How OKRs and Continuous Performance Management® put my Company (and Career) in the Fast Lane
When you think about your performance management process, how often are you left feeling confused and annoyed, rather than motivated? If you’re like me, the answer is too often. And this is a huge problem.
Employees leave because of a lack of engagement, an opportunity for growth, recognition, and most importantly, a lack of purpose. Studies have found that the average duration a millennial will stay at their organization is about two years. I had almost met that benchmark at my last company, but I knew that I wasn’t growing as fast I wanted there, nor did I feel the connection of my work to the success of the company.
At my previous company, I never saw or understood what the top goals of our company were. While I communicated with my boss in the sales organization about day-to-day duties to close deals, there was a clear disconnect between the front line employees and what the Core Executive Team was most concerned with. It was like a scene taken from The Wizard of Oz; only the Core Executive Team was allowed to see what was “behind the curtain,” while the rest of us were left in the dark, wondering what to do next.
At B&Co, the story is much different. We utilize a method of goal setting called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as an integral part of our overall Continuous Performance Management program. Our CEO and core team’s objectives are written and publicly visible for the rest of the company to see, and as a result, it’s easy to see what the company’s focus is and where the areas for improvement are. This makes it easy to align my own objectives to help achieve those strategic goals.
At my former company, we never used OKRs, and it was impossible to see what my colleagues were working on or how they were developing their careers. When one colleague eventually got a promotion, it stirred a lot of confusion (and frustration) amongst our team. Most of us had gone through the same training program, and it was hard to understand what this person had done differently to merit that recognition. The end result was a demotivated and discouraged workforce. Attrition rates soared, as employees began to see that their efforts would be better served (and recognized) at other companies. Today, fewer than 10% of my original cohort remain at that company.
Using OKRs eliminates this sense of ambiguity. In my current role, it’s easy to see what my colleagues are working on, and how they are tracking towards achieving their goals. The end result is a transparent organization; either you have completed your objective or you haven’t, and if you are behind it’s easy for a colleague or manager to chime in and help since everyone can see your objectives and goals.
But OKRs aren’t enough on their own; the fact that we embed them as part of a larger Continuous Performance Management program is what brings them to life. By embedding OKRs within Continuous Performance Management, organizations can facilitate rapid course correcting and a much quicker path to improvement. In my current role, my boss and I will discuss current challenges and wins as well as stretch goals that pertain to my overall career development on a weekly basis. This helps me I feel like I’m making quick improvements towards the necessary skill sets to advance my career, and assures me that upper management cares about my well being versus being just a cog in the wheel.
As an employee with firsthand experience of the impact that the OKRs and Continuous Performance Management can make, I can say that I feel much more engaged, aligned, productive, and satisfied with my work. OKRs have the incredible ability to dispel office politics and reduce bias while emphasizing the most important tasks at hand. The resulting culture of transparency and improved collaboration makes teams much more effective at getting things done. The continuous feedback and conversations I have with my manager and colleagues throughout the organization ensure I’m gaining the right skill sets to contribute to key business objectives while also leveling up my career.