How Applying Objective and Key Results (OKRs) Will Revolutionize Your HR Process


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A business’s employees are its leading expense, however, they aren’t always the most productive. According to a study by Harvard Business Review, “95% of employees do not fully understand the company’s goals or what’s expected of them.” And this is the main problem. Your employees and teams do not have clear ideas about the objectives, because of which their performance and results are majorly affected.

What are OKRs?

This is where Objective and Key Results come in. They are a robust methodology that keeps track of your business’s or specific project’s goals and how well they are able to achieve key results.

OKRs help execute strategies through objective deployment within individuals and teams of an organization.

OKR’s are quickly becoming the go-to management tool because of their ability to generate productive results. Their systems are applicable to most industries with major organizations like Dropbox, Google, Twitter and Disney applying OKRs to increase productivity and generate targeted results.

There have been other goal based systems like the Hoshin Kanri, Balanced Scorecard and Management by Objectives. But where they failed in terms of agility and flexibility, OKR delivers. OKR focuses on one Objective and multiple Key Results. The Objective would be the result or goal while the key results will use the Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound theory, better known as the S.M.A.R.T theory. Key Results use performance indicators specific to the goals to assess whether the milestones or Objectives are achieved.

What makes OKRs successful?

Though the implementation of OKRs is different in every organization, there are some fundamentals that most organizations follow. The objectives could be set quarterly or weekly, and at personal or team levels.

What makes OKRs extremely successful is their achievable goals. The key objective is to make the goals achievable within the time frame provided, but at the same time, pushing the team members to actually meet those objectives. It is generally said of OKRs, that if you are achieving all your objectives through this system, then you aren’t really shooting high enough.

The fact is, businesses are moving towards a millennial workforce, and millennial engagement and productivity tactics need a makeover too. And OKRs do that beautifully because they help manage everyone’s interests and goals.

How can OKRs help HR teams?

HR teams are generally the heart of a business. They interact with everyone and are always on top of matters happening all around the company. Since they interact at all levels, they offer a clearer view of what all needs to be done. The fact is, numerical results provide a better idea of what needs to be done and what areas of performance are lagging.

The fact is, without accountability and performance metrics, there is no way for businesses to generate long term results. The HR is the bridge between employees and employers, so they need to ensure that all the right numbers are met; but more importantly, that they are met with satisfaction at 100% from all ends. Having powerful HR strategies at your arsenal able to implement policies and make sure that the team members happily embark on them. Having clear objectives and defined roles helps motivate employees while meeting long-term and short-term company objectives.

Following are just some of the many benefits that OKR can offer HR teams in terms of productivity and recognition:

  • It can help promote and implement the company culture.
  • Make conscious efforts to improve team engagement.
  • Help decrease employee turnover.
  • Better outline job responsibilities and manage workload.
  • Help embrace and promote gender diversity within teams with the help of targeted OKR implementation.

What Are Ways HR Teams Can Measure The Success Of Using OKRs?

OKRs are gradually becoming a common practice for goal setting and goal management in most small and big companies. However, they are only successful when they are rightly implemented and monitored. Following are some tips and tips to help implement and measure the success of OKRs:

  • Have Defined Objectives: This has to be the most important step. You cannot just have an objective to ‘improve company culture,’ you need to be more specific. So your objective should be something like ‘demonstrate work-life balance’ or ‘improve engagement between different teams.’ The more specific your goals are, the easier they will be to measure.
  • Make the Objectives Achievable: As much as you’d want to reduce the turnover by 50% in a quarter or increase employee engagement by 30% within a month, these goals aren’t very achievable. The success of an OKR strategy mainly depends on how achievable they actually are.
  • Break It Down Into Smaller Chunks: Smaller goals are much easier to achieve and maintain focus on. Having a goal for the next year just sounds too far away to demand any actionable processes immediately. Having short-term OKRs to meet long term objectives helps keep everyone motivated. For instance, don’t make an objective to ‘improve employee retention by 30%’ over the next year. Instead, try to reduce employee termination by 10% over the next quarter.
  • Have Defined Metrics: Having a key metric system for evaluating individual and business’s performance makes it easy for you to assess results of your OKR strategies.
  • Use OKR Tools: A profound way to measure the success of OKRs is to use tools and applications that measure the goal execution of specific objectives.
  • Focus on Key Results: Do your Key Results focus on your overall objective? Will they truly be assistive in meeting those objectives? If yes, then by the end of a term, did you meet the key results that you aimed for? Answering these questions will help get a better idea of the success of your OKR strategy.

OKRs are quickly becoming the go-to solution for measuring performance and achieving goals for small and big companies across varied industries. The baseline for a successful OKR strategy is to truly understand the long term goals and objectives of the company as well as the core responsibilities of the people working there.

But this can also be considered for external purposes as well. For instance, let’s say you were looking to network in the D.C. region and you make the decision to attend a marketing conference in D.C. in 2020. You need to ask yourself, “Does this decision meet my company’s objectives and key results?”

HR of your company needs to be able to align the goals of your company with those of your employees in order to maintain focus and motivation within team members. And most importantly, you need to continuously assess and measure the results of your OKR strategies for better future implementation.