursement

By Monica M. Oss

The move away from fee-for-service reimbursement—toward value-based arrangements with financial alignment between health plans and provider organizations—continues. A look at some of the reporting over the past quarter illustrates the continuing activity—Humana To Acquire One Homecare Solutions To Accelerate Development Of Value-Based Home Health OfferingGateway Health & Wellspan Health Announce Value-Based PartnershipCaron Treatment Centers & Independence Blue Cross Report Value-Based Contract Linked To Lower 90-Day Readmission Rate, and 60 Provider Organizations Chosen By CMS For The New ‘Value In Opioid Use Disorder Treatment’ Demonstration.

And as revenue slowly moves away from fee-for-service, most provider organization executive teams are going to have to make the decision about whether or not they want and can manage contracts with downside financial risk. Currently, nearly 36% of all health care payments in the United States are value-based (see 2019 HCP-LAN Alternative Payment Model Measurement Effort: Report & Infographic). A recent survey showed that 53% of specialty provider organizations caring for complex consumers are participating in some form of value-based reimbursement. And 12% of specialty provider organizations report 20% or more of their revenue tied to VBR agreements (see The 2021 OPEN MINDS Performance Management Executive Survey: Where Are We On The Road To Value). As these numbers rise, the available market share outside of these arrangements shrinks.

But for the executive teams that are taking their organization in that direction, the strategic question goes beyond getting the contracts. It is also how to manage VBR reimbursement arrangements successfully—for the consumer and for their own bottom line. In the executive roundtable at a recent conference, VBR: Where’s The Beef? Managing Payer Expectations For Value Over Volume, two health plans executives—Cindy Ehlers, MS, LPC, Executive Vice President, Clinical Operations at Trillium Health Resources and Rhett Melton, Chief Executive Officer at Partners Behavioral Health Management—described their expectations from provider organizations. And two provider executives—Corbin Petro, Chief Executive Officer at Eleanor Health and Teri Herrmann, MA, Chief Executive Officer at SPARC Services & Programs—described their approaches for success with value-based models.

Our payer and provider executives highlighted four aspects of a value-based relationship that are essential for success—an aligned partnership model, knowing what to measure and why, managing the cost side of the equation, and building in processes that allow flexibility in care planning and delivery.

Well-aligned partnerships are key. Provider organizations have traditionally had “vendor” relationships with health plans—relationships that have bordered on adversarial. Our panelists pointed out that it’s important for providers and payers to lose the “us versus them” mentality and come to the table together to see how they can best serve consumers. Mr. Melton said, “There are three people at the table. There’s the payer, there’s the provider, and there’s the member. We start with the members themselves. It’s not us at the managed care company that should sit in an office somewhere and decide what’s the right outcome, we should be working with our members to say, ‘What do you want out of care? What do you want success to look like? What do you think is important in the care that you get?’ That is how we can demonstrate the so-what.”

Ms. Herrmann noted that SPARC Services & Programs has multiple value-based contracts with multiple payers (see Value-Based Reimbursement Models Help SPARC Get A Leg Up In Medicaid Managed Care Contracting). The key to success has been coming together with each payer to figure out the pain points for both the health plan and their diverse consumer members.

To build these partnerships, many health plans are willing to do what it takes to help provider organizations prepare for the shift away from fee-for-service. Both Trillium and Partners Behavioral Health provide support for technology infrastructure upgrades and offer training and education for provider organizations. Mr. Melton said, “We invest in improvements because that stabilizes the system. If a short-term financial cost to the managed care organization can improve accessibility and stability for members, it’s important. We’re looking to walk alongside provider organizations and to bring some of that training to help them grow along with us.” Ms. Ehlers added, “We’re trying to meet providers where they are. So for those that need infrastructure, we try to guide them in that direction. Sometimes we invest in infrastructure to help move them forward. Because it matters to the care of the member. We’ll work with them on training. Lots of providers have done really good work in moving forward as soon as they know that is something they need to do. They’re eager to learn and try.”

Measures are important but must be consumer-centric. The very essence of value-based contracts is performance measurement—it is the means to move away from volume as the foundation of reimbursement. There is a wide range of performance measures in VBR—those affecting cost of care and HEDIS measures being the most common (for more, see our OPEN MINDS-recommended performance dashboard in 12 Steps To Creating Your Data-Driven Organization.)

