OKRs (Objectives and key results) boost the rate of engagement and efficiency in organizations because managers can identify the progress of the projects during the check-in process. Their versatility enables managers to empower their teams and engage individual members, and paves way for high-performing teams that work better.
Traditionally, organizations set high-level goals that are expected to last through the year – but due to other factors, these get relegated to the backburner very soon. This kind of passive management makes it difficult for managers to measure and track the progress of their team members. Tracking the achievement of goals also becomes tough, as managers end up spending most of their time aligning different teams and individuals. If organizations try to ensure employees cascade their goals to the organization-level goals, the onus of clarity falls on managers.
How do OKRs help?
OKRs make the process of setting goals and tracking them very easy. While small businesses can use tools like google docs or Excel sheets to establish and propagate goals, the static nature of the process falls apart as the number of employees increases. App for Jira like Upraise for Employee Success can help organizations assign and track goals in real-time, allow employees to connect their work to tangible goals, and make the process of communicating company objectives easy.
OKRs inherently push organizations to bring clarity about their goals to the employees, who can then align their everyday work accordingly. They give clear direction to every team and individual members of those teams and push them to improve their productivity through focusing on goals. The constant visibility provides very clear signals on the tracking of progress, and lets managers make informed decisions about providing coaching, recognition, or both to respective team members. By measuring achievements and taking steps to improve them, managers (and leaders of the organization) can provide accountability and transparency to all stakeholders. The weekly updates, an inherent part of OKRs, surface new insights on a regular basis – and provide a platform for the entire organization to have a discussion on team objectives and how to move forward.
Five key OKR benefits
When done right, OKRs can help good organizations (or teams) to consistently produce great work. This is because OKRS promote
- Execution with greater accountability and transparency – where managers are invested in the growth of their team members, and not just the completion of projects at hand
- Engagement and empowerment of individual employees through goal-setting processes that are focused on measurable outcomes
- Using insights across the organization, where top-level executives can make informed decisions can enhance the whole company’s life span and improve their contribution to the society
- Analysing root causes when objectives aren’t met within the time frame and improving resource allocation and management
- Tracking OKRs help in capturing cross-functional dependencies between teams so that the collaboration can happen smoothly, and result in creative and innovative solutions
Why should organizations use OKR?
Using OKRs can bring clarity in business processes, as the principles of the OKR framework require organizations to have a clear Vision and Mission. This allows managers to align the activities of their teams with the larger picture. The precision with which the organization’s vision and mission are defined also dictates the quality of operational results – the clearer the better.
Traditional annual appraisals restrict organizations to pre-set goals and objectives, which render the possibility of nimble decisions almost impossible. This can be seen in the effects of the pandemic, where organizations that had adopted well-defined company OKRs showed an advantage as they could react faster and change their objectives to match the new normal. The main reason for this adaptability is that OKR methods work well when used in a period of three to four months. Not only the Objectives and their Key Results are anchored in a shorter period of time, but also provide easy ways to restructure the roadmap of the organization and improve employee engagement that may lead to astounding success.
Gaining clarity and focus is a given when an OKR system is implemented properly, and this is made possible because of the reduced complexity of understanding the tasks and a clear understanding of the time needed to finish the project. OKRs focus on finding the best possible solution through collaboration that propels the company forward.
One of the important aspects of company-wide OKRs is the intensive and regular feedback sessions between the managers and their team members. The constant exchange during the goal-setting process and beyond leads to a new type of digital corporate culture where everyone works together towards a common goal. Not only can managers discover the number of good ideas that their team members have, but also enable it proactively and measure success easily.
OKRs are almost always visible to every member of the organization (except in certain circumstances where individual OKRs can be made private). As every member has access to the organization’s companywide vision, objectives, and corresponding key results, the amount of transparency in the working style increases. The improvement in communication brings about transparency that makes employees understand what they are working towards – and how their daily efforts are making a difference. Regular two-way discussions with managers about the progress (or lack thereof) can highlight issues much earlier than before, and corrective measures can be taken so that the team members are progressing in the same direction. The alignment required for the success of OKR goal-setting processes is directly related to the improvement in the strength of organizational transparency, both within teams especially across them.
One of the most important factors for organizations to unearth genuine game-changing ideas from their employees is psychological safety. Team members who feel safe have no hesitation in trying new things and producing innovations, and team OKRs foster this by decoupling performance management from compensation. When employees know that their employers are interested in their overall growth, they tend to take a few steps of their own – like presenting proactive ideas, highlighting the issues that hinder them, and achieving company-wide objectives.