Updated: Aug 4, 2020
A good way for making your business goal clear to people at various levels in the company is by converting objectives into key results or employing the OKR methodology.
This starts with top leadership setting the company’s objectives, a process that can be done annually, quarterly or monthly, depending on the size of the company or the complexity of current objectives.
Once this is sorted out at the executive level, employees set their individual objectives that are aligned with their team’s and company’s goals. Normally, employees might find it difficult to translate objectives into action. This is what key results are for, as they convert objectives into concrete steps.
Here are four questions you should ask when defining objectives as key results:
1. Have you aligned your objectives?
Big-picture objectives can be challenging for employees to align with since some job descriptions are not directly related to them. For example, a dietician or a cafeteria manager for a production company might be hard-pressed to identify ways his or her job can help the company secure new advertising contracts every month.
Translating objectives from executive to department level promotes organisational alignment. At the level of their teams, their roles become more aligned to the goals, and employees can provide better metrics for how they can contribute to success.
2. Are your objectives well-defined?
S.M.A.R.T. is a well-known acronym in management; it guides the formulation of everything from goals to assessments. For this, objectives must be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. For your objectives to translate smoothly into key results, you must ensure that they are defined in this way.
It will be great if your company could achieve all its objectives in the time frame specified; however, sometimes businesses fall short of their goals. Well-defined objectives ensure that the next time your organisation sets goals, you will be guided by a clear paper trail of what went right and what needs to be improved.
3. Are you fixated on stretch goals?
Managers will often set stretch goals to motivate their team. It is good to keep employees’ focus on these additional key results, as it gives them a way to improve their skills while staying true to the objectives for this time frame.
However, being fixated on stretch goals can leave people demoralised or frustrated, especially when they cannot deliver. Highlight the importance of meeting these additional results, but remind them that their primary focus should be on delivering the baseline objectives.
4. Do you have intermediate goals within key results?
Identifying what you need to do to get key results breaks the process down into manageable chunks. This helps your employees to focus on what needs to be done now and what can be put off for another phase. Mini-goals keep people motivated because they are evidence that their efforts are leading up to meaningful results.
5. Do you recognise people who achieve key results?
Recognising people who make significant contributions to achieving a milestone can bring your team together and provide a morale boost. When you show that you take note of positive behaviour, employees are more likely to keep displaying these behaviours. Self-motivated individuals can consider your encouragement as a positive sign that they are on the right track.
Setting objectives and key results will help your company direct its efforts logically. Growing a company requires people from all levels to be purposeful. Having a well-defined OKRs is a step in the right direction.
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