A Complete Guide on Employee Engagement: What, Why, How and a lot more

Employee engagement is the emotional involvement and attachment that an employee has with her company. Organizations today are realizing this to be one of defining competitive advantages they could have.

7

min read

A major challenge faced by a majority of organizations these days is to create high levels of employee engagement and commitment. Employee Engagement works as a catalyst for HR Managers to ensure successful modern businesses, as it indicates how committed your workforce is to the organization. It refers to the kind of dynamics or relationship that the two share with each other. Employee engagement is when one feels totally included as a team member, being focused on clear goals, being trusted and empowered, having regular and constructive feedback, being supported in acquiring new abilities, and being praised and recognised for accomplishments.

Employee engagement cannot be achieved through a mechanistic method that manipulates employees' commitment and emotions. This is because employees can soon see through such methods and often tend to get  disappointed.

The more personally invested you are in something, the more it matters to you. Improving employee engagement necessitates equal efforts from all members of the leadership team. This combined with an effective engagement strategy necessitates careful preparation. Don't let this stop you, because a highly engaged  workforce would increase profitability, efficiency, and employee retention, taking your organization to the next level.

What is employee engagement?

Employee Engagement is defined as the emotional involvement and attachment that employees have with their organization. Positive attitudes and behaviors lead to enhanced business outcomes in a way that triggers and reinforces one another. This is pretty much what employee engagement is all about. Employee involvement refers to company actions that are in line with the company's ideals. It is about promises that were kept or even an explanation for why they couldn't be maintained.

Let’s break this concept down a little into something simple. You become a bigger stakeholder in whatever it may be, be it your kids, your health, or your career. And you will be far more likely to put more into it if the result is worthwhile to you. Employee engagement is founded on an organization's members' trust, integrity, two-way commitment, and communication. It's a strategy that helps businesses succeed by improving organizational and individual performance, productivity, and well-being. It is quantifiable. It ranges from mediocre to excellent. The same goes for your employees as well. The more personally invested they are in their work, the more it matters to them and encourages them to keep contributing more. This is an amazing way to raise everyone's level of personal investment, paving the way for more and more positive contributions to the organization.

How important is employee engagement for your organization

Did you know that engaged employees outperform other employees by up to 202%

Pretty mind-boggling right! Well, it's true.

Effective Employee Engagement leads to the emotional investment of employees in your company, going above and beyond what is needed and thus, delivering exceptional results.‍

Employee engagement is so much more than just a  fancy foosball table in the break room or flashy perks like flexible work hours. Employees who are truly engaged are more likely to produce their best work every day and stay with a company that prioritizes employee engagement. 

Have you ever wondered why exactly is employee engagement so crucial for your workplace? 

Well, here’s why:

1. Boosts productivity:

Various studies have proven that employees who are invested in their jobs are more productive than those who are not. Apart from this, employees who are engaged are also said to be 21 percent more productive than those who are not. Finding ways to engage your employees, whether through a challenge or more responsibility, means you're also increasing the productivity of your company. In a nutshell, it benefits everyone involved.

2. Customer satisfaction at its best

Why and how is it that people who are passionate about their work are often the best people to interact with your customers. Well, that’s probably because passion is infectious and your customers can never go without taking notice. When your employees are engaged in the best possible manner, they tend to put in a lot more effort, translating into buzzing productivity levels at your organization, almost in no time! Those who believe in the importance of assisting customers and who believe they are respected by their employer are considerably more likely to provide a better customer experience and boost satisfaction.

3. A sign of success

This does not necessarily just mean business success. Rather, it is crucial to understand that engagement is usually the result of personal or team success.

In other words, engaged employees are engaged not because they’re productive or easy to work with, but because they feel valued and that their work matters. And when their successes are recognized by everyone else in the organization, your people will feel like they have succeeded in making a meaningful impact at work.

A fast-growing body of research demonstrates that employee engagement is a huge mover of fundamental metrics like retention and revenue. This is probably why senior executives and CEOs try their best to grasp and reap the bottom-line benefits of employee engagement to the organization.

4. Enhances culture

You would have noticed that people who are often engaged in what they do are, in general, easier to work with! Turns out, that’s true!

When you focus on the wrong things, not knowing how to consistently raise the level of personal investment by your employees is one humongous flaw that comes in the way and ends up ruining things for your organization.

In order to understand what motivates the personal investment of an employee, you will first need to understand how motivation even works, ie, what makes your employees feel good about work. This will lead to enhancing the culture of your organization even better.

How to measure employee engagement?

Some things are pretty easy to measure. This is because they are concrete. 

