With an eye on achieving bottom-line goals and desired return on investment (ROI), too often, organizations let performance management fall to the wayside. In fact, in a survey published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, only 28% of executives and middle managers responsible for executing strategy could list three of their company’s strategic priorities. This gap is common at every level of the organization.
To effectively establish a collaborative culture of continuous feedback, companies must bridge the gaps among goal setting, goal attainment and performance reviews. Goal setting starts in the C-suite with a big idea, but as it trickles down an organization, methods for goal attainment are not always aligned with the ROI their actions are seeking to reach.
Many leaders turn to an objective and key results (OKR) methodology to try to bridge that gap. While the traditional approach to OKRs emphasized methodology, its next evolution focuses on its practical implementation and democratization through software platforms driven by data analytics and automation.
The interplay between “objective” and “key result” is clear: Objectives are qualitative, aspirational and do not include numbers. Key results are quantitative and, perhaps most importantly, driven by actionable analytics. Of course, that second component — actionable analytics — is often easier said than done. The most successful companies find ways to marry aspirational objectives to analytics-driven key results.
Many OKR implementations fail the first time if the company relies on the methodology alone, because employees and managers alike have the tendency to “set it and forget it.” In other words, at the beginning of the quarter, they write out objectives, but they don’t use them to evaluate performance — at least not until it’s too late to correct. The simple fact is that regularly updating the progress of key results at an enterprise scale has been arduous. As a result, performance management can be stop-and-start, with managers updating progress at the end of a quarter, when performance feedback can only have a minimal impact.
This issue is quickly disappearing as startups develop software and tools that can collect actionable, real-time insights at multiple points of an employee’s tenure at the organization. These real-time analytics and data-driven insights enable managers to set and revise their strategy to make sure the company meets its goals while also providing collaborative and continuous feedback to employees on their performance.
In today’s fast-paced business environment, managers shouldn’t wait until the annual review to identify performance issues and potential gaps in goal achievement. Tracking progress in real time and collaborating through regular reviews will help managers keep their finger on the pulse. Platforms offering automated data processing, like dynamic key results made possible through automation, are the next transformation in improving performance management and reviews and making them more agile. They help scale transparent clarity, track activity, and provide fascinating data insights into how well (or not so well) the organization is performing at every level.
Because these platforms are automated and integrated to pull real-time data and insights into dashboards, they lay out the progress of an individual, team or organization depending on which objective the user is monitoring — and do so without manual input or updating. The arduous process of OKRing, thus, gives way to an “Aha!” experience of seamless and regular progress updates.