OKR performance system offers companies a systematic and lean development plan due to the prior determination of goals and key results. It provides you to follow developments depending on the goals and motivate your entire workforce towards the main objectives with its inclusive structure. Here's a real-life example of OKR with OKR determination and steps;
OKR in "Volunteering"
I worked for a company that recognized the value of a sustainable future. As an individual who is aware of social problems, this was very meaningful to me. My objective was ”to make volunteerism a part of company culture". It's an objective that still excites me. But back then, when I first got the objective, I thought it was very difficult. I remember the words of our HR director that empowered me. "Don't worry, we'll provide the resources and information you need to succeed."
Do you think this is an easy target?
The company's objective was “to become an industry leader and increase brand value within 3 years". The objective of “break grounds at sustainability”, that is tied to the top company goal, was distributed horizontally to all company objectives.
When you look at the chart, you can see how it focuses all the components on the same objectives. It seems clear how to reach the top goal. The "O" letter of the OKR method answers the question of what is the "objective". What do you want to achieve? Objectives need to be qualified, hard to reach, and inspiring. It is not a must to include numeric data. More importantly it needs to inspire and excite people when they hear. It triggers creativity. It should also be limited by a time frame and realistic. These objectives encompassed all these characteristics. From production to marketing, from corporate communication to human resources, we were all very motivated and flow-on. There was legendary collaboration between departments. The motivated employee does not count their working hours, does not matter on weekdays or weekends, and voluntarily works for more. They would be willing to reach their maximum performance and do not need continuous management because they are self-directed.
Objectives must be supported with SMART, numerical KPIs. The Key Results part is where it becomes measurable with numbers. We will complete the numerical side with key results that complement the objectives and motivate us as SMART. But now let's look at the objective again.
“To make volunteerism a part of company culture”
Did it seem like an ambitious and difficult objective to you too? It made me and my other teammates lose sleep. How were we going to do it, how would we make an abstract and new concept such as volunteering a part of the company culture?
Normally in those years (2005-2008), the company was planning 3 years ahead and setting goals annually. But we needed a different strategy in volunteering. Because we couldn't see the future like other targets. Will employees be interested in volunteering? What platform are we going to use, will the company provide budget and time support? There were a lot of questions. We decided to write our first objectives as far as we can see ahead and make plans again as far as we reach our objectives. Just like in the OKR method…
As we listened to successful companies in Corporate Social Responsibility and Volunteering practices in the benchmark study of OSGD and discovered similar features of volunteer platforms, the picture began to appear clearer. About 110 employees responded to our volunteering call for our first project. We didn’t have difficulty in finding volunteers for the project, but to choose the volunteers that we will form the first team. We created our second six-month OKR's more clearly than we could ever have predicted. However, there was also a lot of uncertainty, because it was spreading rapidly among employees and we could not predict our limits, how far our success would go. At the end of Q2, we made a successful presentation to the management and got approval for the budget and company facilities that can be used for 2 hours working hours per week for each volunteer. Now there were multiple projects and each project had natural leaders.
When seeing the objectives for each volunteer, you are asking "How can we track and manage so many goals", aren't you?
Yes it was difficult. If only there were OKR-compatible performance management tools back then... With new digital tools, you can plan OKR sharing for different teams, such as volunteering, and also you can provide target distribution within hours and track performance instantly. In the past, I was making a lot of labor-intensive effort with the reviews we could do every 6 months by following up on Excel tables. At the end it was worth it.
By 2017, 50% of the company was working on projects as active volunteers. Volunteers were managing 12 different projects on their own as autonomous teams. The company ended up allocating almost 3 weeks of work per year just for volunteering, while no task was delayed. Volunteers were grateful to the company for giving them this opportunity and the other employees who supported them were working for higher performance results. Volunteers who have reached about 40,000 individuals in 9 years have received dozens of awards. They twice represented Turkey in the European CSR with projects that they carried out with almost zero budget, leaving behind very serious other budgeted projects.
To all volunteers...
Performance ve Culture Development Expert