For example, the time it takes you to drive to your office or the number of red lights you can hit without being late! When it comes to employee engagement it is a bit more difficult. It isn’t concrete and is influenced by quite a few factors. An engagement survey would be just what you would need to know if you’re on the right track. 

However, keep in mind that it is not a place for random questions or curiosities. It is a designed measurement mechanism with several important components that represents the behaviors or feelings of an engaged employee. These questions typically measure several perceptions including organizational pride and advocacy. 

A survey question that depicts the behaviors or sentiments of an engaged employee is referred to as an engagement outcome. These questions are used to gauge feelings of organizational pride, commitment, and advocacy. The current status of employee involvement within your firm might be revealed through these outcomes. Keep in mind that these shouldn't just identify specific actions. Instead, they should be able to identify targets that your organization should maintain or improve.

Top 20 survey employee engagement survey questions 

1. How likely are you to recommend our company to your friends and family?

2. Do you plan to continue at this company in the next two years?

3. Do you feel comfortable contributing your ideas and opinions in our workplace?

4. Do you feel comfortable asking for help if you do not have the skills required to meet your day-to-day goals?

5. Do you feel like coworkers give each other respect here?

6. Do you feel aligned with the goals of the company?

7. Do you feel that the vibe of the workplace is positive and motivating for you?

8. Do you have the basic amenities to feel comfortable at work?

9. Do you think your organization operates in a socially responsible manner?

10. Are you recognized fairly for your contribution to team efforts?

11. Do you feel like this is a good place for you to develop your career?

12. Do you understand how exactly your role correlates to the company’s success?

13. Are you satisfied with the current benefits that the company offers?

14. Do you find your job role fun and challenging?

15. How prominent is office politics in your workplace?

16. Do you think that your company’s wellness policies are enough?

17. Do you receive meaningful rewards on special days like Work Anniversary, Birthdays,etc?

18. Are you provided enough time and the right resources to do your job well?

19. Do you have fun at your workplace?

20. Do you often find yourself working on weekends and holidays?

When should an organization measure employee engagement?

There is no such thing as the perfect time when it comes to measuring employee engagement. An employee engagement survey can be conducted at any time. While the timing of an engagement survey has an impact on survey outcomes, it always helps to discover the rate of engagement of your employees.

It's time to move past contentment and start talking about how to cultivate an engaged workforce. Staff happiness does not always equate to employee engagement. Employee pulse surveys are often conducted on a monthly or weekly basis. These are simpler, more routine employee opinion surveys, usually consisting of 10-15 questions and taking no more than a few minutes to complete. 

The easiest way to follow up and monitor progress from your baseline engagement survey results is to conduct a pulse survey.

A long survey often tends to repeat a question which is why daily surveys are considered to be the most effective when it comes to surveys and measurement of employee engagement. By simply asking a single question  every single day, consistently you can get valuable, accurate feedback that will boost your engagement levels even with a time constraint.

Key benefits of measuring Employee Engagement

1. Tackle obstacles

Measuring engagement on a regular basis will help you tackle obstacles before they become problems. Engagement data can be used to showcase what’s going well and connect weaker departments to stronger ones. Always remember that problems only get big when you let them. There’s no point wondering why your employee retention and sales suddenly plummet if you don’t put in the effort to take care of it.

2. Build trust

It also helps to build trust, for the plain reason being -asking for feedback from employees shows that you care about their opinions and how they feel at work. The data can be further shared with everyone in your organization -leaders, managers, and employees, giving each individual an opportunity to help contribute to a better culture. Trusted employees feel more valued which in turn helps them feel more engaged. A survey conducted by PwC showed that trusted employees are 76% more engaged than those who work in a low trust workplace.

3. Opportunity for Improvement

Surveys provide a clear picture of employee activity and thinking, in a single moment in time, as they struggle to think up thorough answers and complete the questionnaire to get back to work. It is important to encourage employees to keep track of their thoughts and feelings weekly and make sure they speak up. 

Employee engagement surveys are used to determine how motivated and engaged your staff are to give their best at work every day. You can learn about employees' ideas and opinions on their jobs and the entire environment by conducting these questionnaires.

Switch to better measurement tools whenever needed, especially employee-preferred ones. This will help to increase opportunities for improvement and engagement.

4. Helps to create morale

In order to reap benefits, it is important that you make employee morale a top priority in your company. As employee morale rises, productivity rises, enabling you to keep your employees for a longer period of time. Keep in mind to engage workers in constructive dialogue as they become disengaged. This doesn't even have to last the whole lunch hour; even a quick check-in would demonstrate that you care. This way you will be able to gain a better understanding of your employees' concerns as well.

