What Are Key Performance Indicators? Types and Samples

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 29 October 2022

Published 27 September 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are used to quantify whether a business, team or individual is achieving its goals. In this article, we discuss what key performance indicators are, provide some examples, and outline the steps you can take to create your performance metrics.

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What are key performance indicators?

Key performance indicators are performance metrics that indicate how well an individual, team or organisation is progressing towards an intended goal. Organisations set KPIs to help employees focus on particular objectives, so they may allocate their time and financial resources accordingly.

Read more: Differences Between Goal vs. Objective

What are some examples of key performance indicators (KPI)?

Here are some examples of common KPIs:

  • Revenue-related: increase sales revenue by 35% this year

  • Online traffic-related: increase website traffic by 8% this month

  • Operational expense-related: decrease variable operational expenses by 15% this quarter

  • Employee turnover-related: decrease employee turnover by 20% this year

Related: What Is a Career Objective?

What are the different types of key performance indicators (KPIs)?

There are 2 different types of KPIs.

High vs. low KPIs

High KPIs are performance metrics for the entire organisation as a whole, whilst low KPIs are for smaller teams, departments or individuals. Fulfilling low KPIs set companies on the right path to reaching their high KPIs.

What makes a good key performance indicator (KPI)?

The ability of a company to measure its progress toward a goal is only as good as the quality of its KPIs. A good KPI typically contains the following characteristics:

  • It is specific: A KPI has to be a quantifiable and unambiguous statement of what you intend to achieve. 'Improve client satisfaction' for instance, is vague as a KPI. 'Improve customer satisfaction ratings by 15% at the end of Q4' is a much better example.

  • It is realistic: KPIs have to be ambitious yet attainable, to ensure that those working on reaching them are challenged but not demotivated.

  • It contains a deadline: KPIs need to include a time frame to make progress measurable. For instance, you may decide that you want to sell a particular number of products by the end of a quarter, month or calendar year.

Related: SMART Goals: Definition, Template and Examples

How to create key performance indicators (KPIs)

Create your own KPIs with the following steps:

1. Set your high KPIs

First, determine the overarching organisational goals and set your high KPIs. From there, it is easier to know what low KPIs you need to set to reach the overarching goal. Consider meeting with your manager or supervisor to verify that you're creating appropriate goals and have them review your KPIs after you've established them.

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2. Generate key performance questions (KPQs)

Listed below are some examples of KPQs you may consider:

  • What outcome do I wish to achieve?

  • What is the significance of that outcome?

  • How do I define progress?

  • How can I influence the outcome?

  • How will I know when I've achieved my ultimate goal?

3. Gather supporting information

To create a realistic KPI you need a lot of information like company performance reviews, industry and market trends, financial audits, social media performance, etc.

4. Communicate KPIs to all relevant parties

After the KPIs have been set, they should be communicated to the relevant teams, departments and individuals so that work can begin on them.

Related: Career Goals: How To Set, Examples and Tips for Achieving

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