While it is important to have objectives that are ambitious, having unrealistic ones that cannot be achieved demotivates employees.
OKR or Objectives and Key Results is an effective goal setting framework for organizations to achieve their business aspirations. The major merit to OKRs comes from their ability to help team members achieve shared goals in a time bound and measurable manner. It enables organizations to align business objectives with operational tasks and ensure that the top priorities don’t drift to the back seat as business as usual takes over.
However, setting OKRs comes with its own set of challenges and OKR mistakes that organizations must avoid.
In this blog, we will discuss —
OKRs consist of two components, Objectives and key results. Objectives are what the organization seeks to achieve, as a top priority, the overarching vision. While key results focus on how the intended outcome will look like.
Setting OKRs effectively involves creating an objective which is ambitious as well as qualitative in nature. Starting with quarterly objectives can be effective. It will allow organizations time to see subtle signs of progress, but at the same time, flexibility to realign in case of a disconnect.
Key results, on the other hand, must be measurable and quantitative. Without a data point attached to the key results, it is extremely difficult to gauge whether or not the objective has been met.
Working with the right structure can help avoid OKR mistakes. Here is a quick example of the structure for OKR goal setting along with the key considerations to keep in mind:
Objective: Improve employee engagement (ambitious)
Key Result 1: Increase employee satisfaction to 80% (measurable and quantitative)
Key Result 2: Increase employee participation by 50% (measurable and quantitative)
Key Result 3: Decrease voluntary turnover by 50% (measurable and quantitative)
To learn how to set the right OKRs, read this step-by-step guide.
With an understanding of the benefits of objectives and key results and the structure for effective OKR goal setting, let’s turn to the 15 common OKR mistakes that organizations make and how to fix them based on industry research and best practices:
Many organizations fall prey to the common OKR mistake of setting a disproportionate number of OKRs. There are several facets to this. First, there might be too many objectives that the key priorities get lost. Second, organizations tend to link only one key result to each objective, which may not be sufficient to achieve the objectives.
How to fix this: Focus on setting no more than 3-5 objectives per department or team per quarter. Similarly, having 2-4 key results for each objective is a good starting point. This will not overwhelm team members about the amount of work to be done as well as ensure that organizational priorities are sacrosanct.
While it is important to have objectives that are ambitious, having unrealistic ones that cannot be achieved is one of the most common OKR mistakes. Unachievable objectives demotivate employees instead of challenging them. On the flip side, having very low hanging fruits as objectives lead to a situation where they are not challenging or stimulating enough to encourage employees to push their boundaries. Either way, the OKRs lose significance and fail to create impact. This also leads to sandbagging and underutilization of available resources.
How to fix this: Adopt an incremental approach. Start with audacious but realistic goals. Check your team’s performance and adjust accordingly.
Lack of accountability is one of the major reasons why some OKRs fail. In the absence of direct accountability, there is an environment of finger pointing and shifting the blame, without any adequate results on the table.
How to fix this: Have a point person who will be directly responsible for measuring and sharing the efficacy and the effectiveness of the OKRs and share whether or not the team is on track with what was envisioned. When setting OKRs, always designate who will be accountable and responsible to track the same.
OKRs must contribute directly to the business growth and strategy. Good OKRs directly impact the bottom line — end-user experience and profitability. Low-value OKRs, even when fully achieved, fail to make any substantial difference, leading to wastage of valuable resources.
How to fix this: Set OKRs thoughtfully. Rephrase OKRs to focus on the tangible benefit to create a sense of urgency. De-prioritize goals that do not contribute to the primary objective of the company.
Having OKRs which are vague and not aligned to any specific measurable outcomes tend to be ineffective. This is especially true for the key results. One of the most common OKR mistakes is not having a measurable figure attached to the key results to gauge whether or not the objective has been achieved.
How to fix this: Adopting the SMART goals framework can go a long way to ensuring that the OKRs are very specific and can be measured in a time bound manner.
For instance, instead of simply saying increase customer NPS, make it specific as increase customer NPS to 9 in 5 months.