But the focus on performance for consumers needs to be front and center according to our panelists. Mr. Melton explained, “We require reporting on HEDIS measures—timely follow up from hospitalization, keeping the emergency department utilization down, and decreasing the days of inpatient hospitalization. It is all those things, but we always need to come back to what all those things mean for member satisfaction. It’s great for us to say the days dropped by X number per 1000 for inpatient care. And that’s a good indicator and there are certainly cost ramifications. But did the members think that they had good access to care? And are they happy with the care?”

Ms. Petro said that in its value-based contracts, Eleanor Health (see Eleanor Health’s Value-Based Approach To Medical Homes For Consumers With Addictions & Complex Support Needs) reports on HEDIS measures—emergency room diversion, reduction in hospital readmissions, and net promoter score. But she emphasized that each of these measures is tied to goals that they have defined in tandem with payers and that are consumer-focused. These include improving access to care, engaging the 90% of consumers with substance use disorders who currently don’t seek care, and reducing the total cost of care. She said, “An important part of any value-based payment model is orienting around specific outcomes. This has also been where I saw the most opportunity, having come from the physical side of health care. There aren’t a lot of entities that are tracking to specific outcomes. So payers have been really excited about what we’ve been able to show for the populations that we work with. And outcomes are particularly important for stigmatized populations that historically haven’t been treated well by the health care system. So metrics are an important part of our value models.”

Ms. Herrmann discussed their health plan contracts, which have both upside and downside risk. The incentives can include keeping consumers out of the hospital. Penalties may be incurred if consumers enter residential treatment unnecessarily or exceed a certain length of inpatient stays. However, she said, “They’re really all looking at that same piece—are we able to support that person remaining healthy and in their community, and not using the hospital systems when they don’t need to be? But if residential treatment is needed to keep them safe, are we ensuring that they can get that treatment? Are we doing all of the things that we can do clinically, and giving the clinicians the freedom to intervene in unique ways that fee-for-service doesn’t always allow us to do?”

Cost management is as important as revenue management. There are two parts to the simple equation underlying alternative payment models: Value = Performance/Cost. Performance metrics are critical but cost management is essential for sustainability of provider organizations under these arrangements.

The first step is the understanding how much services costs. There are unit of service costs. But that is only the first step. Cost of care across the continuum and over time are critical measures. Ms. Ehlers  said, “Providers don’t know how much services cost, because they have a whole lot of stuff rolled up into their administrative overhead. And so when it comes down to a discrete service, a lot of times they’re unable to tell us what it actually costs them. That’s one of the things that slows us way down.” (For more on this, see our OPEN MINDS Value-Based Contracting Risk Assessment Checklist.)

And there is another cost issue. Delivering services with downside financial risk often requires additional infrastructure with additional costs. This includes capacity to collect data, capacity to analyze data for population health management, ability to run service utilization prediction models, ability to exchange healthcare information, care management functionality, and consumer portal functionality—see  The OPEN MINDS Value-Based Reimbursement Readiness Assessment Checklist). Ms. Petro said, “I would argue that the greater piece of information that we can show is the impact that we’re having on the quality and the costs for the that individual we are serving, as opposed to the cost of intervention. We need to know the impact of delivering care that often isn’t supported in a fee-for-service environment—the community health worker and peer support services that break down those non clinical barriers to care. Or are the costs keeping people healthy, keeping people out of the hospital, and really having that total impact?” Her advice is to “move from a billable service metric to a caseload or a risk-adjusted caseload metric” and look at how the needs of a population or set of members is being met. She said, “You really have to look at what do these patients cost? Why do they cost this much? Where are the opportunities for savings? Are they all in the right levels of care and do they have access to care?”

Value fosters flexibility—with a caveat. Provider organization clinical managers have often expressed frustration with the restrictions imposed by “billable services.” The general consensus is that fee-for-service reimbursement hinders a whole-person approach and doing what is best for the consumer. But value-based models bring newfound flexibility, our panelists agreed. At SPARC, value-based models have given clinical professionals a lot of freedom and flexibility to adjust levels and intensity of care based on where consumers are. For example, they have 6-month authorizations so there’s no need to go back to the payer for more units. The administrative burden is significantly reduced.

But there is a caveat. While there are not rules on the volume of care—or necessarily the type of care—clinical professionals are held accountable for outcomes. Ms. Herrmann said that they discuss their commitment to value-based models while hiring clinical professionals. They stress that the clinical team will have flexibility in how they deliver care but also have “skin in the game” for delivering good performance. She said, “We talk about the fact that we have opportunities for incentive payments as an agency if we’re able to keep the children and families we’re working with out of higher levels of care, and if the things that we do stick and work. Then we translate those into incentives for the clinicians.”

