We’re taking OKRs mainstream to transform performance management

by Roger Longden | Jan 19, 2018

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Objectives and Key Results (OKRs for short) are changing how companies define and communicate success. Why not have a read through our free beginners guide to OKRs to get more information on how you can align and grow your company.

I came across OKRs during my research into alternative – and more effective – ways to motivate and manage performance. I’ve always envisioned successful performance management as the way that a business “executes its strategy.” In other words, how it helps everyone to understand what the priorities are and the impact they can have on them. 

Successful performance management isn’t always easy

However, the reality is that successful performance management has been a rarity in large business for many years. Traditional strategies have been at best ineffective, and evidence now points to it being highly counterproductive at a psychological level. The offending item: the annual appraisal.

Performance management using OKRs has gained a lot of traction in SMEs with up to a couple of hundred employees, particularly those in the tech sector. However, this strategy is yet to gain significant uptake in larger more corporate organisations. Sure, there have been announcements from corporate titans like Accenture and PWC. These companies have said they’re doing away with annual proposals in favour of more “check-in” based approaches. This may be quite close to managing performance using OKRs. However, there are some major challenges that many large corporations will need to see solved before they will have the confidence to ditch the appraisal entirely.

Namely, these companies will need to collect data to support decisions around:

  • Reward
  • Recognition
  • Promotion
  • Training & development

There is no rule book when it comes to OKRs – more a number of OKR best practices tied together with a common ethos. We therefore have no author to provide us with their view on how to solve this. But I believe that presents us with an opportunity. 

We want to talk about performance management using OKRs

There be Giants is launching an initiative to put OKR scale-up challenges like these out to “the crowd” to tap into some collective wisdom. In late January, the first Performance Management Community Practice group (catchy title I know) will meet in Manchester. My plan is for the group to offer both physical and online meet ups on alternate months. Our focus will be the challenge of implementing successful performance management using OKRs in larger organisations. We already have some great stories and case studies from OKR pioneers wanting to share their experiences.

I’m really excited about this, as our first session is already fully booked, with all 25 places taken. However, to attend our next session or learn about our findings, send us your details and we’ll keep you in the loop. I can’t wait to hear more about successful performance management using OKRs from businesses of every shape and size.


Register to the performance management community of practice group