11 Best OKR Software You Need to Know About (2022 Edition)

Read this article to find out the pros, cons and key features of the 11 best OKR software in the market today along with tips on buying what you need

7

min read

With the growing importance of goal setting and achievement across industries, the implementation of the OKR framework is on the rise. Consequently, most organizations are adopting OKR software to facilitate the process of setting and achieving company goals through Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). 

In this article, we seek to help growing organizations make an informed choice when it comes to buying the right OKR software. We will not only discuss the features to look out for, but also give you a comparative analysis of the best OKR software available in the market to decide which is best for your needs. 

OKR software key features: What not to miss

An OKR software is bound to have multiple features depending on its target users and level of advancement. However, for growing organizations, there are a few features that are a must have and should not be missed, including:

  • Ability to collaboratively set OKRs
  • Option to see OKRs visually that increases goal and progress transparency
  • Clear bifurcation between objectives and key results
  • Offer the flexibility to prioritize between different OKRs
  • Empower organizations to track OKR progress in real time
  • Provide insights on OKR progress with action plan
  • Offer OKR coaching to help managers leverage OKR benefits
  • Provide integrations with existing meeting tools and other commonly used communication and project management software (such as JIRA, Slack, MS Teams etc.)
  • Enable team members and managers  to create weekly OKR plans

Read: How to choose the right OKR software for a more detailed understanding of how to understand your OKR needs and find a suitable solution

Benefits of using an OKR software

There are several benefits of using an OKR software. Right from helping teams get on the same page, to facilitating greater accountability. Here is a quick snapshot of the possible advantage that OKR software enables:

1. Automated follow ups

One of the top benefits of OKR software is that it automates follow ups and nudges with the power of RPA to ensure that everyone regularly updates their progress on each OKR. This helps in grading OKR achievement as well as enables managers to gauge whether or not performance is on track.

2. Better goal transparency

Second, OKR software creates goal transparency for all. This way, everyone is able to visualize the goals in the same way and keep track of each other’s performance as well. 

3. Real time insights

An OKR software driven by AI also has the potential to help managers with real time insights. With an integrated dashboard, managers can monitor OKR performance and address any risks or challenges preemptively.

4. OKR coaching

Finally, another benefit of OKR software is that it also has the potential to help managers with OKR coaching which includes setting, monitoring and grading OKRs in the most effective manner. Furthermore, it can help managers align OKRs with 1:1 conversations with their team members via guided templates to ensure productive meetings. 

Read: How to calculate the Return on Investment (ROI) of using an OKR software to understand and measure real tangible benefits of OKR tools

11 best OKR software in 2022

Without much ado, let’s quickly explore the top 11 OKR software available in the market today. 

  • SuperBeings: Integrated OKR tool with performance management and employee engagement support
  • Betterworks: OKR software to help managers identify strengths and reward innovation
  • Leapsome: People enablement platform with the ability to set up recurring goal cycles with fixed timelines
  • Profit.co: OKR software with free functionalities for 5 team members
  • Culture Amp: Employee engagement and performance management solution with customizable OKR templates
  • 15Five: OKR and performance management platform backed by research from The Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa) 
  • Weekdone: OKR tool with software and coaching capabilities
  • Gtmhub: OKR software with 200+ OKR examples for all teams
  • Engagedly: OKR software with robust goal visibility, statistics and tracking
  • Lattice: People success platform for OKR tracking with customizable goal weighting
  • Ally.io: OKR software providing OKR readiness and acceleration program

1. SuperBeings

Promotes breaking down company objectives into day-to-day projects to drive results

SuperBeings OKR software

Key features

  • Assign OKR champion — set accountability for top goals
  • OKR weights — Allocate different weight to OKRs to clarify priorities
  • Manager approval workflow for individual OKRs — review employee goals as you go
  • OKR coaching to managers by top industry experts 
  • Easier, timely and hassle-free OKR check-in with integrated Meetings tool
  • Integrations with top productivity and communication tools

Pros

  • Real time insights on day-to-day OKR progress
  • Assign owners for each objective, task and project
  • OKR coaching and onboarding support for powerful 1:1s

Cons

  • Mobile app is not yet available

Pricing

The pricing for SuperBeings starts at $3.00 per user per month, being one of the lowest in the market with the features and capabilities offered. SuperBeings offers a 21 day free trial

2. Betterworks

Human capital management software focused on OKR based performance management and employee engagement ideal for team with 5+ members

BetterWorks OKR tool

Key features

  • Communicates goals to everyone in the organization
  • Tracks OKR progress along with automated updates
  • Enables managers to identify workforce strengths and opportunities for ambitious goal setting

Pros

  • Reward smart risk taking and innovation
  • Spot opportunities to pivot or improve key strategic initiatives early
  • Clear communication of how each OKR leads to organizational impact

Cons

  • Limited user-friendliness
  • Limited reporting capabilities

Pricing

The Team Edition which is ideal for 5-250 employees is priced at $8.00 per user per month when billed annually. For organizations with 250+ employees, pricing is available on request. There is no free trial available. However, you can watch a pre-recorded product video.

