TIP 1# Lead the implementation of OKRS
As an OKR leader ensure that there is a ‘large dose’ of inspiration during and after the OKR implementation process. Leaders inspire through ensuring that:
- The vision of the company is clear
- All team members roles are clear
- There is co-creation of Objectives and Key results
- There is a meaningful purpose behind the introduction of OKR frameworks
- There is weekly check ins to keep track of progress
- There are regular supportive and targeted coaching sessions to apply improvements
Transparency builds trust and trust is the foundation of leadership. Build trust amongst stakeholders and team members by being radically transparent during the implementation of OKR frameworks.
TIP 2# Coach and train Team members in a targeted way to achieve OKRs
Perpetual and targeted coaching and training is required in order to adapt to change and to ensure sustainable performance. Generic training and coaching that are theory focused and covers topics at a high level is not effective.
Targeted, ‘bitesize’ training and coaching that addresses gaps in each individual team members’ practical knowledge and fosters the right habits and thinking in alignment with the objectives of the company produces results.
Immediate action points must stem from each ‘bitesize’ training and coaching session and should be immediately implemented to ensure transference of learning.
TIP 3# Embed the values of the company in the culture.
Embedding the values of the company mean that they become actionable within all the team members’ roles. All values must be collectively defined within a team environment for each team member to not only understand each value theoretically but also to empower all to take action on each value.
As an example it does not have value to only understand the value of integrity theoretically. The actions that would practically prove that you have integrity must be clearly defined within your role.
Ensure that all tasks performed in alignment with the key results and objectives that you have set are actioned within the context of your value system as behavioral standards
TIP 4# Understand and maintain the delicate Leadership/management balance..
Leadership and management are not the same thing, yet both are needed and they need to be in balance for the sake of sustainability and success. For the sake of simplicity leadership can be defined as the ability to inspire others and galvanize a team around an exciting future vision. Management can be defined as the ability to control people.
In the case of people being over-controlled at the expense of leadership (low or no inspiration) too many rules and regulations and financial controls can suffocate performance and energy. Similarly when very high levels of inspiration exists within the team at the expense of controls, chaos cannot be prevented and in both examples performance will suffer.
Just enough financial controls to ensure the effective application of financial resources, safety in the workplace must be secured, standard operating procedures that produces results and maintains standards are essential – All of the above and more must be managed.
At the same time true leaders main role is to clarify the shared vision of a better future for all, to embed the shared value system in the company culture to provide people with a sense of belonging and to energize team members by showcasing the impact and meaning (purpose) of their work. Above all a leader must inspire through action – by being an indisputable example of the behavior asked of team members a leader can inspire others to act and follow the example that was set.
Maintaining the leadership/management balance is not an exact science but instead an artful skill that is honed by experience, the willingness to never stop learning, and the treatment of others as equals.
TIP 5# Purpose is the ‘highest grade of fuel’ to drive organizational performance.
Purpose as a driving force to your life and as a ‘source of fuel’ to teams provides a multitude of advantages:
- Purpose is a source of energy, excitement and meaning
- Purpose provides guidance and can be your ‘North Star’ if you will
- Purpose can be a filter, along with the company value system, for decision making. – E.g if we do this, will it have a societal impact and is it in alignment with the company purpose?
- A sense of purpose linked to OKRs or other goals can drive up the engagement levels of individuals and teams.
Coaching others to find meaning in their lives and work is not only a great service to them but also society.
Supporting others to find meaning in their personal lives in combination with personal development programs is not only the ‘right thing to do’ as a leader or leadership team but also the realization that company growth is linked to the growth and development of individuals and teams.
TIP 6# Demolish the silo effect.
The silo effect in organizations has positive elements to it. A strong focus purely on the department itself and its activities can result in good performances for the specific department. The silo effect do have numerous challenges to it though: Once a department functions like as a ‘republic on its own’ and see itself as a sovereign entity to a degree it causes alienation between departments.
There will be several examples in any long lasting organizations history where interdepartmental collaborations brought very good results and also examples where the silo effect brought on disasters that could have been avoided if a spirit of teamwork under one banner existed between departments.
