How do I set an empowering context for my KPIs?

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How do I set an empowering context for my KPIs?

Author: Tran Le Bich Tram, Senior Talent Acquisition Officer, Mekong Capital

February 21, 2024

Last year, I joined the Talent Acquisition (TA) team because I had a genuine passion for recruiting qualified talents for our organization. However, when I learned that our KPI (Key Performance Indicator) was to close 2 positions per month, I couldn’t help but feel a mix of excitement and pressure. My first thought: “Wow, what an ambitious KPI but how could I fulfill it?” I’m feeling a mix of butterflies in my stomach and being a bit triggered at the same time.

As I looked at the goals set by our line manager, my head reluctantly accepted the challenge, but my heart felt heavy. Deep down, my true goal in joining the Talent Acquisition team was to match talented individuals with the right opportunities, helping them develop their career roadmap while contributing to the overall growth of the organization. When this vision is fulfilled, then I see that I’m creating an impact for both talents and organizations.

Tran Le Bich Tram, Senior Talent Acquisition Officer, Mekong Capital

In reality, I found myself relentlessly chasing the KPI like a machine. Day and night, I focused solely on closing as many positions as possible, neglecting the joy of the entire journey. Stress started to take its toll, and the team’s atmosphere became disconnected.

It was during this time that I realized the misalignment between the 02-position KPI and the reason why I had initially joined the job. I failed to see the value I brought to the team, the organization, and most importantly, to my talent pool. This lack of fulfillment negatively impacted my performance, and I struggled to meet my KPIs in the first two months. I was torn between delivering quantity and maintaining quality, and a CEO’s comment struck me: “You should focus on quality, not quantity.” It was an ugly truth and my first wake-up call.

I began to reflect on important questions: What if focusing on quality could actually improve my performance? How could I shift my occurring and find a balance? These thoughts continued to haunt me until a pivotal moment: our Team Vision session. Through a series of thought-provoking questions and discussions, we collectively generated our shared vision. In that moment, I saw the bigger picture of the KPI and how it contributed to the company‘s vision and our investee companies‘ vision. I realized that my value was not limited to closing a certain number of positions, but rather in the impact I could create for the team, the organization, and the individuals I worked with. I saw myself together with our team, holding hands and chasing OUR finish line.

With this new perspective, I shifted my focus from the number of “02 positions per month” to improving the quality of my activities. I found fulfillment in delivering what truly mattered to me, to our team, and to our partner companies. We gradually let go of the pressure of the KPI and, as a result, achieved record-breaking performance in the second half of 2023.

This experience taught me the importance of generating a shared team vision as a vital anchor for individual and team performance. It empowered us to focus on the most important inputs, rather than being solely driven by output. And as we focused on creating value and making a positive impact, the desired results naturally followed.

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Mekong Capital makes investments in consumer-driven businesses and adds substantial value to those companies based on its proven framework called Vision Driven Investing. Our investee companies are typically among the fastest-growing companies in Vietnam’s consumer sectors.

In January 2022, Mekong Capital founder Chris Freund published Crab Hotpot, a story about a bunch of crabs who found themselves stuck in a boiling pot. The colorful cover of “Crab Hot Pot,” complete with expressive cartoon crustaceans, looks like a children’s tale at first glance. But as one continues reading, it becomes clear that the work has an important message about organizational transformation, leadership and focusing on a clear vision for the future.

The book is available on Tiki (Hard copy): (Vietnamese) and Amazon: (English)

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