Read: ROI of using an OKR software: Why should you invest in OKR tools

3. Leapsome

People Enablement platform for goals & OKRs management, performance reviews along with employee engagement and 360 feedback support

Leapsome goal management tool

Key features

  • Enables employees to leave comments on goal tracking to provide context
  • Provides automatic progress updates and tracking reminders
  • Offers the option to customize goal visibility at different levels

Pros

  • Ability to set up recurring goal cycles with fixed timelines
  • Increased accountability with progress timelines on dashboard with owner, contributor, and team filters
  • Ability to generate goal tree to highlight ownership

Cons

  • Absence of calendar integration for Outlook users
  • UI is not very attractive

Pricing

Leapsome offers modular pricing for its different products which starts at $6.00 per user per month. Demo is available on request.

4. Profit.co

OKR software integrated with task, performance management, and employee engagement ideal for organizations of any size, free for upto 5 team members

profit.co OKR tool

Key features

  • Offers guided weekly-check in to track progress
  • Provides 7 types of key results to track any type of goals
  • Real-time heatmaps for strategic interventions

Pros

  • KPI library with 400+ inbuilt and custom KPIs
  • OKR templates to create OKRs within 5 minutes for every level
  • Opportunity to collaborate with mentions and tags

Cons

  • Inability to view tasks in Gantt chart format
  • Too many functionalities can be overwhelming in the beginning 

Pricing

Profit.co is free for upto 5 members. The growth plan is priced at $7.00 per user per month, billed annually and the pricing for the enterprise plan is available on request. There is a 30 days free trial available for the growth plan

4. Culture Amp

Employee engagement and performance management solution focused on goal tracking, reviews and development ideal for teams with 25+ employees

cultureamp OKR tracking software

Key features

  • Dynamic goal management with cross-team collaboration
  • Greater OKR visibility
  • Seamless sharing of OKR results and feedback

Pros

  • User friendly, science backed
  • Easily customizable templates
  • Easy tracking of goal progress and alignment on outcomes

Cons

  • Lack of customizable reporting options
  • Limited automation in admin functionalities

Pricing

Culture Amp offers three pricing plans dependent on the team size. Self starter for 25-200 employees, standard for 201-999 employees and enterprise for 1000+ employees. The pricing is available on request. Culture Amp doesn’t offer a free trial. However there is a pre-recorded 3 minute product demo

6. 15Five

Performance management platform with 1-on-1 tools, performance reviews and OKRs capabilities ideal for any team size

15five OKR management software

Key features

  • Tracking of OKRs in real time and weekly check-ins
  • Set individual OKRs and connect them with company goals
  • Reporting insights to identify areas of improvement

Pros

  • Backed by research from The Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa) 
  • Availability of OKR coaching for managers
  • Great reminders to facilitate accountability for weekly progress reporting

Cons

  • Limited dashboard control
  • Lack of Outlook calendar integration

Pricing

15Five’s pricing starts at $8.00 per user per month and increases to $14.00 per user per month depending on the features and capabilities required. 15Five offers a free trial that users can sign up for

7. Ally.io

OKR software to measure goals and track performance for organizations with 12+ team members

ally.io OKR software

Key features

  • OKR readiness and acceleration program for growing organizations
  • Visual dashboards and ability to give different weight to different priorities
  • Comprehensive OKR examples for different organizational levels

Pros

  • OKR coaching and consulting
  • Easily usable OKR templates designed by experts for all teams
  • OKR Check-ins and flexible OKR Scoring with guidance

Cons

  • Intuitiveness of UI is limited
  • OKR hierarchy may be confusing

Pricing

Ally offers two plans, Growth and Enterprise. The Growth plan is priced at $7.00 per user per month, billed annually for a minimum of 12 users. The pricing for Enterprise plan is available. Free trial is available for 14 days.

8. Gtmhub

OKR software for enterprises and non-profits ideal for small, growing and enterprise teams

Gtmhub OKR software

Key features

  • 200+ OKR examples for all teams, including sales, marketing, leadership
  • Multiple ways to view alignment, structure ownership and create accountability
  • 160+ custom made insights for installation and OKR auditing

Pros

  • Integration with Slack, MS Teams
  • Ability to visualize OKRs in one place and customize visibility for better decision making
  • Easy OKR categorization with tags

Cons

  • Some basic functionalities lacking
  • Difficulty in navigation while setting OKRs at times

Pricing

Gtmhub pricing starts at $7.00 per user per month for the start plan and increases as the capabilities and functionalities increase. Free trial is available for basic plans.

