Employees who enjoy their work and are motivated to contribute to the success of the company are the dream of every management. But how do you create the necessary incentives to keep workforce motivation high?
A crucial factor here is the interplay between awareness and responsibility for one’s own goals. What sounds banal at first, remains unconsidered in many companies, however: Most employees, from factory workers to IT managers, are exposed – not least thanks to modern means of communication – to a constant flood of tasks that are difficult to keep track of and prioritize in a meaningful way.
For focused and thus motivating work, employees often lack two crucial pieces of information:
One way to address this problem is to provide constant transparency on these very questions. Dashboards that are visible to the public can help here. On these dashboards, so-called OKRs are defined: Objectives and Key Results.
what does OKR actually stand for?
The abbreviation OKR stands for “Objectives and Key Results”.
The so-called “objective” is a qualitative goal that an entire company or department defines for itself. This can be, for example, an increase in performance in a certain area of activity. The importance of the objective must be apparent to all involved, but it should not be directly measurable.
In contrast, the “Key Results”, of which each objective is assigned three, are concrete and measurable. They clearly define the criteria for achieving the set goal and can be based on anything that is measurable: for example, growth, sales, participation, or performance.
agile management through the OKR method.
Behind the term OKR lies an agile management method that has been driving many of the American big players for years and is now also attracting more and more attention in Germany. In fact, many proponents go so far as to see it as a cornerstone of the ongoing success of Google, Intel, and many others.
The central idea behind this approach is to make better use of the potential that lies in employees’ attitudes towards their work: When they are well-informed about current goals and how to get there, each step in the work process takes on a higher value. This is partly because mutually agreed objectives are given the kind of focus that is necessary in the face of a constant flood of tasks. This focus away from non-goals and irrelevant tasks takes the pressure off employees and significantly reduces distracting sources of stress.
example and implementation of an OKR dashboard.
Our template shows you how a typical OKR dashboard works schematically. It first outlines the goals, i.e., the Objectives, then lists the associated Key Results and documents the current progress for each Key Result, which is then aggregated to an overall summary of progress.
The Objectives should be defined for a fixed time frame so that they are recorded as a clear goal, as can be seen in the example, the deadlines can also vary among themselves. The associated Key Results should be chosen ambitiously, i.e., they should not be too easy to achieve. Nevertheless, they should be within the bounds of what is achievable so as not to demotivate employees. The theory is that Key Results with an adequate level should be achieved to about 60-80 percent at the end of the period to achieve maximum motivation.
OKRs – the opposite of a to-do list.
There are common mistakes that can lead to the failure of OKRs: For example, you should avoid setting too many OKRs or OKRs that are too finely divided. This quickly leads to old problems reappearing, namely lots of unimportant tasks. Thus, the necessary focus is lost.
Furthermore, putting concrete action instructions in the defined key results is not advisable. This causes the method to lose its character of helping the team gain more ownership and motivation, and the OKRs quickly become an old-fashioned to-do list again.
Also, refrain from tying wages to OKRs. Especially with ongoing adjustments, this leads to losing the real goal of developing meaning, progress, and success in one’s work. Instead, OKRs should be set in a way that creates a strong commitment among employees to achieve performance improvements. This may then lead to a salary increase in the medium or long term.
focus, motivation, and efficiency through OKRs.
Once a team has established an OKR, however, it should not let the formulated goals disappear in a drawer and only check whether they were successful after the defined timeframe. The defined key results should be reflected on in regular feedback meetings: Team members then analyze together where they stand in relation to their goals, what actual progress or lack of progress can be attributed to, and what they may need to adjust. Involving all employees in strategic tasks also sends a signal of appreciation and trust to the workforce, which acts as a further motivating factor. This combination of fixed goals and self-organized work steps makes OKRs agile.
motivation through modern communication culture.
The last crucial aspect for successful OKRs is the clear communication of goals to the entire workforce – ideally on a digital basis directly in the warehouse or on the shop floor – as well as the public presentation of progress. This includes ensuring that all relevant progress information is constantly available on the OKR dashboard in real time.
This brings the company’s progress to the public’s attention and gives employees a sense of how effective their own work is as well as of the overall progress of the team. This provides everyone with a conversational basis to both informally share company goals and meaningfully engage in the appropriate feedback conversations. The associated communication culture raises the potential across the workforce and enables every industry, company size and department to achieve more with existing resources in all value creation processes.
Try the Peakboard Designer and create your individual OKR dashboard.