It is true that most OKRs will come from the senior leadership following a top-down approach to be implemented by others in the team. However, making this an exclusive approach is a big mistake. Top-down OKRs often limit creativity and autonomy leading to decreased motivation and negatively impact the performance overall. It is a common OKR mistake to have brainstorming in silos.
How to fix this: Adopt a balanced approach of top-down and bottom-up when it comes to setting OKRs. Employees need to be seen as organizational assets who have a fair understanding of business needs and priorities. Therefore, giving them a voice in the process of OKR goal setting can go a long way into augmenting engagement and making it a collaborative process. This also aligns business strategy with tactics and day-to-day operations.
Don’t set OKRs and forget. Without tracking progress, undertaking corrective action and realigning priorities becomes difficult. This leads to negligible impact to the overall business.
How to fix this: Have a weekly tracker to gauge the progress made on each OKR. Have regular conversations on the results achieved. It is a good idea to break the ultimate results into smaller percent size portions which can be aimed to be achieved and tracked on a regular basis.
OKRs are not to-do lists. It is important to understand that daily tasks can be many and are generally a way to achieve the objectives and key results. Treating OKRs as a task checklist for everything that needs to be done is one of the most common OKR mistakes.
How to fix this: It is important to differentiate between the top objectives from the tasks and smaller milestones that come along the way of achieving the objective. Listing down initiatives to be taken for each key result can eliminate the confusion.
Many managers commit the mistake of using OKRs as a performance evaluation tool to gauge how well their team members have been able to achieve what is expected out of them. Since performance evaluation is often linked to compensation and benefits, employees will push conversations towards setting lower objectives, which defeats the purpose. As OKRs are by nature ambitious, having a 70-80% achievement ratio of objectives is a good sign of progress. If OKRs are 100% achieved, objectives may not be ambitious enough to capitalize on the team members’ strengths.
How to fix this: Use the OKR framework as a management tool to encourage employees to push their boundaries. OKRs need to be aspirational for employees to put their thinking hats on and innovate, rather than a goal to achieve to reach the next promotion level.
Taking inspiration from industry practices is a good idea. However, replicating them without any contextual understanding is self-defeating. As the whole OKR framework gained momentum with Google’s success and explosive growth, organizations tend to replicate the Google way without any customization. Naturally, the results are often skewed.
How to fix this: Learn from the best practices of others and then customize them to fit your organization’s context. Instead of implementing blindly, it is important to understand the rationale for each activity and then align those with specific business priorities. To avoid this OKR mistake, organizations must understand the guiding principles behind successful OKRs, have clear business goals, and then implement OKRs according to their unique needs.
Many organizations expect to see results within weeks of setting their objectives. They seek instant results without giving the team members the room to work on them and achieve the desired outcomes. This need for instant gratification leads to frustration and pushes leaders to give up too quickly and is a very common OKR mistake.
How to fix this: Be patient and give the OKRs time to show their impact. As with any new process, the team will take some time to implement OKRs, and get used to them. The results will likely be visible from the third or the fourth cycle. Do not quit and dismiss OKRs too early. Engage with OKR experts to understand their gestation period and refine the process along the way.
OKRs need to be forward looking and ambitious. Focusing on very short term goals as objectives will compromise their impact and importance. OKRs are generally long term and are achieved over time.
How to fix this: Segregate your OKRs into three categories to have the perfect balance between strategy and execution.
Many organizations master the art of setting OKRs in the best and most effective manner, yet in the absence of clear effective communication are unable to achieve the expected results. Unless everyone is on the same page when it comes to the objectives and expected key results, it is very difficult to move the needle in the right direction consistently.
How to fix this: Once the OKRs are set, communicate them clearly to everyone in the team and specify the role of each and everyone involved. Creating OKRs in silos and expecting everyone to perform their roles doesn’t make sense. Setting OKRs must be a collaborative and communicative process.
Achieving any objective that has the potential to create business value requires adequate resources. However, often organizations fail to provide their teams with the right resources. This leads to an inability to meet the expectations, causing frustration and demotivation.