9. Engagedly

Performance management software with goal management system and regular check-ins ideal for medium sized organizations with annual OKR budget of $5000+ 

engagedly OKR tools

Key features

  • Easy insights into team performance 
  • Robust goal dashboard for goal visibility, statistics and tracking
  • Align organizational, team, and individual goals with multiple contributors

Pros

  • Real time check-in and progress update
  • Customizable and advanced analytics
  • Real time progress mapping and engagement with threads and discussions

Cons

  • Limited capability for goal customization
  • Some functions can be difficult to work with

Pricing

The starting annual agreement for Engagedly is $5,000. Demo is available on request

10. Lattice

People success platform with a focus on tracking OKR/goals, gathering real-time feedback, 1-on-1 meetings ideal for teams with annual OKR budget of $4000+ 

Lattice OKR tool

Key features

  • Ability to integrate OKRs with 1:1s, performance check-ins
  • Customizable goal weighting
  • Speedy, frictionless surface for setting, tracking, and reflecting on goals

Pros

  • Progress-tracking integrations with JIRA and Salesforce
  • Advanced goal and OKR analytics

Cons

  • Can be difficult to use for some
  • UI has limited intuitive capabilities

Pricing

Lattice is priced at $8.00 per user per month subject to a minimum annual agreement of $4000. You can request a product demo by signing up

11. Weekdone

OKR tool coaching capabilities ideal for small and medium sized organizations

Weekdone OKR tool

Key features

  • Ability to set weekly plans for OKR achievement
  • Personal OKR coaching and live OKR help chat
  • Weekly OKR progress reporting and e-mail

Pros

  • Hierarchy view to visualize goals effectively
  • OKR onboarding to transition from excel sheets to OKR software
  • OKR examples to facilitate an effective start

Cons

  • Set up may be complicated
  • The UX can be difficult to navigate at times

Pricing

Weekdone is free for upto 3 users. The pricing for 4-10 users starts at $90 per month, billed annually and increases as the number of team members increase. There is a free trial available for 14 days for 4 or more users

Top OKR software for startups

Out of the 11 OKR software mentioned above and others, we have curated a list of top OKR software for scaling startups. 

These OKR tools focus on specific needs of fast growing organizations including limited budgets, growing and dynamic teams, limited bandwidth, changing expectations and the need for handholding and OKR coaching from time to time. 

The below section also mentions the specific reasons that make the selected OKR software ideal for startups.

1. SuperBeings

  • Provides the capability to scale up with addition of team members
  • Automated reporting, check-ns and AI recommendations to save time
  • OKR coaching for new managers for goal centered 1:1 conversations
  • Onboarding support for better OKR adaptation
  • Priced at only $3 per user per month 

2. Weekdone

  • Free customization and adaptation
  • Free version for very small teams
  • Specialized OKR coaching

3. Engagedly

  • Automated performance and OKR reviews
  • Highly customizable
  • Advanced analytics

4. Koan (by Gtmhub)

OKR and status tracking software ideal for fast growing organizations with free services option

Key features

  • Align daily operations and fixed goals
  • Insightful weekly goal status update
  • Shared visibility and view of OKRs across the organization

Pros

  • Flexible tracking of OKR progress
  • Tree view to track relationship between objectives and key results
  • Free basic functionalities for unlimited users and teams

Cons

  • 1-o-1 feedback missing
  • Limited customization capabilities

Pricing

Koan offers a free tier for single teams that need basic functionalities. Pro tier with advanced functionalities, integrations, etc. is priced at $6.00 per user per month, billed annually. 30-day free trial is available for Pro version

5. Poplebox

OKR Software to align and track goals and priorities strategically and automatically with a provision for OKR coaching

Key features

  • Presence of OKR coaching to facilitate effectiveness
  • Customizable and presentable dashboards with charts, KPIs & narration
  • Robust integration for data extraction from tools like Jira, MySQL, Hubspot, Google Sheet, etc.

Pros

  • Easy onboarding and zero training time
  • Single dashboard view of all OKRs
  • OKR hand holding with expert coaches

Cons

  • Option to update activities while reviewing own goals missing
  • UX can be better like users have trouble signing in at times

Pricing

The pricing starts at $7.00 per user per month for OKR+ Peformance suite. A demo and a 14-day free trial is available.

Key considerations to choose the best OKR software

Before we conclude, this final section will help you understand that as a growing organization, what are the top 4 things you should consider while making a choice for the best OKR software. Invariably, you will have to assess the features and align them with your needs. In addition you must:

1. Consider the price point

Ensure that the OKR software is well within your budget. You can start with the basic plan for the OKR software mentioned above and then upgrade as per your need. Mostly, your budget should be around $6.00-$8.00 per user per month. 

However, there are a few OKR software that do offer free services upto a certain number of users and SuperBeings which is priced at $3.00 per user per month with varied advanced features. These can be effective choices to help you scale up your OKR commitment effectively. Book a free SuperBeings tria

2. Check for free trial

As a growing organization, you may not have a complete clarity of what exactly you need and commitment to an OKR software without testing it for a few weeks can be challenging.

Therefore, do check with the OKR tools if they offer a free trial. Most of the tools ideal for growing organizations offer free trials for 14-30 days and can help you make an informed choice.

3. Team size

Next, you need to ensure that whichever OKR software you choose, it can support your team size and growth plans. Additionally, some OKR tools have different plans for different numbers of team members. Be cautious while choosing the plan ideal for you. 

If you choose a bigger plan than what you need, you will not only end up spending more, but your team members may also struggle with functionalities that might not be relevant to your use case. 

