KPIs and OKRs: Don’t let buzzwords get in the way of success

By Bob Weiler

You can spend hours and resources putting systems in place to track and measure any number of key performance indicators (KPIs) and Objective and Key Results (OKRs), but none of these metrics matter if your employees don’t know what is expected of them, if the metrics are too complex to be understood, and if the metrics can not be measured without you. And, recent research by Gallup finds that employees are struggling with clarity  – only six in 10 employees strongly agree that they know what is expected at them at work.

Even as employees are struggling to determine what is expected of them, the number of large employers that have implemented technology tracking tools to monitor employees has more than doubled since the start of the pandemic and is expected to rise to 70% within the next three years.

Here’s the thing, trust and certainty are critical for success. Research that compared companies with a high level of trust and certainty to companies with low-trust and low-certainty, found that people at high-trust companies report: 74% less stress, 106% more energy at work, 50% higher productivity, 13% fewer sick days, 76% more engagement, 29% more satisfaction with their lives, 40% less burnout.

This research echoes recent stories including that of employees at a financial start-up. When employees were asked to download software that tracked keystrokes and mouse movement, some employees started to message each other more to attain the metrics required, others left the organization.

What’s more, high trust companies  are more than 2½ times more likely to be high performing revenue organizations” than companies where there is low trust.

Unclear expectations, lack of trust, metrics that make no sense. This is not a recipe for success. So, what is?

Whether your team is in the office, remote, or hybrid, what we recommend is working with your employees to establish clear expectations and set clear, simple, and measurable goals. Take the time to make sure you and your employees know what is expected, when it is expected, and that they have the tools needed to be successful. This will enable your employees to focus on the work that needs to be done, and not worry about what might need to be accomplished. Further, if you and your employees are aligned, you can trust each other to be accountable, and to get the most valuable and profitable work done.

When working with your employees to establish clear expectations and to set goals, place focus on precision not perfection. Doing this fosters trust and will serve you, your employees, and your organization well as you work together.

Don’t get bogged down in KPIs and OKRs. Instead, establish trust and gain alignment on a few key critical (and simple and measurable) goals. Here is where you will find success.


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