By setting OKRs that fosters collaboration between departments and having interdepartmental meetings and check ins as one team with no line of distinction the silo effect can be demolished.
Profits and turnover is much more likely to multiply when, for example the sales team, marketing team, and the customer service department collaborate as one team to ensure results as opposed to them working in silo.
Our latest blog article focusses on OKRs and sales champions and clearly illustrates examples of OKRs that breaks down the silo effect and fosters collaboration between the Sales, marketing and customer service departments:https://okrinstitute.org/how-to-create-sales-champions-through-objectives-and-key-results/
TIP 7# Lead performance through communication with a return on investment
Being excellent at public speaking helps but forms a very small part of being excellent at communication. When you speak you learn nothing but when you are very good at active listening you can learn a lot even within one conversation. Very good communicators are very good at formulating questions that fosters collaboration and builds relationships.
The environment around any conversation or meeting should be considered as extremely important, people will only truly share if they feel safe and comfortable within a meeting.
Management generally happens through meetings and a huge amount of time is spent in meetings and this comes at a high cost –
- Valuable company human resources are utilized during meetings
- People in meetings are not doing their actual work (generally speaking) – there is then actual downtime in terms of work.
It is therefore critical for Leaders to ensure a return on investment of communication during all touch points with team members inclusive of ‘Townhalls’ , coaching sessions, trainings and meetings.
Communication with an ROI sounds like it is purely transactional, deeply consider that communication must be underpinned by the balance of empathy and firmness in order to be sustainable.
Our latest blog article explores the concept of communication with a return on investment: see it here
TIP 8# create exceptional performance through strong leadership.
OKRs are stretch goals and is not aimed at average performance. Creating exceptional performance requires strong leadership. But what is strong leadership exactly, and how do we apply it?
A key element to leadership is the ability to empower others and to create more leaders. You do not empower others by doing the work for them, instead it is about creating the best environment possible for performance and to provide the best possible tools and infrastructure to support performance.
OKRs are tools that can empower, but mentorship and coaching is needed to ensure sustainable performance, and that is what leaders do – They create the best possible environment (culture and climate), provide the necessary infrastructure and coach and support, too much command and control tends to be a performance ‘killer’ over time.
Strong leadership starts with a strong belief in what the company stands for and what impact they are making. Along with strong leadership a values based culture provides good leverage for OKR frameworks to succeed.
A strong leader never ever gives up, fosters teamwork and collaboration, and guides his people toward the vision of the company through influence, not force. It is easy to mistaken being strong for being very forceful. Being very forceful all the time is not sustainable. A leaders strength comes from a deep level of belief in what the company is doing, trust in its people and a lot of patience and ‘grit’.
Read our latest article on how strong leadership can create exceptional performance: see it here
TIP 9# Unlock the potential of your team.
There are so many things that can stand in the way of your teams and individuals unlocking their true potential such as fears and doubts distilled into non-action or half-hearted action. All your team members have vast potential and some leadership and performance coaches will even dare to say that human beings have unlimited potential.
To navigate around or ‘over’ the fears, doubts and other limiting beliefs harbored by team members requires skill, time and supportive coaching and leadership are required. Challenging times are hard to face yet can be a catalyst for the unlocking of potential as character is most revealed during tough times.
For a company tough times are testing but also provide opportunities –
- It reveals who will truly behave as leaders
- It showcases who are willing to find solutions together
- It can be a catalyst for positive change
- And it can support the unlocking of your teams’ potential
OKRs are stretch goals and are by definition not very simple to achieve. That leads to the necessity of unlocking potential as stretch goals will not be achieved through half -hearted commitments.
The OKR Institutes’ latest blog article explores the unlocking of potential : see it here
TIP 10# Human Leadership
Upon deep research into HR and Leadership trends for 2023, two elements of leadership clearly stands out:
- Leadership has become more complex and executives have to navigate through leading a hybrid workforce ( remote and office workforce)
- The ‘Great resign’ emphasises the need for more empathy with team members. It goes beyond empathy and several factors have to be considered such as inspiration, meaningful work, balance, engagement , wellness and more. A focus on ‘human leadership’ has arised.