4. Integrations

Finally, you need to check whether or not the OKR software is offering integrations. It is important to have integrations with your preferred productivity or communication tool to prevent unnecessary context switching to update OKR status, respond to surveys, etc. Most OKR tools like SuperBeings offer comprehensive integrations with Slack, MS Teams, Jira, Asana etc. You need to pick the software that provides the right integration for your team needs. 

Wrapping Up

The OKR framework has proven to help many fast growing organizations in setting strategic goals and achieving them effectively. Adoption of the right OKR software can help you augment the effectiveness of your OKR process with seamless tracking, coaching, insights and much more. 

If interested, book a free demo with SuperBeings today. 21-day free trial. No credit card required

Suggested Reading

How to calculate the ROI of an OKR software

How to find the right OKR software

The ultimate guide to OKRs (downloadable PDF)

Sudeshna Roy

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hi There! I am Sudeshna. At SuperBeings, I lead our content strategy to bring you the best and latest on everything related to people management

Latest posts

OKRs
-
x
min read

Agile and OKRs: What You Need to Know to Thrive in a VUCA World

It is no longer an assumption that the traditional approach to annual goal setting and review has run its course. The VUCA world demands more quick and adaptable business models.

While the agile values and methodology was initially created for software delivery, you can apply the same to transform how you set and achieve your business goals. 

In this article, we will focus on:

  • Relevance of agile and OKRs in the VUCA world
  • Importance of leveraging agile techniques for OKRs
  • Best agile and OKR framework for growing organizations

Why you need to reimagine goal setting in the VUCA world

Traditionally, goal setting has been a very static and long-term process for organizations. Here are a few key components of traditional goal setting and performance management:

  • Annual or multi-year goals with little or no interventions at regular intervals to realign on changing priorities
  • Top-down approach — goals being set by those at the top with minimal inputs from those working on the ground
  • Only annual feedback cycles and the inability to identify or address challenges in real time
  • Lack of flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances or situations, which are uncertain and ambiguous

This form of goal setting and performance management had relevance for organizations operating in steady and stable market conditions. 

However, in today’s VUCA world, the pace of change is skyrocketing and organizations unable to tide with the same are finding it extremely difficult to survive, let alone thrive. 

Some of the reasons to reimagine goal setting for VUCA world include:

  • Increased globalization requires businesses to be agile and adapt to changes at all times
  • Focus on creating short term goals and action plans
  • Need to relook at business priorities due to changing market conditions and customer expectations 
  • Need to incorporate constant feedback from diverse stakeholders
  • Need to focus on collaborative goal setting over top down command

Relevance of agile and OKRs for growing organizations

While it may not be apparent in the first look, agile and OKRs are quite complementary and combining the two can be a great step for growing organizations. Here’s why —

  • OKRs can help you understand the end goal and envision what success will look like. 
  • On the other hand, the agile methodology can enable you to create the right roadmap with frequent experimentation to reach the OKRs successfully. 

Here are a few reasons why you should combine agile and OKRs for your organization:

  • Set shorter goals for each quarter with the flexibility to look at the results in real time
  • Agile iterations based on learning which can be communicated across teams 
  • Shorter feedback cycles which prevent investment losses that might occur if the whole project/ goal has to be reworked
  • Continuous improvement with frequent retrospectives which can enable you to reflect on what is working well
  • Focus on collaborative goal setting and performance management with team autonomy
  • Agile approach to progress tracking

How to use agile techniques for OKRs

Now that it is clear why working agile and OKRs together makes sense for growing organizations, let’s quickly explore the top ways in which you can apply agile techniques to your OKR framework to make goal setting and performance management suitable for the VUCA world. 

Agile Value 1: Individuals and interactions over processes and tools

  • Ensure collaborative OKR setting, assigning OKR champions and the right team members to execute the same
  • Facilitate clear understanding and communication of the intention and expectation behind each OKR and the responsibility for every team member

Agile Value 2: Working software over comprehensive documentation

  • Focus on clear outcomes and key results instead of comprehensive literature on why something is important
  • Facilitate shorter feedback cycles to gauge challenges early on and ensure feasibility of the OKRs
  • Reduce administrative overheads and complex processes related to OKR setting and progress tracking by using a simple, integrated OKR tool

Agile Value 3: Customer collaboration over contract negotiation

  • Ensure continuous development by taking real time feedback from internal customers i.e. stakeholders in the leadership

Agile Value 4: Responding to change over following a plan

  • Facilitate dynamic planning over a static plan with quarterly OKRs
  • Ensure adaptability to change, uncertainty and ambiguity
  • Promote short cadence to gauge achievability and relevance of key results early on

Best agile and OKR framework

In this last section of agile and OKR for better goal setting and performance management, we will uncover the top framework. 

We have combined the best components of different frameworks like waterfall goals, delivery agile, scaling, full stack agile, into a single framework with 5 major components that can help you enhance the complementary potential of agile and OKR 

This approach can help you leverage the benefits of agile methodologies and OKR framework to impact all aspects of organizational structure for achievement of goals, including the culture, strategy, initiatives, tactics, etc. The framework is premised on:

1. Create value based OKRs

  • Focus on creating value based OKRs instead of activity based
  • Activity based OKRs are effective for specific projects, but for organizational goals, the focus should be on value
  • Instead of focusing only on the outcomes, have a clear understanding about how each of the outcomes can create value for the organization
  • The activities for each OKR should be a part of the agile roadmap and not the end destination

If you are struggling with combining agile and OKRs for your organizations, chances are you are focusing on activity based key results which often resemble agile steps, leading to confusion and inability to meet goals. 

