The world is still reeling from the effects of the Great Resignation and fears of the upcoming recession with a record number of people leaving their jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. While this has continued well into 2022, the question remains –Why are employees leaving their companies?
Over half of workers (56%) said pay is a top reason they’d look for a job with a different employer, according to the survey. Forty-one percent would leave for a 5% increase.
Of course, this needs a deeper look. A recent study by Microsoft: Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work, talks about how employees’ have a new ‘worth it' equation – “Perks like free food and a corner office are no longer what people value most." So how are companies responding to ensure that they can retain employees while growing in volatile business conditions?
To survive the pandemic, companies had to rely heavily on the ability to rapidly shift their culture while performing at a sustainable rate. This meant adopting remote or hybrid work policies. For most traditional setups, it marked the end of an era because they had never implemented hybrid work.` What they learned was that when done right, remote work allows teams to focus on what really matters— the company’s performance and growth. Over the last two years, organizations have come to agree on one thing: They must figure out effective ways to overcome the limitations exerted by distance, and aligning remote teams in the right direction is crucial to the success of a remote or hybrid workplace.
Aligning hybrid teams which are dispersed as per location, time zones, and mode of working, many of whom would be virtually onboarded and remote forever, requires deliberate thinking, and a strategic approach towards connecting the company mission to metrics that most matter. This is where OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) come in.
The OKRs framework has become increasingly popular thanks to the success stories of Google, LinkedIn, and Spotify – and even more heavily so after the pandemic to connect teams to company goals. OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is a strategy-execution framework that creates a cultural shift within organizations, going from task-focused to outcome-focused. This is especially useful for remote teams so that they can connect their efforts to company objectives, stay engaged with organizational growth, and collaborate across teams to achieve milestones.
Learn how Talview not only implemented OKRs but used it to make the best of teams even as remote work became the need of the hour. Their journey is a clear example of the power of good OKR implementation, especially in uncertain times. Get the case study here.
O - Objectives: This is the 'Big What and Why' - where the key question is: What do we need to achieve and why do we need to achieve it?
KR - Key Result: These are the metrics you choose to measure progress towards, where the question is: How do we measure success?
Tasks/Initiatives - Although not a part of the phrase 'OKR', these are equally important. These are the actions towards achieving your goal, the question being: What do we need to do to get there?
OKRs are about critical thinking and optimizing the bridge between strategy to execution, by helping teams cherry-pick the metrics which are most important to move the needle on business.
New to OKRs? Try our free course to help you with the basics.
With hybrid teams, it becomes easier for organizations to take advantage of a much more global pool of employees. This sounds great, except for the obstacles faced in working together while living in different timings, cultures, and routines. How do OKRs step in to streamline communication and manage attention?
OKRs work on the principle of “moving the focus from ‘me’ to ‘we.’ By transparently mapping the team’s contribution to company-level outcomes, OKRs aid in clear communication and collaboration. Objectives are written at company-level and team levels, then bi-directionally and cross-functionally aligned so that it is clear how each team will influence the company-level key results. This keeps the conversations outcome-focused at all times.
Teams take ownership of their activities, tasks, and initiatives to achieve business objectives by the end of the quarter. They are coached to work in alignment with the company’s strategic priorities by the team manager.
Key Results help managers and leaders visualize the link between progress and activities so that everyone is working in the same direction. With OKRs, leaders make the change from giving instructions to building accountability and ownership amongst teams.
Managers can be more than mere managers - they can become effective leaders with OKRs. Effective team leaders drive focused communication by asking powerful questions and teaching teams how to prioritize activities that can move the business forward.
In the OKR framework, the team leader is known as the OKR champion. An OKR champion is a member of the team who owns and runs the weekly check-ins on team OKR progress, team updates, and highlights obstacles that will become blockers to achieving the goals of the team. They represent their team during leadership with insights and patterns of the team’s OKR performance and how the team has contributed to business metrics. Champions drive progress by helping team members stay motivated and engaged.
OKRs bring in the element of responsible delegation and preparing different team members to own OKR progress accountability, in tune with building critical thinking and leadership skills.
When we say “celebrate efforts,” we’re not talking about performance bonuses. People make a common mistake when they connect OKRs with KPIs, but here are a few reasons why OKRs and performance reviews are different. OKRs allow each employee to visualize how their daily activities contribute toward moving the business forward, giving them a sense of belonging that can go a long way in remote work.
Including teams in the goal-setting process helps keep employees engaged with the vision and mission of the organization. When setting OKRs, the teams choose how they will influence business metrics within the quarter. Each metric is assigned an owner to drive progress and track if employee efforts are aligned toward strategic priorities. When regular check-ins are backed by CFRs, teams can use OKRs to measure their contribution and progress towards org-level goals.
This is why OKRs are backed by CFRs (conversations, feedback, and recognition). The best way to show employees recognition for their work is to allow them autonomy and ownership of their efforts. CRFs create opportunities to recognize team and individual efforts while building a balance of ownership and accountability.
Connect and Align is a key ritual where the quarter’s OKRs are reviewed by leadership and experts.
Alignment is the secret sauce in OKRs. OKRs are vertically and bi-directionally or cross-functionally aligned. Connect and Align also calls out
This creates much-needed clarity in hybrid workplaces where managers cannot always control what team members are working on. Alignment ensures that everyone is contributing in the right direction, removing the need to micro-manage employees.
When all employees and teams across the organization can connect their activities to larger organizational outcomes, that is when alignment sets in. OKRs also encourage teams to form squads (a small unit of members from different teams) who work together to achieve a strategic milestone. This shift in culture helps employees focus on achieving company outcomes, rather than hurrying through an endless task list.
“Giving people agency to do their best work is not only in their best interest—it’s good for business. To make hybrid work work, leaders need to empower managers to be the culture keepers, rethink the role of the office, rebuild social capital for a digital-first workforce, and create new practices for sustainable flexible work. Technology plays a key role, but this moment calls for a new mindset. As the world continues to evolve, organizations that take a culture-first, learn-it-all approach will come out ahead.”
- Microsoft's 2022 Work Trend Index (WTI) report – Great Expectations: Making Hybrid Work Work
In these harsh climates of resignation and recession, no one can predict if the next setback is just around the corner. What’s your take on how companies are negotiating these conditions with unknown factors?
A good leader knows that happy employees create happy customers. This is why people are switching to OKRs to empower teams.
I mean, who wouldn’t want to work with confident employees who do this in the face of a challenge?
On a more serious note, companies need to be agile and keep employees happy if they want to survive these VUCA changes. Many business leaders have looked into OKRs as a solution to build agility and an outcome-focused culture as a response, however, the key to success with OKRs lies in correct onboarding and implementation.
Remote teams choose OKRs because they need to manage a global pool of employees - this can only happen if they build accountability in teams and leadership in managers. Over the challenges exerted by distance, keeping employees engaged with the mission and vision of the company is vital. OKRs help everyone connect and align to contribute directly toward business metrics and measure progress towards outcomes.
It can be argued that an integrated approach to onboarding OKRs (one that includes both software and coaching) is the ideal solution. At Fitbots OKRs, we have coached over 4,000+ teams to undergo successful OKR onboarding and implementation. Get in touch with us to align your company’s mission to metrics and grow at a sustainable rate while navigating business priorities. Rapid setbacks will continue to vex companies, but a good strategy will decide how your business comes out ahead. At the end of the day, your strategy is only as good as your execution.
Bani is an OKR enthusiast who anchors content and marketing at Fitbots OKRs. She loves spreading the love of OKRs to enrich workplaces and collaborating to create engaging content for her readers.
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