Main Components of employee engagement

Employee engagement consists of elements that an organization needs to support in order to have a truly engaged team. People often believe that engagement is only about organizing team-building activities and providing their workforce a generous compensation. While this may promote short-term engagement, at the end of the day, the truth is that it just isn’t enough. If you wish to build highly engaged global teams, here are a few of the key components of employee engagement that should not be overlooked.

1. Leadership 

Employees yearn for meaningful relationships with their supervisors. 

Did you know that receiving praise from a direct boss is nearly twice as successful as offering workers stock options in terms of empowering them? And it's all for free! 

Achieving employee engagement is a commitment that starts with leadership. In order to get every individual to contribute their best efforts, leaders must have the ability to recognize the factors that cause employees to participate and those that cause them to disengage.

2. Employee Incentives and recognition

Employee recognition, also known as Social Recognition is nothing but the act of publicly acknowledging your employees for who they are and what they do. With employee recognition, workers recognize each other and make the workplace feel more inclusive and human. More than three-quarters of employees stated in a survey that if they were noticed and recognized more, they would work harder. This can be done even in a formal manner, such as years of service or employee-of-the-month schemes, or informal practices, such as business "points" or even small thank-you cards.

3. Culture and communication

It is a given, that employees who want to come to work every morning, have a good workplace culture. Always keep in mind that, the more prosperous the business is, the greater the atmosphere is.

Do you want to know what makes a good manager? 

Well, you can begin with effective communication. Ensure that you interact with your employees in a transparent, frank, and frequent manner.

4. Vision and Values

Employees who are deeply engaged in what they do are aware of the larger picture and how they fit into it. Employees should unite around a clearly communicated vision and declaration of core values. They are also much more likely to go above and beyond and contribute to a larger cause if they feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.

How to Improve Employee Engagement?

In today’s digital era, monitoring and improving employee engagement is easier than ever before. There is a plethora of employee engagement tools, software, and platforms that you can implement to keep tabs on your workforce engagement. 

Surveys show that employees who are supervised by Highly Engaged managers are 59% more likely to be engaged than those supervised by Actively Disengaged managers.

In case you’re still not convinced, here are a few practices you can adopt at your workplace, to watch your employee engagement rate reach the skies. Here’s how you can achieve this at your workplace. 

1. Prioritize feedback

Positive manager reviews are associated with optimal levels of feedback. It is always a given that managers who offer too much input to their direct reports are scored higher by their team than those who do not provide enough. 

So what exactly is the bottom line then? Well, employees thrive on feedback, and it does have a significant impact on their level of commitment to the organization.

Many successful leaders consider employee feedback to be one of the most important techniques for professional development – claiming that companies who take a strategic approach to employee feedback can build employee confidence, increase employee satisfaction, and even improve organizational inefficiencies.

2. Create volunteering opportunities

Employees deserve to realize that they work for an organization that is concerned with having a positive impact on society. Volunteering brings employees together for the greater good and allows them to engage on a deeper level. Indeed, workers agree that service events increase productivity more than happy hours and that businesses that support voluntary efforts have a healthier work climate.

3. Provide flexibility

Employee involvement can be boosted by flexible work schedules and remote work opportunities. This level of adaptability satisfies workers' need for a work-life balance. Employees expect their employers to help them balance job and personal obligations, so make sure you do your bit to keep them happy.

4. Evaluate processes

Unnecessary activities and incomplete processes can cost your company a lot of money. Employees, on the other hand, find it quite aggravating. Employees turn on cruise control as a result of the extra measures. This is a sign that they are not engaged with their jobs and a sign that cannot be ignored. Analyze each team's processes carefully and search for ways to improve them for long-term success.

Top 5 Employee Engagement Platforms 

1. SuperBeings

SuperBeings allows an individual to measure, analyze, act and even learn with a set of carefully curated, easy-to-use tools that provide the best results when it comes to keeping a track of employee engagement in your organization. This platform takes daily employee feedback on the organization culture, manager’s leadership skills, and the nature of the employee’s role over existing chat systems such as Slack and MS Teams. Using this feedback, it identifies gaps and recommends personalized learning content and the best possible practices to each manager to close the loop from feedback to action. 

With SuperBeings, managers can even set and track priorities and run custom polls to get additional feedback. They can also automate their recurring stand-ups, 1:1 agenda gathering, and more with the help of this platform. This AI-powered solution for companies helps them drive Employee Engagement, building a high-performing culture. The Pro version is for $5 per employee per month.

Pros:

  • Easy to use interface
  • Amazing Customer Service
  • Highly affordable
  • Continuous and Real-Time 
  • Holistic approach

Cons:

  • Being a young platform with a high potential to understand human behavior, it is on the move to update features to meet customer demands and you will have to expect continuous changes.

