How to Sell Your Staff on Dashboards

As dashboards, tools that show IT performance metrics and other measures in one graphics-rich window, become more widely deployed, you must position them well to your staff, says Gloria Campbell, associate professor of business administration at Wartburg College in Iowa. Selling them in the right way, especially to the midlevel and lower ranks, will help you utilize the tools effectively, without employees thinking you've channeled Orwell and gone "1984" on them. Her advice:

Let employees help set the metrics. When employees help determine what a dashboard will measure, they're more likely to think it's a fair tool for measuring productivity and performance. "If people think the metrics are appropriately set, they're not going to feel as threatened," says Campbell.

Stress the benefits of transparency. Tell employees they'll see the type of data that years ago may have lived only in the office of the CFO. Employees can use the information to stay abreast of the company's performance. When something substantial happens to the business, they wont feel broadsided.

Explain the performance upside. A boss who's using dashboards to track employee performance is not hiding a secret spreadsheet that tracks his winners and losers, only to be revealed at the end of the quarter. "You not only know how you're doing, you know how your competitors are doing in other departments," Campbell says.

Show how dashboards can prevent problems. Employees can be less reactive, and more proactive, when using dashboards, anticipating problems and solving them before the boss even has the chance to pick up the phone.

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