2. Facilitate horizontal alignment for shared OKRs

  • Encourage collaborative OKR setting with realistic timelines and short intervals
  • Make OKRs team/ department specific and acknowledge avenues for collaboration and alignment between teams on shared OKRs
  • Acknowledge OKR dependencies between teams and facilitate transparency and horizontal alignment
  • Avoid splitting OKRs for a shared goal between teams, rather create opportunities for working together

For instance, if you have an event coming up and wish to successfully execute the same, the objective will be common, with specific value based key results for each team.

Objective: Successfully execute the 7th edition of our annual event

Key Results

  • Get 1000+ unique registrations
  • Raise INR 20,00,000 in sponsorship
  • Curate 5 high impact panels
  • Get 10+ media and affiliate partners
  • Get 5000+ impressions on social media with organic promotion

If you look closely, while the objective is shared, key results are spread across sales, marketing, and even product/ services teams

3. Combine quality and quantity results

Your agile and OKR framework should enable you to get the best of both worlds when it comes to results. Agile results by nature are qualitative in nature and focus on the features that you wish to ascertain in a specific period of time. On the other hand, OKRs are driven by metrics. Thus, you can use a combination of the two for effective results:

  • Use OKRs to validate goals set using the agile methodology
  • Ensure each key result has a quantitative (data) and qualitative aspect (value)
  • Use a combination of agile and OKRs to ensure that your progress is positively impacting the organization

The combination can help you create an ideal balance between outputs and outcomes which are both critical when it comes to goal achievement and performance management. 

4. Promote use of data

  • Leverage data and evidence to create your agile based OKRs
  • Instead of creating OKR based on leadership opinion alone, validate the same with market study
  • Don’t rely completely on hypothetical representation, undertake primary and secondary research to ensure relevance and perceived achievability

Pro-tip:

Using data and not relying solely on opinions will help you set agile OKRs which don’t under or over estimate the goals. For instance, if the market data on traffic to a new website in your industry is 20,000 clicks in one week, your OKR can focus on reaching 25,000 to make it aspirational but achievable up to 80%. 

However, if you set the target at 50,000 or above, it will become too far fetched and the team might not even strive for it. On the flip side, if the target is only at 10,000, it will not encourage your employees to push the boundaries. Thus, you need to replace opinions and command OKRs with data backed experimentation.

5. Build self organizing teams

  • Provide you teams with a clear idea of what the larger vision looks like
  • Encourage them to set their own OKRs and help with a direction to achieve the same
  • Facilitate team autonomy and empower your team members with the right tools and resources like SuperBeings to not only set OKRs, but also track progress in real time and grade them at the end of the cycle. (Learn more)

Self organizing teams are important for growing organizations as they proactively take onus and ownership of achieving OKRs and lead to a greater degree of success. Step away from controlling detailed plans for each OKR and encourage the leadership to provide direction. 

Wrapping Up

To conclude, if you combine agile and OKR, you have for yourself a clear model for success which you can easily apply to goal setting and performance management. Furthermore, leveraging the right technology resources can help you stay on track and enable you to thrive in the VUCA world. 

OKRs
-
x
min read

How to Create a High Performance Culture Using OKR Methodology?

Like most fast growing organizations, you might also be leveraging the OKR methodology to set, implement and facilitate effective goal setting to maximize growth. If not, you should start using OKRs ASAP.

OKRs not only provide an excellent goal setting framework but also drive high performance when implemented strategically. Most importantly, with enhanced goal visibility and transparency, OKRs ensure that everyone is on the same page which is the foundation of a cohesive and high performing culture. 

In this article, we will discuss 8 ways in which you can adopt the OKR methodology to build a thriving company culture.

Use OKR methodology in 8 ways

1. Focus and clarity

A high performance and thriving company culture is based on the foundation of clarity and focus. When there are 100 things to focus on, your employees will eventually lose sight of what’s actually important and might feel burdened with non-priority tasks. This will lead to a poor employee experience and limited productivity, both situations that prevent an impactful culture.

However, when you apply the OKR methodology, you will be able to limit your focus on 3-5 top priorities which will attract attention, energy and efforts across the organization. You will then be able to create a high performance culture by dedicating all your resources to the key priorities to realize impact. 

2. Collaboration and alignment

A culture that thrives on collaboration, teamwork and alignment is one which creates maximum impact. The OKR methodology can help achieve this in an effective manner. On one hand, everyone is clear about their role in the OKR achievement, which makes collaboration seamless because everyone is on the same page and no one steps on the shoes of others. 

On the other hand, OKRs can help your employees align their responsibilities and tasks with the overall vision of the organization, motivating them to contribute to the big picture. 