How to fix this: Before implementing any OKR, take an honest inventory of the resources — internal and external — that will be required to achieve them. Check whether or not the same can be provided to the employees. If not, it might be a good idea to relook at the OKRs and redefine them in case of a disconnect.
It is common for organizations to blindly go after the objectives set months ago despite changing business requirements. Failing to reinvent as and when needed can lead to potential loss of revenue and market share.
How to fix this: Organizations must be agile in setting OKRs and be ready to reinvent them as circumstances change. At the same time, when an objective has been achieved, it needs to be replaced with a new one to avoid wastage of resources.
‘Onboarding: How to get your new employees up to speed in half the time’ - George Bradt, founder and Chairman PrimeGenesis
Did you know that a strong onboarding process improves new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%?
However, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job at onboarding new employees.
This clearly states that while employee onboarding has a direct impact on the bottom line, most organizations miss out on how to get it right.
Don’t let that happen to you. To onboard new employees like a pro, keep reading.
By definition, an onboarding survey is a questionnaire that is administered on new hires to gauge their initial experience and level of satisfaction, in an attempt to understand their engagement and retention potential.
As an HR, you can get multiple insights from an onboarding survey, including:
It can help you estimate how long the employees are likely to stay and how you can further optimize your onboarding process to make it more aligned with employee expectations.
An effective onboarding survey can help you reflect on your performance through the onboarding process, which directly impacts KPIs for organizational success, including:
93% of employers believe a good onboarding experience is critical in influencing a new employee’s decision whether to stay with the company. At the same time, 25% of a company’s new hires would leave within a year if the onboarding experience was poor.
20% of new hires are unlikely to recommend an employer to a friend or family member and an onboarding survey can help you identify the reasons for the same. However, new team members who were asked to provide feedback prior to their start date also had a 79% increase in willingness to refer others. Thus, illustrating how onboarding surveys and feedback can impact eNPS.
Read: How to use eNPS for better employee engagement
Employees with exceptional onboarding experiences are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace and 70% say they have ‘the best possible job’.
77% of employees who went through a formal onboarding process were able to meet their first performance goals. However, 49% of individuals who failed to reach their first performance milestone had no official onboarding instruction. An onboarding survey can help you determine the effectiveness of your onboarding process.
In addition, your new employees might also have an inclination towards providing feedback as a part of the onboarding survey, which you will lose out if you don’t conduct the same. Research shows that only 26% of new employees recall being asked for feedback on their candidate journey and the hiring process before their start date wherein 91% of new hires are willing to provide this feedback.
Now that you understand the importance of an employee onboarding survey, let’s quickly discuss how to effectively run an onboarding survey.
You must coincide your employee onboarding survey with important milestones for the new employee in the organization. Mostly, these milestones coincide with the end of the first few months. Thus, you should circulate your onboarding survey after 30, 60 and 90 days respectively, with different objectives for each. Furthermore, you can send interim surveys in case you feel the need, for instance, when the employee starts a project, or when the orientation process is over.
“Effective employee onboarding isn’t about swag, stickers, & company value pamphlets on their desk the 1st day. But, how you help them understand their goals & how co values are interwoven in operating are more important.”- Suhail Doshi, founder and chairman of Mixpanel, Inc.
Based on the milestones or cadence you have set up, it is important to identify areas you would want to cover with each milestone. For instance:
In the first 30 days, you should focus on themes like:
In 60 days, you can touch on themes like:
By the end of 90 days, focus should shift towards:
Once you have decided the themes, you can start building questions, a snapshot of which is covered in the next section or you can download the template now here. The themes can be fluid across milestones, depending on the context for your organization.
Once the milestone arrives, you should roll out the onboarding survey and drive participation. It is important to explain to your new employees why the onboarding survey is important and how they can fill it up. Give them the requisite time, deadlines and communicate what will be the next steps to encourage them to participate.
Simply rolling out the survey is not enough. You must reach out to your new employees to remind them to fill the onboarding survey as amidst numerous new things, they might lose track of it. Don’t push too hard, yet send subtle reminders to get genuine responses. For instance: employee survey tools such as SuperBeings integrate with chat tools like Slack, Teams, Gchat to send personalized nudges to fill out the survey in the flow of work at set intervals as well as allows them to participate directly without switching context.
