How Well-Defined Mining KPIs Drive Continuous Improvement Through Employee Recognition

February 5, 2024

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At a Glance

Learn how well-defined mining KPIs and performance metrics can improve employee recognition and motivation, creating a culture of continuous improvement in your mine. 

To manage the headwinds of a challenging market, companies in the mining industry are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to maximize productivity. However, to ensure that achievements are sustainable, a focus that extends beyond ore throughput and mine profitability is required. A more long-term strategy is needed where companies can foster mining talent, developing their skills to grow within the industry. Ultimately, investment in talent and recognizing employees for their work will bring far-reaching benefits in talent acquisition and retention.  

To effectively recognize employees, their performance needs to be measured and tracked against well-defined KPIs that apply specifically to each role, department and task. If performance metrics are poorly set, this creates ripple effects on the mine’s entire performance, stymieing management’s ability to track growth, quickly identify issues in operations, and to reward and incentivize employees for positive performances and outcomes.  

Tracking the right mining KPIs for maximum impact on mine performance 

When definitions of KPIs are overly focused on the needs of a specific department or function, they may fail to measure the performance of the asset or the value each department needs to play in an overarching goal.  

“The best performance metrics are designed around the good of the mine, not a particular department. For example, in mining operations, what can seem like a legitimate metric such as the number of tons moved with trucks and shovels per day, or the number of load and haul cycles fail to communicate whether the right tons were moved or the time needed per cycle,” explains Peacock.  

“Let’s say an inventory manager’s performance is measured on the sum of inventory dollars spent. He or she reduces the amount of inventory and concludes it’s mission accomplished. But later it turns out that inventory was reduced in a disorganized way, resulting in parts needed not being available and eventual loss in mine productivity.” 

The way performance metrics are defined ultimately impacts employee behavior, what they understand is expected of them within but also beyond their department, and the performance of the mine.  

Hence, when defining KPIs, all angles must be considered and metrics must be designed with feedback from various departments. External factors that may impact performance should also be considered such as changes in the number of hours employees work on a mine, fluctuations in the quantities of byproducts produced and the extent that ore can be processed domestically. 

Inspiring a culture of continuous improvement using well-defined KPIs  

Once KPIs have been defined and agreed upon, performance metrics can be utilized not just to ensure consistent delivery or output, but to recognize employees for their contributions and exceptional performances.  

“We don’t want to simply use KPIs to identify shortcomings or to give people a hard time when they miss a target. We want to be able to track and incentivize sustainable performance improvements. A big part of sustainability for us is employee recognition when they exceed expectations,” says Steve Peacock, Managing Director of Unison Mining. 

Over time, the positive reinforcement from this way of rewarding and incentivizing employees inspires lasting behavioral change in employees and fosters a better working relationship. 

Peacock explains that in addition to motivating employees and incentivizing exceptional performances, strategically defined KPIs can help to troubleshoot performance issues much faster or to unlock the potential in a new way of working. 

“When employees exceed expectations, well-defined KPIs and performance metrics can help management to pinpoint a new technique or way of working that the employee used, and can be replicated and shared across departments.” 

How Unison Mining measures success 

At Unison Mining, our team works with you to understand the biggest pain points your team faces, whether during the mine planning stages or in the thick of ongoing operations. Through an in-depth analysis, we identify the biggest opportunities your team can leverage to solve these challenges and co-develop and define strategic KPIs along with a Management Control System to easily track performance over time.  

We understand that performance metrics are only a tool to incentivize behaviour change in employees, and that collaboration from all departments and teams is essential to create KPIs that drive lasting performance improvements

Our team would love to hear from you to help you get started.

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