To learn more about how to align teams using OKRs, read this

3. Agility and resilience

Recent times have shown that uncertainty and ambiguity will continue to mark the new normal. Thus, a culture of agility, resilience and responsiveness is critical for fast growing organizations. The OKR methodology can help achieve the same. 

OKRs are cognizant of the changing environment and have the flexibility to be adapted to the same. 

More importantly, you can leverage the OKR methodology to foster a culture that focuses on outcomes and is not fixated on the tasks to achieve the outcome at hand. 

4. Continuous engagement and reflection

One of the top challenges of building a great company culture is a siloed approach and annual reflection. This leads to surfacing of major risks and problems which result in high rates of attrition, absenteeism and lower levels of motivation, productivity, etc. 

However, the OKR methodology adopts an approach of continuous engagement and reflection. You can create a regular cadence to check OKR progress for each of your team members, even daily is effective. 

This continuous engagement and reflection can enable you to preempt risks before they surface and leverage the power of communication to address them in real-time. Invariably, a culture built on continuous engagement leads to greater impact and high levels of performance as well as employee satisfaction. 

5. Transparency 

The lack of transparency is one of the key obstacles for many fast growing organizations that seek to create a thriving company culture. A way out often seems difficult to navigate. Fortunately, the OKR methodology can help address this challenge as well. When you use OKR, especially with the support of an effective OKR tool, you can facilitate high levels of transparency. 

Everyone in the organization will not only know their role, but also will have a complete view of the level of performance for others. Such transparency can help you increase coordination of efforts and give everyone the visibility of what’s happening across the company. 

6. Non-hierarchy

You may agree that most fast growing organizations these days seek to replace a strict hierarchy with a more flat organizational structure that facilitates inclusion of diverse ideas, thoughts and opinions. However, many struggle when it comes to actually implementing this thought. 

Adopting OKRs can solve this problem.

By nature, the OKR methodology is based on a collaborative foundation where a top-down approach compliments a bottom-down approach for goal setting. 

This suggests that while the skeletal structure of the goals might be laid down by those in the top leadership, you can give all employees the freedom and autonomy to create OKRs for their teams and verticals. 

When your employees participate in setting the OKRs they have to execute, the level of ownership is much higher. Thus, you can leverage the OKR methodology to create a thriving culture built on greater ownership and a flat organizational structure. 

7. Open communication and feedback

With a focus on continuous engagement and reflection, the OKR methodology can help you facilitate open communication and feedback. Many studies have shown that a culture that facilitates regular feedback along with open channels of communication is more likely to thrive than one which does not. 

In the OKR methodology, when you constantly track your OKR progress (download our free template for tracking OKRs), you will be armed with data backed insights to offer regular feedback for your employees. Furthermore, you can also leverage the same to start meaningful conversations with your team members in case you feel that there is any kind of disconnect. Such open communication can help you create a truly inclusive culture when employees feel their voice is heard. 

8. Accountability and recognition

Finally, a company culture that thrives has two major components supporting it, accountability and recognition.

  • On one hand, only when your employees are accountable will they give in their 100% to create a high performance culture. 
  • On the other hand, if you don’t recognize the efforts of your employees frequently and in an effective manner, they are bound to feel demotivated with a lack of encouragement, leading to a poor employee experience and culture. 

The OKR methodology is an answer to both these challenges. 

  • First, being regularly reviewed, tracked and organization wide visibility makes accountability a given for fast growing organizations leveraging OKRs. Since everyone knows what the other person is responsible for, there is a development of a culture of accountability. 
  • Second, with regular tracking, monitoring individual progress becomes seamless for managers. Invariably, they can track the performance of their team members and recognize efforts in real time. This leads to a culture of recognition which is bound to see high levels of engagement, motivation and satisfaction. 

Empower your culture with the OKR methodology

Now that you know how the OKR methodology can help you in many ways to create a thriving culture, it is also true that as a fast growing organization with multi-pronged focus, leveraging OKRs is a challenging task. To address the same, you can collaborate with an integrated OKR tool like SuperBeings to automate the OKR adoption and maintenance.

With SuperBeings, you get to — 

  • Keep OKRs at the center of your business activities by aligning everyday tasks 
  • Reduce friction in goal management with zero context switching (by integrating Slack, Teams and Gchat)
  • Stay ahead of risks with a bird's eye view on key OKR status as well as compare progress over time with automated daily OKR tracking
  • Connect OKRs with Meetings tool to automate OKR check-ins and empower managers with data-backed AI driven actionable templates for meaningful conversations

Learn more about the OKR tool here. Otherwise, to see this in action, book a quick call with one of our experts. Also, get all your questions answered on the same. 

See Also

How to Run a Successful OKR Progress Review  

The complete guide to adopting OKRs (PDF)

Master OKRs in just 10 days: Free email course

Performance
-
x
min read

How to Write Negative Employee Reviews (Examples + Templates)

With performance management becoming a critical part of organizational success, giving effective employee reviews is becoming a crucial part of a manager’s responsibilities. While regular employee performance reviews focus on illustrating the strengths and what worked for employees and the organization at large, there needs to be an equal focus on areas of development in case of poor work performance

If you look closely, writing negative employee reviews is often considered to be more difficult because the words need to be chosen very carefully. It needs to have a developmental tone rather than a critical one. 