In managing a hybrid workforce it is more and more necessary to have a platform for your online workforce that aggregates all required elements of the performance ecosystem –
*The platform must allow for ease and clarity of communication
* Accurate goal management and associated initiatives
* Reward systems
* wellness and engagement must be amplified.
*The vision and value system of the company must be integrated within the same platform
TIP 11# The Four superpowers of OKRs requires strong leadership
The four superpowers of OKRs are truly superpowers when applied collectively. In Isolation they can still have impact but it is in the cohesive and integrated approach to these four principles that the magic lies.
These principles will not consistently apply themselves and it requires a strong focus from leaders to ensure the sustainable application of the four superpowers of OKRs.
The four superpowers are:
To ensure focus on one or very few OKR frameworks that really matter , have a high yield in terms of organizational performance and to galvanize a team around these OKR frameworks requires the presence of inspirational leadership.
Team members will only be likely to focus if the example of focus is set by the leadership. OKRs will only be aligned to the vision of the company if all team members are crystal clear on what the vision is and their role in actualizing the vision is made clear by the leadership.
Leaders can make more thorough and accurate decisions when we keep track of performance related to OKRs, this can be done by utilizing effective software.
Stretch goals can assist in unleashing the potential of individuals and teams. This process is increasingly simplified when the leadership has created a culture that fosters collaboration, development and empowerment.
TIP 12# Leaders should demolish the ‘silo effect’ as well as hierarchy as much as possible.
Initially when people enter the workforce and become part of a team , they are generally speaking, ‘wired’ to first assess what is their status in the team and what they need to do to survive in the team before any sense of job security or belonging is established.
By practically showing that you as a leader or the leadership of the company fulfil a supportive and developmental coaching role and that you are all working in unison to make the inspiring vision of the company a reality you are creating a sense of belonging for team members.
Other factors that helps team members to feel more secure are:
*When they see that their opinion is not only asked for but respected and valued
* When they experience that the ultimate vision of the company carries more weight than individual egos
* When it is practically determined that creativity and open collaboration is fostered irrespective of title
*When the on boarding process makes their career path clear and thoroughly displays the companys’ vision, purpose and culture.
* When clear communication leaves no doubt in terms of roles and responsibilities and next action steps/
It often causes communication issues with the output of a lack of clarity when strong hierarchical practices are still in place. When the silo effect as well as hierarchy is broken down as far as is possible communication becomes easier and clearer as natural side effects, generally speaking.
By sharing the same values and looking up to the same Vision the concern for status within the company becomes lesser. This opens the door for more confident and cohesive action.
Leaders are there to empower others toward a better future for the whole team. If sustainable success is the desire then empowerment and creating other leaders must be a practical reality and not just theory or an agenda point during meetings
TIP 13# Consistently create connection between team members
Generally speaking, people are ‘wired’ to seek human connection and they seek the very same connection in the work place albeit that it is a different context. These connections are linked to a sense of safety and belonging which in turn is a solid foundation for performance.
Within the context of achieving OKRs and actualizing other goals this connection does not only apply to interactions with other team members but also a connection to high standards and the importance of individual contribution to the team and its collective goals.
The word culture is derived from its Latin root – ‘kultus’: meaning to care. Sincerely caring for each other within a culture is the thread that keeps people connected. When people feel that they are connected and cared for, it makes it much easier for them to feel connected to the values, high standards and collective objectives.
High visibility of company objectives, values and initiatives does not only foster transparency but is also easier to feel connected to.
Connection does not mean long meetings or elongated one on one verbal interactions – in some cases they might be necessary, but generally speaking very short, enthusiastic interactions while working together have the highest value.
Optimistic and enthusiastic connections where support is shown, help is offered and mutual understanding is created generally have more quality outcomes than long interactions where there is a lot of talk.
