Organizations of all sizes who are looking to win the war on talent must lean into an employee-centric culture that inspires people through engagement and collaboration.
OKRs help executives and managers create a common language for the entire enterprise to discuss what’s valuable–namely, the company’s mission and its strategy for achieving that mission.
We’ve all heard it: people are resigning in droves. And it turns out that company culture has played a large role in the exodus. Culture was the single biggest indicator of which enterprises lost employees during the start of the Great Resignation, according to the MIT Sloan Management Review.
And a recent LinkedIn Global Talent Trends report shows that today’s job seekers are no longer settling for a subpar corporate culture. In fact, people are looking at almost twice as many job posts as they did just a few years ago, stopping at those that elaborate on culture. (Take note, Hiring and HR teams: that’s a 67% engagement boost when a job post mentions culture.)
So, what are today’s knowledge workers looking for in a company culture?
Many organizations have a misguided view of culture. They focus on company rituals and special occasions when what employees really want is a corporate culture that values meaningful work, collaboration, and goal achievement. After all, culture isn’t just holiday parties, happy hours, and taco Tuesdays. Culture dictates how people work and the unique qualities that make an organization successful and is shaped by who you hire, fire, reward, or reprimand.
As the Great Resignation gives way to the Great Reshuffle, organizations of all sizes and in all industries who are looking to win the war on talent must lean into an employee-centric culture that inspires people through engagement, collaboration, and reciprocal accountability. Here’s how:
Knowledge workers, those one billion employees who sit behind desks and provide business value with their brainpower, need engagement to thrive. They need to know exactly what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and how it benefits their coworkers, organizations, and customers.
But creating the kind of open, communicative culture that unlocks engagement is hard. And maintaining consistent communication with remote or hybrid teams or when scaling an enterprise is even harder.
That’s why some of the most successful modern enterprises (think Google) use a management and goal-setting methodology called objectives and key results or OKRs. OKRs help executives and managers create a common language for the entire enterprise to discuss what’s valuable–namely, the company’s mission and its strategy for achieving that mission.
The company’s strategy and mission become the foundation for the core of the OKRs methodology — every employee and team sets ambitious goals and measurable results to be achieved over a certain period of time. And because all business activities should support the organization, all OKRs flow from the stated mission and strategy. As a result, employees at every level can see how their responsibilities advance the company’s success. And this connection to meaningful work inspires a culture of engagement and purpose.
How organizations adopt and maintain the OKRs methodology?
OKRs, or at least the roots of the methodology, have been around since the 1950s, but dedicated OKRs technology makes it easier to adopt, implement and scale in the modern workplace. Using a platform, everyone across the enterprise has visibility into the organizational strategy, as well as all team and individual OKRs. They can all see how their team and individual efforts lift up the entire organization — and if they’re moving the needle.
There’s little doubt that the future of work is hybrid. But organizations walk a fine line between offering a culture of freedom to work from anywhere and a culture of silos and isolation. The antidote is connectedness through collaboration.
OKRs themselves embody collaboration. Setting team and individual OKRs should be negotiated between managers and the OKRs’ owners. Managers may set overly ambitious goals; employees may set conservative goals (especially in environments where hitting KPI targets are rewarded) and together they meet somewhere in the middle to set reasonably ambitious goals. This collaboration continues well after the OKRs are established. They are tracked and reassessed over time. After all, OKRs are solution agnostic and designed to keep organizations agile and capable of responding to threats and opportunities.
Thoughtful OKRs aren’t just developed collaboratively; they also enable collaboration. Whether remote or office-based, employees need visibility into what’s happening around them to transcend natural department silos and a “going it alone” mindset.
OKRs help employees understand what everyone is working on by creating a web of objectives that tie one colleague’s roles and responsibilities to another’s and anchor them to larger company priorities. By pinpointing related objectives, OKRs show the interconnectedness of each employee’s responsibilities. This objective mapping helps employees coordinate across reporting lines, enable cross-functional teams, and cultivate a collaborative culture.
The OKRs methodology prioritizes measurable outcomes (what the business wants to accomplish) over outputs (the actions needed to achieve those outcomes). And this laser focus on results sets crystal clear expectations for employees and teams, so they can succeed.
Of course, things don’t always go according to plan in the real world. So, the accountable culture that OKRs build must go both ways. Both managers and employees need to own things that don’t go well. And, with the measurable results, OKRs provide, seeing success or failure isn’t hard.
There are no surprises with an effective OKRs platform. Real-time data shows employees how their efforts are (or aren’t) progressing toward their goals while leaders get a bird’s eye view of activity. Analytics, progress monitoring, and OKR auditing allow managers and executives to track progress and make changes when necessary.
This OKR-enabled accountability has another benefit for employees and leaders alike. It eliminates micromanagement. With each employee and team understanding the outcomes they own; managers can focus on supporting their teams instead of looking over employees’ shoulders all day.
Superficial perks are nice to have, but they are often just distractions. Instead of attracting and maintaining talent solely through corporate perks, organizations should focus on what makes a modern workforce thrive: workplace engagement, collaboration, and accountability.
To build great teams that can crush OKRs, it’s critical that you hire the right person for the right role. The right people in the right seats are critical to the success of any organization. We give organizations the tools, framework, and education so they can consistently attract, hire and keep – happily engaged employees!