The idea of implementing an operating framework for growth at any company can be overwhelming. From executive level buy-in to rolling out a structure across every team, it can be a tall task for even the best strategy and operations leaders.
At Elate, we have the opportunity to partner alongside companies as they think about how they scale their business and the process needed to take their company to the next level. Time and time again we hear the question, 'How do you recommend rolling out a solution like Elate to our company?'
Usually this question comes with the baggage of failed or incomplete OKR rollouts that didn't stick.
While our team is bullish on the idea that any operating framework should start by establishing a rhythm, cadence, and framework at the leadership level, we also believe that over time you need to cascade OKRs throughout your organization.
From seeing hundreds (probably thousands) of OKR examples, we wanted to spend some time specifically discussing what OKRs should look like for employees that might not be on the leadership or management teams.
Start with Why?
Believe it or not, most employees likely don't know how to set OKRs. For those of us that live and breathe in the world of company priorities and objectives, we can sometimes get lost in the simple fact that many employees have never been given the opportunity to build their own objectives that align with the company's overall direction.
So keeping this in mind, when you are ready to roll out OKRs to your organization, we always recommend starting with a guided tutorial explaining why you are asking employees to build a new rhythm into their week.
And don't be fooled, even if it's as simple as providing a weekly update via Slack or even automating it from data pulled through integrations, employees will see this as just another thing they have to do. Unless of course, they understand the 'why' behind it.
At Elate, we often build custom training sessions for companies to walk through an overview of the OKR methodology, how it's relevant to your company, and even share your specific company’s OKR examples. This helps align folks around the vision and direction for the company, and construct OKRs in a meaningful way.
Building Personal OKR Templates
Once you start by addressing the 'why', now you can progress to the 'how'. For many employees, the idea of setting and owning their own objectives can be incredibly rewarding. You're instilling not only a sense of purpose, but also validation for the work they are producing every day.
However, we've found that guiding individuals early on by structuring OKRs in a simple, intuitive way leads to better adoption. That is why we pre-build a personal OKRs template in Elate that focuses on three areas:
1. What am I focused on this quarter and how will it impact the company? The only way any employee can answer this question is by having a clear understanding of company direction and themes.
2. How will I measure success? Will I be tracking my own metrics or can I connect Salesforce, Hubspot, Jira, etc. to automate tracking for me?
3. How am I doing on my objective? What updates can be shared with leadership to help me stay on track or accelerate past my goal? Whether they are blockers, challenges, or highlights, we want to make it easy to surface information to the right people.
If you’re interested in learning more about building a personal OKR template, you can learn more from our previous post to get started.
Focus on Outcomes
If you ask employees to really spend time and effort building their objectives, then it can't simply be a set it and forget it structure. So now comes the part where you have to set your employees up for success.
There are plenty of OKR books and 'how to's' focused on real OKR examples, but even the most well-written OKR will fall short if there isn't a feedback loop or cadence built into your company's structure.
This is where it becomes critical to have an OKR dashboard that surfaces insights to you and the rest of the leadership team. Understanding what's ahead of plan, at risk, or falling behind can make or break, not only quarterly OKRs, but also your company's long term goals.
At Elate, we've built reporting to automate the manual process of tracking down OKRs across the business and surfacing this information in a meaningful way to leadership.
So often we get asked the difference of an OKR vs KPI, because companies implement OKRs only to fall into the trap of no longer getting visibility into outcomes and objective data tied to performance. Make sure you have a scalable, effective way to report on objectives and key results in a meaningful way.
OKRs for Employees
So there you have it. If you're looking for a way to roll out personal OKRs at work for your employees, don't lose sight of the bigger vision. Employees should understand why they are being asked to build and track their objectives, how they are going to do it, and how they will be empowered to take ownership of their goals.
If you'd like to learn how Elate is working with other strategy and operations leaders to successfully implement and run their operating frameworks, reach out to our team today. We'd love to share more!