What are negative employee reviews?

As the term suggests, negative employee reviews are reviews delivered to employees who have underperformed and need to be pulled up to the expected levels. It involves a variety of components which include:

  • Problem statement i.e. an illustration of poor performance, how it has been manifested and its impact on the overall organizational success
  • A clear understanding of the level of performance which is expected
  • A potential way or action items to correct the poor performance and improve

To get actionable ideas of how to deal with poor performance issues at work, read this

Writing and delivering negative employee reviews is very important for any organization that seeks to maintain a high level of employee performance. It is critical to ensure that:

  • Poor performers are aware of their level of underperformance and have a clear picture of what’s expected from them
  • Those who are underperforming get an opportunity to improve or face the consequences of consistently performing poorly
  • Underperformers are given the right support and guidance to improve their work and efforts to meet the expectations

Why should you be cautious of your words?

When you are writing negative employee performance reviews, you need to be extremely cautious of the words you choose. Using the right words will help the receiver acknowledge and work on the suggested points, while using words that are too harsh or critical can lead to adverse consequences. There are a few reasons which make the choice of words extremely important. 

  • The right words can help negative employee reviews focus on the developmental aspects and the impact of poor performance on the organization, rather than criticizing the person in general
  • They can help ensure that the job and the performance are the focus of the employee reviews and not the character or the personality of the person
  • Being cautious also ensures that the negative employee reviews don’t have a negative impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the employee and are taken in a constructive spirit.

The same review when offered with the right words can be more powerful and have a larger influence. 

For instance a statement like ‘you interfere too much in the work of others’ can be seen as a personal attack and may yield a defensive response from the receiver. 

However if you frame it in a different manner like ‘if you give others greater autonomy and freedom to work in their own way, you will be able to inspire greater creativity and innovation’, you will be able to put your message across and also help your employees understand how it will make a difference. 

Download: Free guided 1:1 meetings template to get personalized meeting recommendations

Tips for writing negative employee reviews 

In addition to being cautious of the words you use, there are a few other tips which you must keep in mind while writing negative performance reviews, including:

1. Keep it crisp and structured

While giving negative reviews is difficult, don’t beat around the bush and get straight to the point. However, instead of directly saying what isn’t going well, try adopting the sandwich approach. Start with a positive comment, add areas of improvement and end it with some suggestions and action items. 

Example: Tina has an excellent eye for detail and is very dedicated to her work. However, she often misses the deadlines which has led to a delay in 30% of her projects resulting in poor client experience. It would help her performance greatly, if she is able to prioritize her work better and keep an organized calendar for timely delivery. She can consider using the latest project management tools to facilitate better prioritization. 

2. Don’t get personal

Second, negative employee reviews should focus on the job or the role and not the person specifically. Steer away from using words or phrases which may end up combining performance and personality of the person. Your review should be specific towards performance challenges and not generalize that performance challenge is a personality trait.

Example: Instead of saying, “you are not punctual”, you can say that “I have seen you arrive late for meetings frequently, leaving shorter time for discussions. It would be best if you could be more punctual to respect others' time and make the most effective use of the same.”

3. Focus on progress

When you are writing negative performance reviews, you must focus on the progress and how a change in behavior and attitude can help them in the long run. Simply mentioning what went wrong and the associated process might lead to demotivation. 

Example: Some of your work has had grammatical errors in the past, maybe because you were trying to complete a lot at once. I am sure if you prioritize some tasks and create an action plan, your work quality will be better. 

4. Offer facts

Don’t simply give negative employee reviews about the problem area, but back it up with facts and data points. This will help you illustrate a pattern and establish that your review is not based on a single incident. Also, it will make your review more credible and authentic and not just a few words strung together. This will also help you in being very specific.  

Example: It has been observed that 40% of your customers claim that you don’t have adequate knowledge of your product, leading to a poor experience. 

5. Give examples

There might be some performance parameters which are difficult to add quantitative data points to. In such cases, you can offer specific examples of underperformance, especially if it has been repetitive. It is ideal to have at least 2-3 instances of poor performance to make your point stronger. 

Example: It has been noticed that in the aspiration to get your work perfect, you end up delaying projects. It was observed in project X with client A, project Y with client B as well as when the internal submission for Z was due. 

Pro-tip: Use our free Performance Review Phrases template to get 50+ examples of writing a negative review positively

How to deliver a poor performance review?

Once you write the negative employee reviews, you exactly know what you want to say to your employees. However, the way you deliver it also has a big impact on how it is received. To make the process simple, we have compiled a list of some of the best practices to help you deliver a poor performance review in the best way possible:

1. Connect in person

If you are delivering a negative performance review, it is best to do it in person, or if your team is remote, over a video call. If you deliver it over an email, you cannot be sure of the tone and context in which your words will be read. 

It might backfire by being read as more critical than developmental as per the intent. Furthermore, when you are delivering the negative reviews face to face, you can also use your gestures and body language to facilitate authenticity and empathy. 

