Alignment can be a tricky thing to get down, but it’s incredibly valuable to do so. Without proper internal alignment, the disconnect between company goals and worker motivation can cause serious problems for performance and morale. However, successful alignment goes much further than simple mission statements and motivational messages.
There’s no secret recipe that’ll get alignment taken care of 100% in your company, but there is one tool that continues to make noise is the OKR framework.
Flexible, tangible approaches to reflection and evaluation allow businesses not only to course correct, but to make sure business efforts and company messaging are adequately aligned. Even more powerful is when this framework is married with data. Let’s break down data driven OKR technology.
The Alignment Problem
Disillusionment is a very real problem, and it’s one that many businesses are likely going to face soon—if they aren’t already. Trends in workplace engagement have shown that a paycheck just isn’t enough anymore. Workers don’t just need to make ends’ meet; they need to feel a connection with the work they’re doing. This is, by no means, a bad thing.
However, as the economy continues to tighten, it isn’t as simple as leaving the wrong job to take the right one anymore. Workers are sticking with employment that they don’t prefer over fear of the alternative. The result? Disengagement.
Workers don’t feel motivated or connected to their work, and so performance and morale both take a major hit. This is a problem that needs to be dealt with carefully, and empty platitudes about morale and company direction aren’t going to do the trick on their own. The solution needs to be more involved.
What are OKRs?
Objectives and Key Results. The OKR framework is exactly this. Often, companies will communicate lofty or vague goals to their teams, which can do little to foster any immediate motivation. The OKR framework aims to ground this concept in a more tangible measure, and for many, it’s working quite well.
Essentially, objectives are slightly bigger with more abstract goals; while key objectives are concrete and precise ways of seeing these objectives realized. Both should be measurable, but this structure allows for loftier goals to be approached and communicated in more digestible and obtainable chunks.
This framework is also a great way to bolster alignment. Vague mission statements can quickly be lost in the noise if workers don’t see how their efforts are doing anything to reflect the mission objectives. Key objectives can help break mission ideals into perfectly measurable and tangible tasks, exemplifying exactly how workers’ efforts fit into the bigger vision of the company.
The Power of Data and Technology
One major benefit of the OKR framework is its flexibility. Lofty goal rhetoric is often made in terms of yearly or quarterly reports. This means that if those goals were misplaced or misguided, it’s going to take an unnecessarily long time to course correct. Breaking objectives up into key results can give companies a much quicker timeframe for self-evaluation and, thus, much more flexibility in their ability to course correct. Some might specifically call this agility.
OKR is a great framework to center this kind of agility, but the evaluation and course correction can happen much more quickly and efficiently when strengthened by technology and data evaluation. Rather than wait for specific reports, modern software can provide companies with real-time information about performance and other metrics.
This is especially great for alignment goals because it removes yet another layer of the disconnect. Not only does the OKR framework break down a company’s mission and direction down into tangible action items, but the data-driven analysis can give workers almost immediate feedback on their efforts. That’s motivation in real time, and it’s absolutely invaluable!
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