As Leaders you need to take the first step in creating these connections. Asking positive and action orientated questions, verbal praise and working shoulder to shoulder with team members are all activities that create stronger connections over time.
TIP 14# Create a climate of openness and create feedback loops.
When team members know that they can openly debate and challenge the status quo for the sake of improvement, less will be hidden and the leadership will not miss out on opportunities to improve. Leaders that are open to others views and always make strong attempts to remove bias from their thinking and behaviours are more likely to ensure continuous improvement of all elements of the company.
‘Feedback is the breakfast of champions’, as they say but what really matters is how you give the feedback. Feedback that are mostly negative and that consistently harps on the past can be counterproductive.
Feedback that is mostly future orientated, for example having a positive and practical discussion on what a team member, or team members can do to improve future results, have a higher chance of success.
Daniel Coyle in his book, Culture Code describes a well-researched formula for feedback that proved to be way more effective than the other forms of feedback researched during the study. In fact the difference was so clear that they called the more effective feedback, ‘magical feedback’:
‘ Im giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them’ – At first glance these nineteen words appear to be very simple feedback. If we examine this closely it is revealed that this feedback contains three separate but strong cues:
- You are part of this group
- This group is special, we have high standards here
- I believe that you can reach those standards
Providing ‘magical feedback’ as well as future orientated feedback during coaching sessions, check ins and meetings as often as possible are essential ingredients to sustainable OKR success.
TIP 15# Instead of ‘winning at all cost’ focus on developing potential
A ‘winning at all cost culture’ can come with a plethora of negative side effects such as:
- There can be only one winner or very few winners, therefore there must be several ‘losers’
- ‘Winning at all cost’ can come with several transgressions of the personal value system of individuals and of the company, which can have a dire long term effect
- Leads to burnout and overwhelming stress levels
By removing the emphasis on external competition and instead focussing on developing each individuals’ unique potential motivation becomes an intrinsic factor which is more sustainable.
Individuals are unique and have different talents and competencies. We need to create a motivating environment for people wherein it becomes simpler to unleash their own potential. An environment of inclusiveness, collaboration, support, coaching and above all an environment wherein people feel psychologically safe should be fostered and continuously developed.
Hire people with integrity and a willingness to learn and utilize that as a strong foundation for self and team development. Galvanize this team and inspire them through stretch objectives, shared values and purpose/s.
A competitive environment (external) is not the same as a developmental environment (internal focus). The completion should be each individual against her or himself, meaning that the aim is to improve oneself and thereby the team capacity and performance.
TIP 16# Companies grow as fast as their people grow
Company growth, or specifically sustainable company growth is directly tied to the growth and development of the people within your organization.
World renowned economist Daniel Kahneman says: “With people fast is slow, and slow is fast” – Take your time to thoroughly connect with your people, find out what makes them tick, consistently create a motivating climate for people and foster a learning culture. Once that solid foundation is built you can move very fast as a team and create a desired future together.
At the heart of business growth and development must be people development. When a large proportion of team members stagnate in their personal development it will eventually affect company performance.
Offering a clear career path, uplifting coaching and targeted training, as well as a North Star (An inspiring company purpose) combined with belonging cues and a values based culture creates an ideal environment for both personal and team development.
For leaders an integral part of self – development is self-care, to inspire others you firstly must be inspired yourself. As a leader you must be an example of the learning culture that you are shaping, meaning that you must learn from your own failures, learn new skills, and improve current skill levels
TIP 16# ‘Lead the Agile way.’
To not only survive but thrive, we are often required to make decisions much faster, take our products, software and/or services to market rapidly and execute our strategies at a high velocity.
Especially when speed of execution is a very high priority, quality becomes an inherent concern. In order to fully embrace change, to create opportunity, and design a desired future state for your company that is sustainable you have to execute at the highest speed possible, yet speed must be tempered by quality assurance. Increase speed by fostering collaboration, breaking down silos and hierarchies, rapid decision making and immediate action. Improve on quality by utilizing your value system as filters for decision-making and including both the voice of team members and customers as part of your decision making process.