The last quarter of the year is a particularly stressful time for me. Not only do you have to worry about the end of the year results coming in, there is a question about how to get more done with your team the next year. How to improve your office culture, work performance and communications? How to make sure I keep getting even better at my job?

Objectives and Key Results and quarterly goal setting.

It is well known that most people don’t like the annual performance review and for a good reason. It’s a time-consuming stressor for both employees and managers and it does very little to keep employees focused for the entire year. That is why I’ve been implementing quarterly Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in both my team and in our company for the last 2 years.

Putting it very simply, OKRs is an easy process of setting company, team, and personal quarterly goals and then connecting each goal with 3-4 measurable key results. We started by setting goals for the whole company, then made sure each team has a goal that that connects to our general vision. After that team leaders talked with their employees and made sure everyone had personal goals that help them achieve the team goals. That way, everything an employee did, helped to push forward the company’s long term strategy. We measure the progress weekly to see how much has been done. If a week has passed without any progress, there is a problem that is quickly addressed and solved.

Benefits of OKRs.

The benefits of this system are many:

  • Continuous performance management – using OKRs helps me get feedback on my employee’s work fast and give them the positive enforcement they need. It also lets me know if any of them are falling behind and lets me solve problems before they escalate.
  • Clear communication between employees and managers – knowing how your goal is connected to the goals of others gives everyone a sense of impact, connection and meaning. We measured the employee job satisfaction 6 months after adopting the system and the job satisfaction was up more than 20%.
  • Engaged workforce – employees who understand their role in the grand scheme of things and know their work impacts the work of others are more generally more engaged than others. OKRs also offer the one thing younger generations want more than anything else: honest and constant feedback.

Megan M. Biro has written about the need to “go digital” and for OKRs it’s also best to use a specific digital OKR tool. While spreadsheets work well for getting started with personal OKRs but in order to get people engaged with their goals you need a more user friendly and simple solution.

Combining OKRs with HR tools.

It’s important to understand that OKRs are not a magic tool that solves all my problems. Rather I’d say, it is a system to enhances and revitalize standard reporting and employee management systems. When you look at the work trends for 2018, it’s clear that the focus has to be on employees and their wellbeing. OKRs help with that but you need all involved to believe in it and participate.  If it’s hard to convince your entire company to try something like that (and it usually is), start with a small team and soon enough others will follow. Employees are the greatest resource of any team or company. They are the ones who create, innovate and achieve business results. It’s our job as leaders and managers to help them become the best at what they do.

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