Unlock a wide array of survey questions and employee analytics. See how SuperBeings can help
Once your onboarding survey responses are in, slice and dice them to get insights into what your employees feel and leverage the data points to further refine your onboarding process to facilitate engagement, retention and advocacy from the beginning.
Taking cue from the section above, here are 50+ onboarding survey questions that you can leverage to gauge the pulse of your new employees as they complete different milestones.
You can also download these questions as a template and use it whenever you need. Click here to download
By now, it would be very clear to you that an employee onboarding survey can help you in multiple ways to create a high performance culture. It can enable you to augment retention, engagement, satisfaction and advocacy among employees to ensure that there is minimal turnover and you are able to attract high quality talent. Ensure that you roll out an onboarding survey at 30/60/90 days frequency to check onboarding experience, knowledge transfer, manager support, role clarity, etc.
You should focus on other forms of employee feedback on culture, training and development opportunities, level of engagement, manager effectiveness, workplace collaboration, work-life balance, among others.
Finally, you should focus on leveraging technology and automation to add efficiency and effectiveness to your onboarding survey and process.
Research shows, automating onboarding tasks resulted in a 16% increase in retention rates for new hires.
Thus, consider partnering with a survey platform which enables you to:
How to use employee engagement survey comments
When it comes to performance management for employees, you would agree that feedback plays an important role. However, only offering positive feedback and appreciating the performance of your employees is not enough. You need to give them an equal amount of constructive feedback which is specific to ensure high levels of performance. If you feel that your employees may not embrace constructive feedback, think again.
Research shows that 92% of people believe that constructive feedback is effective at improving performance.
In this article we will help you understand how you can give constructive feedback and examples you can leverage.
Constructive feedback is essentially a tool that most forward looking professionals leverage to help others in their team with specific and constructive inputs on areas where one’s performance can be improved. Put simply, if you have an employee who doesn’t pay attention to detail, constructive feedback involves helping them acknowledge that this is a problem area, and more than that, enabling them with the support to overcome the same. It involves not only identifying a performance problem, but also, providing action items and ways to address the same.
Now that you have an understanding of what constructive feedback means, let’s quickly look at some of the top reasons why constructive feedback is important. Constructive feedback:
When delivering feedback, you must understand the difference between positive and constructive feedback and ensure that you use both of them where they fit the best. Here a quick distinction between positive feedback vs constructive feedback:
In a nutshell, positive feedback is a reinforcement tool, whereas constructive feedback is a mechanism to facilitate development.
With an understanding of the fundamentals of constructive feedback, let’s quickly jump to the best practices which can help you deliver constructive feedback in a nuanced and effective manner.
The first thing you need to focus on is ensuring that the timing of the constructive feedback is ideal. For instance, a busy period when the employee is putting in a lot of effort may not be ideal for giving them feedback about their performance from three months ago. At the same time, ensure that you provide constructive feedback regularly and consistently, to avoid recency or primacy bias. However, don’t offer feedback when you are angry about their performance either.
Before you get down to giving the feedback, set the tone. Share with the employee the purpose of the meeting and make them comfortable prior to sharing your reflections. It is important that you build trust so your employees can share their perspective and don’t feel intimidated by what you have to say.
Once the context and tone is set, start sharing your reflections. Your focus should be on sharing what you have observed about their performance. However, ensure that you also share how the same is likely to impact their career growth as well as organizational success. For instance, if you are providing constructive feedback about missing deadlines, you can use the impact of losing clients for the organization and a casual attitude marker for the employee.
When sharing reflections, use specific examples of when you noticed a particular behavior. For instance, in the above example, you can share instances of when the employee missed his/her deadlines. Ensure that you use examples which illustrate a pattern, rather than a one off incident, which is very uncommon. Furthermore, always use concrete examples and not interpretation of what you hear or see.
With constructive feedback, your focus should be on helping the employee improve their performance and work on their areas of development.