2. Steer away from yelling

No matter how poor the performance has been, when you are delivering negative employee reviews, you should stay away from yelling or using foul language. Since the focus is on facilitating development for your employee, yelling will only defeat the purpose, making the employee demotivated and pushing them towards even lower levels of confidence and motivation. Furthermore, it will negatively impact your organization from an employer brand perspective. It can also create a negative impact on the wellbeing of your employees. 

3. Add anecdotes 

While delivering the review, you may want to add some personal stories or anecdotes if you have yourself been through something on those lines. This will help you connect better with your employees and make them trust you more. Furthermore, it can enable you to illustrate how they can turn poor performance into something better with a live example in front of them. 

4. Make it a dialogue

Your negative review shouldn’t be a monologue where you deliver what you have written with the employee absorbing it as a passive recipient. Instead, make it a dialogue by putting forward questions to understand the reasons behind poor performance and how you and the organization as a whole can help turn the table. Hearing their side of the story is extremely important before deciding on the next steps. 

4. Create a safe environment

When you are delivering negative employee reviews, you need to create a safe environment. It should not be harsh and the employee should feel comfortable in receiving what you have to offer. Also, make sure you deliver the review privately and not publicly shame your employee. They should see it as a developmental conversation in a safe environment, where they can also voice their opinions. 

5. Make it regular

Finally, negative employee reviews need to be regular and not come as a surprise to your employees at the end of the year. Regular reviews will give your employees enough room to improve their performance. Furthermore, it will give them a clear picture of what to expect when the year closes. 

To learn how SuperBeings can help you have guided conversations around negative performance review with AI recommendations based on performance and goals history as well as maintain a steady cadence to maximize the impact of such conversations, see this

Offer suggestions and follow up

After you have delivered the negative reviews to employees, the natural next step is to create a plan for improvement to help your employees reach the level of performance you expect out of them. This is a critical part of the performance management and talent development process for employees who have been consistently underperforming. Here are a few ways you can help your employees improve their performance.

1. Create action items collaboratively

If you have reached this level of negative employee reviews, you and your employee would be on the same page about their level of performance. Thus, it is best to create a list of action items that can help them improve their performance. To create the next steps, you must:

  • Ensure the steps are specific and not generic which only state the objective
  • Create steps which are aspirational, but achievable at the same time
  • Ascertain that there is an intended result for each decided step
  • Collaborate and brainstorm with your employee to create action items which are agreed upon by both
  • Align timelines and other factors to achieve success

2. Document the next steps

Next, your focus should not only be on planning the action items, but documenting them as well, because once they are out of sight, they’ll be out of mind. Furthermore, documenting them will help you remember the agreed steps and track progress every now and then. 

Clearly document what needs to be achieved, by when and how. It can be a good idea to encourage your team members to constantly document their experience as well to help discuss what has been working well and what needs to improve. 

3. Draft a Performance Improvement Plan (PiP) if needed

Depending on the performance issue, you may want to introduce a performance improvement plan for your employee. It is a formal tool to address performance challenges which outlines specific goals and expectations along with clear actions that need to be undertaken over a duration of 30-90 days.

For more details on PIP, check out A guide to implementing a performance improvement plan (PIP)

4. Set up a cadence

You also must set up a cadence to discuss performance improvements or challenges once the next steps are agreed upon. Unless you connect regularly to discuss the status, you might find yourself at square one at the end of the next performance review period as well. 

Depending on what needs to be achieved, you can set a weekly, fortnightly or monthly cadence to connect with your poor performers. While it may be seen as a regular review, it will also act as a reinforcer for them to ensure there is some improvement everytime the cadence to meet comes up. 

5. Define metrics

When you are determining the next steps, it is important to identify the associated metrics as well. For instance, if you want your employee to become more detail oriented, your metric can focus on reduction in errors by a specific percentage over a specific duration of time. 

The metrics will help you measure whether or not there has been an improvement in the performance as desired or not. At the same time, the metrics will help your employee move towards a specific goal. 

6. Follow up

While you have a set cadence, you may also want to check-in or follow up from time to time to make your employee comfortable enough to reach out to you in between your cadence for connecting. The follow ups can be over emails or calls or simple messages to check if everything is on track and to offer them any support whichever is needed. Especially in the beginning, you may need to check from time to time in case there’s any additional support that the employee needs to work on the action items. 

7. Evaluate progress

Finally, to ensure that your negative employee reviews translate to impact, you must focus on evaluating progress. Use the metrics you defined to gauge the level of progress and document it whenever you evaluate the same. This will help you establish a trend over time. 

Furthermore, if you feel the progress is below expectations, try to understand the rationale behind the same to check if putting the employee on a performance improvement plan will make more sense. 

Wrapping Up

By now, you must have gained a clear understanding of how to write, deliver and follow up on negative employee performance reviews constructively. If you are keen to learn how best to connect negative performance issues with regular 1:1 meetings with your team members with technology, book a quick demo with one of our executives. We would love to show you around :)

See Also

How to use Start Stop Continue feedback framework for high performance

10 performance review tips for managers that actually work

How to use employee coaching to unlock performance

Ready to get started?
Speak to our team today

Book Demo