This is not about giving carte blanche to clinical professionals to use whatever treatment models they choose. It is providing a framework for consumer-centric, structured flexibility through ongoing assessments and clinical support tools.

These four keys to success may seem like a stretch for many provider organization executive teams. But, as Mr. Melton said, they should be “comfortable being uncomfortable.” The investment required—new best practices in partnerships models and management, in data-driven decisionmaking, in cost management and use of decision support tools—is one part of the equation. Building the management team that can use those tools is the other.

If You Don’t Measure It, You Won’t Implement It: Setting Strategic Plan Metrics

By Carol Duncan Clayton, Ph.D., Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS

As management guru Peter Drucker said, “What gets measures is what gets done.” The surest way to ensure implementation of the strategic plan is to translate the plan objectives into quantifiable metrics and to hold executive team members and managers and staff at all levels accountable to achieving those metrics. The question our team at OPEN MINDS often gets is “But what metrics should we set for the strategic plan?” While there is no formula or template, following a defined process will result in establishing meaningful measures of success. We’ve defined the 12-step process to becoming a data-driven organization (see 12 Steps To Creating Your Data-Driven Organization). And here, we narrow down the steps pertinent to setting strategic plan metrics.

Once the strategic plan is finalized and approved, with clear overarching objectives and strategic initiatives, executive teams should follow a five-step process to establish metrics—break down objectives into key performance indicators (KPIs) for each business unit or domain, work with business unit leaders to establish KPIs, determine how data will be measured and shared, cascade the metrics down to the individual level, and establish a review and action framework for when targets are not being achieved.

Translate Strategic Objectives Into Key Performance Indicators

Ideally, your strategic plan should have no more than three to five overarching objectives for the organization as a whole. And a well-constructed strategic plan should identify a handful of key strategic initiatives designed to achieve those objectives. Strategies are the plan for “how” your organization is going to accomplish the objectives—not the action items. Strategic initiatives can include developing new services lines, expanding into new markets, pursuing acquisitions, improving margins on selected services, changing business development strategies, etc.—all dependent on the specific organization and its specific objectives.

The overarching objectives should be broken down into key performance indicators for each business unit or domain for every one of the strategic initiatives. A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric used to measure and track progress toward achieving a specific objective. KPIs are quantifiable, measurable, and intended to indicate if an organization is hitting its targets. Ideally, KPIs should specify a frame of comparison—the current level of something and what it will increase or decrease to and by when.

For example, a strategic objective to “Become the market leader in providing xx type of services in xx region” could break down to outcome measures for the clinical, marketing, and customer service units. For the clinical unit, KPIs could be “Reduce hospital readmissions by xx% from current levels” or “Proactive outreach to xx consumers with PHQ-9 scores above xx” or “Establish workflows and protocols to adopt xx new evidence-based practices” For the marketing unit, KPIs might look like “xxx website visitors in 2021, resulting in xx inquiries about services.” A business development unit’s performance may be measured in terms of new payer contracts procured, rate increases negotiated, or number of visits resulting from community partner referrals. For customer service, the KPIs may relate to how quickly calls are answered, reduced wait times for appointments, a certain number of positive online review by consumers, or improvement in net promoter score. For the technology department, the objective might translate to a performance metric such as “Set up online appointment scheduling capability and train xx staff.” For the finance department, the KPI may be to “Reduce the billing cycle by xx days.”

My colleague and OPEN MINDS Senior Associate Ken Carr recommends sample KPIs in six performance domains—high performance on payer contracts, the speed and cost factors, the consumer experience, clinically cutting-edge, and financial sustainability (see Experience Alone Is Not Enough For Decisionmaking: Using Metrics To Develop & Evaluate Your Strategic Plan).

Depending on your strategic objectives, there are six core areas in which KPIs should be established to determine organizational strengths and growth, according to OPEN MINDS Chief Executive Officer Monica E. Oss (see For The Next Normal, Ready = Resilient). Portfolio strength is determined by analyzing revenue and profitability by service line and payer and determining the degree to which an organization is vulnerable to specific market shifts. Customer strength is determined by consumer and payer ratings and measures—net promoter score, consumer experience, HEDIS measures, STARS ratings from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and other consumer and payer metrics. Marketing strength is your organization’s ability to reach prospective customers. Financial strength is the financial “reserves” available to your organization to withstand unexpected market shifts. Value-based reimbursement strength is the ability of an organization to successfully move beyond cost-based and volume-based reimbursement models. And innovation strength is measured in an organization’s demonstrated ability to respond to customer requests and take new services to scale.

