Adding internal objectives and key results to your business practice is a great start to improving employee performance. To help them reach their maximum potential, however, managers and business leaders must be excellent communicators. Here are two questions to ask yourself and determine if your methods set employees up for success:
1. Am I Getting Enough Context?
As The Huffington Post noted, managers need context when looking at OKRs and employee performance. If you see an employee hasn’t met his or her goals, look into possible reasons why. They might not have had the right tools to succeed – for example, the software they use could be slow to open or make changes, costing them precious time. External market factors – something employees can’t help – could also be a factor of poor performance.
This means frequent communication is key for accurately measuring an employee’s success. This gives teams the chance to update their managers on elements influencing their goal progress that are outside of their control. Without recurring check-ins, employees who are reprimanded for not completing a particular objective feel as though they’ve been treated unfairly. Their personal goals will fall out of alignment with what the company wants, and their professional engagement will suffer as a result.
2. Am I Sharing the Right Message?
The key to helping employees succeed with their OKRs is to have a comprehensive conversation during their check-ins. Without the right background information, it’s hard to determine whether a particular project was successful or not. Don’t just ask employees about what’s going well with their work – ask them about the negatives. The two of you can then brainstorm ways to overcome any setbacks that impede progress.
It’s also important to consider what you actually say to employees, both in one-on-one sessions and larger conversations. As Harvard Business Review pointed out, it’s all too easy to become comfortable with a particular message without testing its effectiveness. For example, when the U.K.’s Behavioral Insights Team, a group of behavioral scientists within the government, tested a letter sent to people who owed taxes, they found altering the message slightly resulted in tens of millions of pounds of additional revenue.
Good communication skills are essential for helping employees accomplish their OKRs. Managers must make sure the ask the right questions and convey the right message during check-ins and group meetings.