However, simply pointing out their weaknesses or negatives in their performance will not help. You need to also talk about some of the positive aspects of their performance and how those qualities can help them absorb and implement their constructive feedback.
Emotional intelligence is extremely important when delivering constructive feedback. You cannot be apathetic towards your employee when delivering the same. Put yourself in their shoes to choose your phrases carefully. We will share some examples in the next section. Also, use your EQ to read the situation when you are delivering the feedback. If you see that the employee is getting uncomfortable, take a pause and comfort them first. Read their gestures and body language to ensure that the employee is not feeling attacked.
Like it or not, constructive feedback involves pointing out one’s weaknesses and areas of improvement. However, you should refrain from equating the performance of the employee with his/her personality or whole self. For instance, if someone misses deadlines, encourage them to be more organized or prioritize important work, than labeling them as a procrastinator.
While you are delivering the constructive feedback, you have to make sure it is a dialogue.
The idea is to give the other person enough room to share their side of the story.
Try to understand whether or not they agree with your feedback and how they perceive the same. They may share the lack of support or resources, which have resulted in a weak performance. Be open to some reverse feedback as well. Again, your EQ must be at play here. If your employee has an outburst, or reacts negatively, you need to stay composed and calm them down.
Once you and your employee are aligned on the areas of improvement, the most important part of constructive feedback is to provide adequate solutions to address the performance challenges. Don’t give abstract or vague solutions like be punctual if the employee misses deadlines. Rather, give very specific and action oriented solutions which are directed towards a particular outcome. The idea is to collectively understand the cause of the weak area of performance and use concrete solutions to remedy the same.
Now that you have shared some potential solutions, you must revise the top action items with your employee to avoid any confusion. At the same time, you should focus on creating a time bound plan with key milestones to ensure that development is taking place. Summarize what was discussed and how you will proceed from there. Best is to set up a date to review the progress to ensure constructive feedback is paid heed to.
Read our article on Start Stop Continue Feedback to give action oriented feedback
Here are top 20 constructive feedback examples that you can use during your next conversation. To make your constructive feedback more effective, we have also illustrated examples of what you should steer away from.
I would really like to know how you have progressed on the tasks assigned to you last month. It would be ideal if you could share a progress update on what has been achieved with a small summary of challenges/ support needed at the end of every week to ensure everyone is on the same page.
You have not kept your team updated about your work, this is highly unprofessional.
I was going through the work you submitted last week and I can see you have put in a lot of effort. However, I could see that there were some small errors and inaccuracies in the report across multiple sections. I believe that if you proofread your work thoroughly before turning it in, it will reduce the number of iterations and improve your quality of work.
You seem completely distracted as you have been submitting flawed and below average work, this will not be tolerated.
I understand that you are working on multiple projects, however, you need to ensure that the most important projects are not overlooked and their timelines are not missed. Therefore, I would suggest you create a list of tasks you are working on and check with the respective reporting managers on the priority and set clear expectations to ensure that no deadlines are missed.
You have missed your deadline again, it seems like you are not serious about you work.
I see that you have been able to achieve only a part of the goals that you set out for this year. Maybe you were trying to spread yourself too thin. I would suggest you reduce the number of projects you are working on and ensure that the goals you set you are able to achieve. Furthermore, you must be vocal about the support or resources you need to achieve your goals.
Are you even serious about your work, your level of goal achievement indicates otherwise.
I see that you have been taking some time off lately, without any prior intimation. Let’s try to understand if there is a particular reason for the same. We can work on your schedule to make it more flexible.
You have been missing all meetings lately, this tardiness is not appreciated.
I see that you are excellent at execution of ideas. However, I believe that you need to focus more on coming up with solutions on your own. I would suggest participating more in the brainstorming sessions and coming up with solutions. Try to think on your own, before you reach out to others with the problem.
You lack any problem solving capabilities, and will be stuck to execution for the rest of your career.
Constructive feedback is integral to organizational success. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
50 top 360 degree feedback question examples
While performance management has been a key priority for organizations, for a long time, year end reviews were considered to be the most effective way to facilitate the same. However, recently organizations are observing a shift towards continuous performance management with an introduction of the performance management cycle. This article will focus on different aspects of the performance management cycle and how it enables unlocking the potential of high performance teams.
