Video: The Art & Science of Setting Performance Targets with Resident Survey Data

In the second part of the Resident Survey Bootcamp webinar series, the City of Olathe, Kansas’ performance team - Ed Foley and John Page - deconstructed their approach to setting achievable performance targets. It’s an approach that’s helped Olathe make significant gains in resident satisfaction over the past few years, including earning the highest score in the nation in 2017 for Overall Quality of City Services.

Olathe measures performance in order to evaluate, learn, improve, budget, motivate employees, promote initiatives, and celebrate successes - and none of that would be possible without the thoughtful selection of targets.

"Targets are the anchor to performance management," Ed says. "Without targets, you have little meaning beyond change or difference over time. You need targets to make sense of results."


When setting targets on resident survey measures:

1. Engage the people closest to the issue. City staff are aware of past and current initiatives and programs that may influence satisfaction, and you’ll want to draw on that information to find the perfect target - one that is both realistic but also challenging. For example, John works with the Public Works department where they’ve set a stretch goal to be in the top 25% of the country for satisfaction with maintenance of city streets. It’s ambitious, but they know it’s also achievable since the department is overseeing a street preservation program that provides extra funding for streets projects in specific neighborhoods. The expectation is that new investment in areas that need it most will lead to a marked increase in satisfaction in these areas, which will elevate overall satisfaction on the measure.


2. Experiment with different approaches. The Public Works departments uses a few different methods for determining targets on specific measures. Favorites include 1) comparisons against the national average, which are derived from survey provider’s reports, and ensure the department’s goals are in-line with those in peer cities across the country; 2) grouped satisfaction, or the percent of very satisfied and satisfied responses, which city leaders and staff can use to evaluate the impact of relevant programs and policies on the resident experience; and 3) three-year quarterly rolling averages for measures that tend to be more stable, which helps control for the effects of outlier results, like when the Kansas City Royals won the World Series in 2015 and satisfaction spiked across the board.


3. Do simple but advanced analysis to fine-tune targets. Analysis and visualization tools like mySidewalk’s Resident Survey Dashboard helps Olathe set more precise targets over time. Mapping the resident experience, for example, lets the performance team move beyond a macro understanding of satisfaction to a micro understanding of satisfaction across parts of the community. With this information, they can pinpoint pockets where particular measures are underperforming compared to the community at-large, conduct research to understand the phenomenon, and target resources to improve the resident experience in those area and/or set specific targets, like "Increase satisfaction by 10% in the lowest performing census tracts."

Click on each map to view at a larger size.


Let us help you find insights hidden in your survey data and make targeted, informed improvements through our Resident Satisfaction solution and Citizen Survey Boot Camp.