Any entrepreneur will tell you that launching and running a business requires all hands on deck. In many instances, interns and new hires have just as many tasks on their plate as CEOs. Yet, for all this activity, many companies complain of lackluster – or worse, diminishing – results.
What's going on? After all, Americans are more overworked than ever. In fact, according a poll from National Public Radio, half of people working at least 50 hours a week don't take all or even most of the vacation they earn. What's more, 30 percent of those who do take time off still spend a significant amount of time working.
Yet for all the hours we spend answering emails, writing reports and hosting conference calls, American productivity is surprisingly low. According to Marketplace, despite the fact that our gross domestic product, consumer spending, unemployment rates, home sales and job creation have all improved since the Great Recession, productivity has remained stagnant.
Researchers and economists list various reasons for this phenomenon, but their answers concern the U.S. as a whole. Individual businesses wanting to increase their output can't wait for technology to change the way we work like it did during the dawn of computers. Instead, they have to take matters into their own hands.
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Set fewer goals
If you've already implemented objectives and key results in your organization, you're on the right track. When it comes to goal-setting, however, more isn't always better. Many companies make the mistake of creating too many OKRs, both for the business as a whole and for individual employees. This stretches resources thin, preventing every objective from getting the attention to detail it needs. For best results, businesses and employees should set between three and five objectives, each with no more than five key results.
Focus on alignment
Still, having the right number of goals is meaningless if your company doesn't agree on its priorities. If the entire staff pursues their own conflicting ambitions, the business naturally suffers.
During the BetterWorks Goal Summit this past April, some of our guest speakers stressed the importance of alignment – ensuring everyone in your organization is working toward the same goals. One person's OKRs directly support those of another, and the chain continues up to the goals of the business. Keep your staff aligned with ongoing performance management strategies like frequent check-ins and visible goal-setting technology.
"Feedback is just as beneficial to executives as it is to regular employees."
Get feedback to executives
Even if your executives don't realize it, feedback is just as beneficial to them as it is to regular employees. Everyone should be given the opportunity to evaluate and assess their progress and their goals, especially the people setting OKRs for the entire company. What's more, executives should incorporate feedback shared during employee check-ins into their own decision making. How does the sales team feel about their goals? Are the OKRs of the engineers challenging enough? Having this information allows executives to devise better internal business strategies and increase productivity.
These three solutions are the perfect starting point for any business wondering why its busy employees aren't showing results. Adding more hours to the workweek won't solve the problem. Rather, your employees need a premium goal-setting strategy that increases focues on their objectives.