Before going into the diverse aspects, you should first understand what a performance management cycle essentially is. If you have an idea of what continuous performance management is, you’re already a step ahead in the understanding. Performance management cycle primarily is a way or a model in which you evaluate or focus on the performance of your employees throughout the year. The idea is to break down the different elements of employee performance into different stages and focus on them consistently. It starts with setting goals and ends with rewards for a job well done, which leads to setting of new goals and the performance management cycle resets.
While you may want to divide your performance management cycle into any number of stages, mostly there are four stages.
The first stage, at the very beginning of the performance management cycle, focuses on creating a plan for the performance ahead. The idea is to have a clear understanding on what your employee must achieve and how you will eventually review and evaluate them. During the planning stage, you and your team member, collectively should:
Thus, the planning stage of the performance management cycle sets the tone for the year ahead and ensures there is clarity at all levels.
Once the goals have been set in the planning stage, you enter the monitoring stage of the performance management cycle. This stage essentially focuses on ensuring that things are moving as planned. The idea is to ascertain that your team members are more or less on track for specific milestones outlined as a part of goal setting. Additionally, this stage will help you address any performance challenges that you may observe, sooner than later. Monitoring stage includes:
The monitoring stage essentially focuses on tracking the performance of your employees against the set goals to provide constructive feedback and help them perform better.
The third stage of the performance management cycle comes into existence towards the end. It involves reviewing the performance and providing ratings based on the established KPIs and metrics. While this is the formal review process, if you have been constantly monitoring the performance of your employees, this will essentially be a consolidation of all the reviews and feedback shared overtime. While delivering performance reviews, ensure that you:
Since you have been connecting regularly with your employees, the reviews will not come as a surprise to them, but will help you monitor the trends of their performance and guide the next stage for the employee’s professional growth.
Finally, the rewarding stage in the performance management cycle acts as a culmination to one cycle and sets stage for the commencement of the next. The objective is to take into account their performance over the performance management cycle and create a culture of rewards and recognition to celebrate and appreciate high performance. Some of the quick ways to reward your employees include, giving them:
This stage is important to make your employees feel valued and motivate them to keep the performance going. It will also push average performers to step up their efforts and enable you to create a high performance culture.
Now that you understand the various stages of a performance management cycle, let’s quickly look at why the performance management cycle is important for your organization. It will help you:
In addition to the above mentioned benefits, a performance management cycle can help you build a high performance culture in a number of ways. Some of the top aspects include:
What constitutes high performance can be abstract. For some, closing 5 deals can be high performance, for others, it might be closing 15. Planning stage in the performance management lifecycle will help your employees understand what constitutes high performance and thus, proceed towards it.
A key part of the performance management cycle is the rewards and recognition. When employees feel their performance is being valued and recognized, they tend to double up their efforts, leading to a high performance team.
Monitoring and tracking followed by 1-o-1 conversations can help you communicate with your employees regularly. Not only will you track their performance, but will also listen to their concerns or challenges and offer them feedback. Such conversations and feedback have a positive impact on performance, leading to a high performance culture.
One of the foundations of high performance is enabling your team members to undergo the right training. Performance management cycle can help you understand which training is important for your employees at which performance stage, realizing high quality results.
As a manager, there are several ways in which you can unlock the true potential of a performance management cycle. You are one of the key stakeholders who plays an important role in every stage of the cycle. Here are a few tips that can help you augment the effectiveness of the performance management cycle:
A performance management tool can significantly help you streamline your performance management cycle by offering the following benefits.
Get automated performance snapshots of your employee’s performance over the 9 box grid to track performance trends over time and provide reviews without recency bias.
Leverage guided templates with AI based suggestions for your 1:1 conversations with employees during the monitoring stage based on performance over time. Receive suggested talking points for goal-centered conversations.
Look at historic feedback to see improvement in performance and compare performance over time. You can also compare performance of peers over specific parameters.
How to create a high performance culture using OKRs
7 steps to effective performance management system