okrs for HR

Category: OKR University.

In the 2020 new normal, every successful business organization can be visualized as a dense network of empowered teams that are distributed geographically and still operate with high standards of alignment, accountability and transparency. Now, more than ever before, HR Department has to aggressively play an integrating role across these distributed systems to bring coherence among them. HR is a critical business function that recruits and nurtures the most precious resource for the organization – their people. However, very few companies have a strategic view of the critical function of HR.

Typically, Objective of the HR Department is to ensure business continuity and to improve efficiency and engagement even during remote work. At the same time, HR Objectives should be the challenging goals that inspire their team to achieve solid progress within the desired period, generally a quarter. For example, if the organization is struggling with a current training program for new employees–to fix that, we can create an objective “Create a world Class Employee Onboarding Program.” The Key Results can be:

  • KR 1: Improve Employee satisfaction after onboarding to 95%
  • KR 2: Ensure 90% readiness of employees in 4 weeks
  • KR 3: Map 100% of new recruits with mentors

To implement successfully the above-mentioned objective and also similar other objectives, OKRs can be used.

4 benefits of HR departments of using OKRs:

  • Narrows the gap between strategy and execution through CFR: To have the various teams – Corporate, Marketing, Sales, and Design to focus and stay aligned, to deliver on the customer demands, the HR Department can have an OKR with an Objective that focuses on “outcomes” than “output”.

    Once outcome-based goals are set, the OKR framework encourages Conversations, Feedback and Rewards (CFR) where continuous conversations and feedback happen throughout the quarter. Rewards and appreciation are delivered throughout the quarter rather than waiting for the end of the year. Hence there is no surprise at the end of the year, problems like the “recency effects’ are eliminated as continuous feedback” can be recorded in the OKR tool.

    This ensures that both the employee and the manager are clear about the contribution of the employee towards the corporate goals and value generated, eliminating the usual stress involved in the appraisal process.

  • Creates Structured log of progress through PPP: The Progress, Plans, and Problems (PPP) framework is an effective status management method where the log of the progress (what has been done) made during the past period, the plans (what will be done) for the next period, and the problems (what are the roadblocks) foreseen by each employee/team are recorded.

    PPP on OKRs, keeps the entire team on the same page, while also helping individual team members set better personal targets, remain on task and plan realistic goals. By putting everything in writing, teams avoid unnecessary miscommunication. Thinking along these lines simplifies and streamlines the reporting process.

    The HR Manager can reference the PPP documents at any time, allowing him to judge progress, offer help to anyone struggling, and assign tasks effectively.

  • Seeks Actionable feedback through Reflect/Reset: While check-ins by employees happen more frequently, quarterly Reflect/Resets allows the HR team and individual OKRs to be reviewed holistically. Reflect/Reset enables you to reflect on the achievement for the current quarter (celebrate!!!) and apply the learnings to reset them for the next quarter.

    With the insights from Reflect/Reset, the HR Manager with a growth mindset can enable all the team members to grow, expand, evolve, and change. In continuous pursuit of engagement, all team members will feel emotionally invested into the goals of the Department.

  • Fosters Continuous Learning through PEEL Approach: The Plan, Execute, Engage and Learn (PEEL) approach gives a walkthrough of the OKR journey and has 4 steps: Plan your OKRs, Execute your OKRs, Engage the employees and Learn from successes and failures in an institutionalized way.

    During the Planning stage, the HR Manager determines what objectives are challenging yet achievable for his Department so that he can build departmental OKRs around the Corporate’s OKRs. This process involves a lot of internal discussion with the team about the target. During the execution stage, the Manager begins to check-in on the progress that’s being made. Here, Departmental OKRs can be broken down into tasks either by the Manager or the individual to accomplish their Objectives and Key Results.

    The third part of the cycle focuses on engaging employees. There is lots of interaction within the Department- Managers, peers, and subordinates through an awards system that is based on the completion of OKRs.The final phase centres on learning and reflecting on the experiences gained during this period. This gives an opportunity to consider what has been learnt already and where we want to go next. What really matters is the learning of what worked and what did not during the Quarter and not track the progress alone.

This process of creating and executing OKRs isn’t finite. Instead, it’s a cycle that requires engagement and practice in order to truly learn from experiences. A senior HR Executive, say a CHRO, can anchor this exercise as the HR department continues their execution using OKRs.

Employee Engagement scores will improve and Customers and partners will notice their win-rates and CSAT scores will rise. All these will result in a sea change in the organisation’s culture moving towards self-driven employees, each willing to take stretch goals and collaboratively form empowered teams that collectively celebrate team achievements. This puts the organization on a trajectory of rapid ascent towards achieving their ambitious goals and also, adds immense value to the organization.

A new model for the role of Chief HR Officer (CHRO) is emerging in the fast-growing tech companies to bridge the growing gap between their strategy and execution. Read on to know about our experience with one of our customers and how CHRO handled their operations with OKRs

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