Companies have been around for a long time — teamwork, too. Naturally, both have undergone significant changes over time. On the one hand, this has to do with advancements in technology, but it’s also a result of changes that have taken place in our society. The question today for modern and agile companies is how to properly apply management in newly founded companies, startups or existing businesses. Which form of business management is the most appropriate for today’s tech-savvy, digital world economy? And is there a general, one-size-fits-all type of employee management which can be used for any modern, agile company? Can individual motivation be implemented in a sensible way in employee management?
OKR is a form of employee management which originated in Silicon Valley and is used today by Internet companies such as Google, Zalando, Twitter, Zynga and LinkedIn (i.e. very successful companies). OKR stands for “Objectives and Key Results” . A slightly more concrete and visual way of putting it is: a mountain expedition with designated milestones. In reality it’s a bit more complicated than that, but the basic idea is quite simple: Each objective is assigned measurable key results. Next, the company objective is defined (also called “vision”). The vision provides the framework for the company’s activities. Important company objectives can be defined in accordance with two essential questions, for example. First: Where will the company be in five years? Second: What needs to be done in the next three months?
A company vision shared by all — OKR can help
The company vision is then broken down into measurable results at each successive level until the level of the individual employee is reached. Aligning all objectives is a matter of negotiation, e.g. on the part of the manager with the employee, on the part of the employee with the manager, and between separate departments. Tasks and subtasks at every level are renegotiated and redefined within this company-wide leadership frame. As an employee, the leadership frame provides a framework within which your motivation can be strengthened. The goals, which are designed to be ambitious and make you feel uneasy at first, need to be met within a defined period of time. At the end of this time period, your results are measured using key indicators. But don’t worry about not hitting your targets perfectly. Normally, objectives are considered met if they have a score of 75 percent. If you hit 100 percent, then the objective was probably not designed to be ambitious enough. On the other hand, objectives with low scores are called into question and usually tossed aside to allow you to better focus on essential objectives.
With the right intranet structure, the OKR model can be implemented completely transparently, allowing everyone to see the objectives of other departments and employees. This makes it possible for each employee to know what objectives the person next to them is working on and thus better understand their own tasks. When everyone knows the answer to the question “Why?”, it becomes much easier to take initiative and make independent decisions. This leadership model enables you to motivate yourself to complete your tasks and achieve your objectives each and every day. You can put up a note at your desk to remind yourself to stay on track towards your objectives. Or you can work with a statistical tool that shows you and others how far along you are percentagewise towards meeting your objective.