Mindful Metrics

What's your most important KPI?

What's your most important KPI?

You're on the job hunt.

You've spent a ton of time crafting your resume into a work of art and customizing your cover letter to fit the company's mission and the position's description.

You've cleaned up your social presence, painstakingly combing through your old Tweets and your LinkedIn profile.

And the work has paid off. Email requests are coming in to schedule initial interviews. You're hearing from the companies you didn't expect to hear back from, the ones you've been dreaming about joining.

You feel your palms sweat while emailing back and forth with the recruiters. Which, of course, means you're triple-checking every sentence in every response to make sure each syllable presents you in the precise way in which you want to be presented.

Dear Anne,

Hey Anne,


Hi Anne,

The Interview

"Hi, is this ______?"
"Hi Anne, it sure is. Thanks for taking some time out for me today."

Your heart is racing. It's all you can think about right now as you're approaching the home stretch and have aced every question Anne has thrown at you. And then she drops a haymaker:

"______, in your current role, what's your most important KPI? How did you select it, why does it matter, and how are you monitoring progress toward it?"

You pause. One pause turns to two. Two turns to a freeze.

And the freeze grows into a silence suggesting befuddlement.

Talk of KPIs is cheap

In the imagined scenario above, did your mind hone in on how you'd answer? Or did you feel scattered?

We write a lot about KPIs here at Mindful Metrics. If you've been a reader and subscriber long enough, you can likely rattle off the 5 or even ten most important KPIs in your industry without blinking.

But what about when it comes down to one? What about when you're pressed and need to select the single most important KPI for your line of work? The one that in many ways is a representation of your impact?

What KPI best represents how you drive the business forward?

Answer that.

Keep that answer somewhere safe. It will come in handy both for your own focused daily work and for when the time comes to communicate why you're doing what you're doing.

How did you select this KPI?

With the previous answer in hand, now is your time to tell a story. So, how did you choose that KPI from among so many others?

What challenges were you seeing? What challenge was the company or your team facing? What process did you use to select the right KPI for the situation?

It's not enough to know the KPI you are driving toward; you must know that KPI's story.

Why does this KPI matter?

Anne's question contained multitudes.

Cool, you answered the first and second parts, but why does this KPI ultimately matter? How is your pursuit of it improving the company's performance?

This is your chance to go beyond the internal company and/or departmental challenges you mentioned earlier. Paint a picture of the industry you're in.

Show Anne that you know the industry, that you know every inch of its landscape. You chose this KPI not just to solve some internal quibble, but to catapult your company ahead of its competitors.


How are you monitoring progress toward this KPI?

Lastly, now that you've made clear that this is the "most important KPI" for you, you're now tasked with conveying how you monitor it.

So, how are you gauging progress? How are you communicating this progress?

If you're using spreadsheets or perhaps an in-app or in-platform monitoring tool, great. Give Anne a glimpse into how you're using those methods and why you believe they are cutting-edge.

If you're using a KPI dashboard software, there's no need to make a case for cutting-edge. It's understood and you've likely earned a few bonus points as a result. But you'll still need to communicate how this method helps your pursuit.

Final KPI musings

When it comes to key performance indicators, we've always believed that the fewer you're tracking the better you're likely tracking them.

But what if it came down to one? What if, for a moment and in the wild world of business metrics, you had to choose a single KPI that you woke up and worked by, day in and day out?

Which would you choose? How did you choose it? Why does it matter? How are you monitoring it?

See also:

KPI Examples


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