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How Implementing Corporate OKRs Makes Continuous Performance Management Even More Effective

Beth Thornton

October 21, 2021

With the end of the calendar year approaching, many company executives will be assessing performance from the past year and preparing to set OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for 2022. Sometimes, OKR-setting can be seen as a perfunctory activity. If individuals sit down with their manager once a year to talk about their goals and performance, the process can feel like a requirement for filling out an employee’s human resources file instead of a real opportunity for growth and ensuring success for the organization.

But setting and achieving OKRs can, and should, become a practice that is integrated into the daily routine of high-performing individuals and teams. By leveraging the power of Continuous Performance Management (CPM) — and with it regular, high-quality interactions between managers and individuals — OKR-setting can be transformative and essential to improving execution.

Why OKRs Are So Important

For many companies, it’s the senior executives who sit down to set OKRs and go over projections for the coming year or quarter. This is, of course, essential, but there’s much value to be realized by making this process a central component of every employee’s experience.

Identifying clear outcomes for organizations, teams, and individuals improves a business’s economic bottom line and cultivates an engaged workforce. Without well-written, well-thought-out OKRs, organizations can lack a clear strategy and leave employees feeling like they don’t know where to focus their efforts. This is why input from across the organization is critical to ensuring organizational OKRs are adopted and achieved — and ultimately ensuring that all parts of your business are successful.

Supercharge Continuous Performance Management

With CPM, employees regularly collaborate within teams, while managers provide feedback and coaching that corresponds with the needs of the moment. But even with the open communication and regular interactions that are central to CPM, it’s easy for OKR-setting to fall by the wayside.

To maximize the power of CPM, consider having each individual set up a brief OKR-setting session with their manager to set benchmarks for the coming quarter or year. These OKRs can then be referenced regularly to help direct the flow of work. Meanwhile, progress can be tracked and updated often, and potential roadblocks can be removed early on, instead of realizing too late that something stands between an individual and their OKR. 

Setting OKRs is crucial because it provides employees with clear expectations. Indeed, Gallup research has long suggested that clear expectations are essential to ensuring high-quality performance. Not only that, talking with employees frequently about their progress, responsibilities, and OKRs — all central tenets of CPM — helps individuals remain engaged and achieve performance targets.

Communication Helps Keep OKRs in Sight

All employees can benefit from working with clear direction, targets, and deadlines. But it’s not enough to simply set OKRs. They must, instead, be incorporated directly into the flow of work. Consistent communication, with established OKRs as a guidepost, can help prevent wasted time, energy, and resources. It also helps individuals and managers shape their experience in such a way that makes OKRs easier to attain by providing direction for the kinds of coaching that will be most effective.

CPM places high-quality interactions at the center of work. This kind of regular communication ensures that employees receive the support they need to thrive. Combined with the power of CPM, setting — and achieving — OKRs can become one of the central components of your organization’s success.