How to win the Talent war with OKRs

Win the Talent War with OKRs

It is an understatement to say that there is a ‘Talent War’ out there. Our collective mindset and view of talent and team members is the starting point for effectively leading and managing people. Irrespective of any rhetoric related to this subject matter, as long as we view employees as liabilities and not assets practically, we will contribute to ‘the great resign.’ OKRs, when effectively deployed, have several motivating mechanisms contained within frameworks. OKRs, in combination with an effective talent management strategy, can:

  • Increase engagement levels
  • Increase Job satisfaction
  • Improve the retention rate of talent
  • Help you to win ‘The Talent War’

A recent Harvard Business Review article entitled: ‘ Rethink Your employee value proposition Offer your people more than just flexibility by INSEAD Associate professor Mark Mortensen and Harvard Business school Professor Amy Edmonson states that:

THE GREAT RESIGNATION and a highly competitive labor market have made attracting and retaining talent a major challenge for employers. To meet it, many are following a basic strategy: Ask people what they want and try to give it to them. Temptingly simple as this response is, it can be a trap.’

The article further identifies four general elements of an employee value proposition that can be utilized and balanced to win the Talent war, namely:

Material Offerings

Growth and development

Connection and Community

Meaning and Purpose

The success factors of talent management

It is worthwhile to regress and reconsider the article’s first point, the mindset with which we approach talent – Material offerings, growth and development, connection and community, and meaning and Purpose will not have the combined and desired impact if we view all these elements as costs and liabilities to the company.

Within the context of fostering a growth mindset, as leaders, we must coach a growth mindset orientation, hire for a growth mindset orientation and view our team members as assets – The most valuable assets.

Creating compelling material offerings, ensuring the growth and development of team members, fostering a sense of connection and community, and creating a long-term impact through a sense of meaning and purpose, form a powerful employee value proposition. Yet, it has to be balanced – changes in one factor can affect others.

By focusing on one of these elements or over-focussing on one element at the expense of others can create a toxic culture. We need to carefully traverse ‘the balance beam’ that connects all of these elements to win the talent war.

‘ An effective and enduring employee value proposition requires treating the four factors as interdependent parts of an integrated system. ‘

OKRs as the ‘glue’ that holds talent strategies together

The ability to distill talent strategies into a successfully implemented employee value proposition is a huge challenge. Companies need to refine their hiring approach, onboarding, skills development practices, and total employee value proposition. Only a holistic approach in this regard will be sustainable.

OKRs can bridge the gap between strategy and execution. By prioritizing tasks and initiatives by their high potential impact on critical results and immediately taking action, you are building execution into your talent strategies.

Depending on the size of your company and teams, your employee value proposition can become an OKR framework in itself, and elements and subsets of your value proposition can become key results and/or tasks, initiatives at your action plan level of OKR frameworks of different teams.

Internal OKRs can be set to increase employee engagement and job satisfaction and the sense of meaning, impact, and purpose related to their work.

It is, however, the inherent motivating mechanisms within OKR frameworks that can be of the most value to your employee value proposition:

  • The ‘ Leader as a coaching model’ where a leader plays a supportive and collaborative role in uplifting performance, helps to build teamwork and job satisfaction.
  • The fact that OKRs are future-directed and aspirational supports increasing levels of excitement among team members
  • Teams and individuals can co-own key results, initiatives, and tasks, fostering cross-team collaboration and human connection.
  • Focus – A ‘superpower of OKRs’ helps us measure what truly matters concerning our employee value proposition and experience.
  • As OKRs are ‘stretch goals, ’ team members need to enhance their skill levels and leverage other team members’ skills in order to collectively achieve

Excellent, collective achievements and continuous ‘small wins’ must never be underestimated as elements of a motivating climate and growth culture supporting high employee engagement and retention rates.

This article suggests that OKRs should form part of your value proposition for employees – Here we:

  • Learn collectively to achieve
  •  Share the same value system and growth mindset orientation, and we ‘stretch together toward actualizing a shared vision
  •  are supported and coached to achieve
  • Can rely on team members to share their ideas and immediately offer help

When OKRs are already part of the onboarding experience of employees and are truly embedded in your culture, supported by strong leadership and a values-based culture, you can win the talent war.

Join our Leadership course to learn more about winning the ‘Talent war’:

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute