Keeping OKRs & Performance Management Separate

Our organization is considering rolling out OKRs to drive alignment around our enterprise priorities. All of the research we have done stresses the importance of ensuring OKRs are not tied to performance reviews or compensation. As we draft our plan for the executive team, we are struggling to articulate how to divorce the two processes. Does anyone have experience with successfully separating OKRs from traditional HR processes? If so - can you share some tips/tricks?

Hey @kharris

Welcome to People Geek Answers and what a great question to kick off with! Like you, OKRs are something I’ve started learning about this year, but hadn’t thought about them being tied to my performance. I see them more as directing the work that my team and I are doing.

That said, I’m and individual contributor not in HR, but hopefully this helps a little.

I’ve also found this book and website invaluable on our OKR journey https://www.whatmatters.com/

Cheers

Deb

Hi

We use OKR’s at a team level rather than individual level, and then we talk about an individual’s contribution and impact for performance. This way the OKR result and the individual performance are not correlated.

We only rolled out OKR’s at the beginning of this year, so still learning too. We are going to hold an annual review to help us shape and refine further (although we have also been doing this throughout the year, each quarter).

My advice would be, you won’t get it perfect from the get-go, but that’s part of the learning.

Good luck!
Gemma

Hi -

I’ve also been researching OKRs/formalizing goal setting as part of our overall performance approach. One of our primary focus is to drive top/down and bottom/up alignment that as a team we are focused and working on what matters most. Think- ‘I know how my works ties to company objectives’ etc… But we also want to drive objectivity for our review process. We have an ‘Accomplishments’ section and have received feedback in the past that rating is subjective without clearly set/tracked expectations. We are not thinking that the entire section = ‘goal’ progress, but gives more backing to the assessment & gives visibility and ownership to employee (& manager) as responsible for their set results.

Our senior leaders have started to adopt OKRs as part of QBR process. I am hoping to take this momentum and tie our ‘goal setting’ cadence with the business calendar. I’m currently scoping with plans to implement H2.

@GemmaJ - would love to hear an update on your process. We are also looking to keep OKRs at team level. Do you have individual set ‘goals’ that tie to the OKRs?

Thanks!

Hey @jessolsen,

The aim for us is that every individual can truly see the golden thread that links what they are working on, both individually and within teams, back to the overall purpose and goals of the company. We don’t ask for individuals to have written goals that link directly back to the OKR’s, but everyone should be aware of this through the OKR setting discussions at team level and sprint planning within scrum teams. Our latest employee survey showed that 90% of people responded positively to the question ‘I know how my work contributes to the goals of Sparx’, so we still have some work to do here for that last 10%, however we did have a good number of teams being 100% clear.

Our end of year review for OKR’s concluded that we still need to be more outcome focused, as many areas are still setting OKR’s based on actions and as a result, we are playing it safe and not really aiming for many moonshots, which was one of the reasons we introduced them.

I would be interested to hear what you have learnt/learn as you progress.

Thanks

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