2. CultureAmp

Culture Amp creates the forum that enables companies to prioritize culture. It aims to provide people with not only a tool, but also the education, network, and other resources they need to do it for themselves in their own business. Also provides top-quality community content such as the blog, whitepapers, webinars, etc. These are great and can help managers and employees improve their skills.

Culture Amp also offers comparable company metrics to show you how you're doing. It also provides benchmarks from similar organizations to show you how you're doing and allows you to track your progress toward company culture develops over time. 

Pricing starts at $4,500 per year for 50 to 200 employees and $10,500 per year for 201 to 2,000 employees.

Pros:

  • In-depth reporting.
  • Amazing clarity in action for surveys

Cons:

  • Does not allow collaborators to complete performance reviews together with ease.
  • Admin functionality is not robust.
  • Expensive.

3. Glint

Glint is a People Success Platform that helps global companies increase employee engagement, grow their people, and optimize business performance by leveraging real-time people data. Glint surveys enable your company to elicit your feedback on a regular basis, listen to your concerns, and turn that information into timely, meaningful action. Employees select an answer from an 11-point scale, 0 to 10. Glint pricing starts at $0.01. They do not provide a free version. 

It is a really simple tool to launch and gain insight into your entire company's satisfaction; along with easy actions to address concerns or weaknesses identified. It allows organizations to take a holistic approach when it comes to engaging talent, developing people, and inspiring them to do their best work. Glint gathers more frequent feedback through pulses, surveys, and anytime channels and then applies cutting-edge analytics to deliver personalized insights and AI-powered recommendations for action to HR teams, leaders, and managers.

Pros:

  • Easy and intuitive interface. 
  • The dashboards and reports are clear, with the graphs being the best feature.
  • Frequent pulse surveys let you provide feedback on an ongoing basis.

Cons:

  • One cannot get access to past survey responses.
  • Survey responses are not integrated with a company's primary HR platform.
  • A little expensive.

4. OfficeVibe

Officevibe is a simple and highly effective forum for team growth. It gives managers the tools they need to improve trust, collaboration, and team performance. The platform helps managers get to know their teams by sending out weekly Pulse Surveys that provide confidential, written feedback options. The platform lets managers understand their teams by distributing weekly Pulse Surveys that include opportunities for anonymous, written feedback. It compiles comprehensive Survey Reports and provides tools for making improvements.

Officevibe also supports managers in mastering 1-on-1s by creating a collaborative structure for tough conversations while providing concrete ways to take action on individual and team goals. 

Officevibe pricing starts at $4.00 per user, per month. The software does offer a free version for users to try out as well. 

Pros:

  • Provides a good platform for employees to provide anonymous feedback periodically.
  • Keeps track of your team engagement continuously, having a zoomed-in approach to different metrics of engagement

Cons:

  • Lack of clarity when it comes to the time span for the metrics.
  • Lack of depth and variety in the questions.

5. Amber by Infeedo

Amber by Infeedo is a smart AI-enabled bot that assists in real-time management of employee engagement, predicting turnover, and measuring company culture. Amber connects with employees across organizations to gather actionable information for HR in order to improve employee engagement, reduce potential attrition, and get a real-time sense of general sentiment. Communications here are more timely, personalized, and tailored to key milestones in an employee's career, with an emphasis on not only asking questions but also listening and reacting appropriately.

Amber partners with workers from various companies to gather actionable feedback for HR in order to improve employee engagement, reduce future turnover, and get a real-time sense of overall sentiment. The communications are timely, personalized, and tailored.

With Amber, one can now deliver a seamless experience to their employees for every moment that matters to them in the employee lifecycle and remain human at heart. To use Amber's services, inFeedo has an annual pricing structure and the average cost is $25 per user per annum.

Pros:

  • The software’s timely reach outs are personalized on a specific milestone in an employee's tenure, making the conversation even more interesting.
  • Outstanding reports and insights.

Cons:

  • Less satisfactory when it comes to customization.
  • Only suitable for lifecycle surveys.

Never underestimate the power of understanding what’s going on between your employees and their peers as only this can help you identify opportunities to align and motivate teams and individuals.

Like Doug Conant rightly said, 

To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace

-it is now time to get ready for some major wins. 

Suggested reading:

Are your Employee Engagement Practices Really Working?

Conducting an Employee Engagement Survey

If you’re looking for a single platform to satisfy all your organizational needs and make the right decisions, SuperBeings would be your one-stop destination to help you shape the right culture for your organization. Book a free demo today!

Garima Shukla

Marketing, SuperBeings

Hello world! I am Garima and I research and write on everything we are doing to make the world of work a better place at SuperBeings

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OKRs
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x
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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
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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
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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

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