Allow Business Unit Leaders To Drive KPIs But Provide Guidance

One key question is who should establish metrics and KPIs. Ideally, the managers of each business unit in a provider organization are best suited to do this. However, the executive team should work closely with these managers to make sure they understand the organizational strategic objectives and how those apply to their business unit. Managers should be able to provide clear rationale for how every KPI they recommend links to one or more strategic objectives. A framework and examples will guide the managers in the right direction. They also need to understand how their unit’s KPIs will tie into those of other units and where collaboration will be needed to set and achieve goals jointly. The executive team should also clarify expectations—should KPIs be aspirational or stretch goals or should they be limited by current level of performance, will the appropriate resources and support be available if stretch goals are set, what are the consequences of non-performance etc. How to encourage managers to “think big” without causing negative stress through unattainable goals is a challenge to be addressed through an iterative process.

Ultimately the executive team, and the Chief Executive Officer specifically, is responsible for final approval of the KPIs. But engaging business unit and frontline managers up front will help to secure buy-in. Moving to a metrics-based system of performance will likely involve a major cultural shift for most specialty provider organizations—and the executive team should drive this shift with firmness and tact.

Define The Pathways To Collect, Measure, & Share Data

Managers who recommend KPIs should provide clarity on where the data for measurement will be sourced from, how often it is collected, and who will process the data. The executive team should develop an organization-wide system of dashboards and reporting, defining frequency of reporting and levels of access.

It’s important to get everyone on the same page about how each metric is defined, how it’s displayed, and whether the planned representation yields the desired takeaways for each manager. Keep the data visual and finding a quick way to draw attention to trends and anomalies is of utmost importance.

Everything on the dashboard has to be automated. If data needs to be complied manually, put it on a waiting list until it can be automated. Nobody wants one more thing to do—and any data that needs to be hand tabulated ends up not being collected, or being so delayed that it loses value. While there are sophisticated dashboards and programs and platforms to manage those dashboards, starting simple is always best—there is a lot you can do with Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint. Microsoft PowerBI is also a good data visualization and connection tool, with affordable prices for initial out of the box solutions. And your electronic health record system can likely be leveraged for many of the reports you need—so talk to your vendor about what is possible. But remember, “form follows function” and keep the data easy to understand and easy to act on.

Tie Business Unit Metrics To Individual Performance

Business unit KPIs should be cascaded down to individual employees and be reflected in their individual goals. Transparency and follow-through are the keys to success here (see Aligning Staff Compensation To Value). Transparency is key to getting staff buy-in—so make sure each employee knows how metrics are established, how individual goals are derived from organizational goals, and exactly how their performance will be measured. While alignment of individual goals to KPIs is imperative if the organization has performance-based compensation plans in place, it is a best practice to motivate and engage employees even if such plans are not yet in play.

Leaders must continuously work with their teams to assess performance and provide direction and support in improving that performance. “Connecting the dots” between each team member’s role and organizational strategic objectives is a leadership imperative.

Clarify The Process For Review & Remedial Action

So you’ve got the data, the dashboards are set up and the numbers and reports are flowing in. But what if performance targets are not being met? It would be helpful to define a process up front for what actions need to be taken—and by whom and over what period of time—to understand the reasons for under-performance or non-performance and put remedial measures in place.

There could be any number of reasons why KPIs are not being achieved—and any number of solutions. It may be that individual employees need help to improve productivity and quality, or that workflows and processes need to be streamlined, or that costs need to be managed more tightly, or that marketing needs to be more targeted…And if the identified solutions are applied and the results still don’t improve, the executive team and managers should have a candid, data-informed discussion about whether KPIs need to be adjusted and scaled up in a phased manner. While stretch goals are important, goal-setting and achievement can be an iterative process.

Ultimately, organizations that have the best data—and the best insights based on that data—are those that are able to achieve strategic objectives while leveraging the needed degree of flexibility in getting from here to there. As we enter the next normal, demonstrating success with strategy implementation, and having the data to back it up, will be key for long-term sustainability and for future updates to the strategic plan.