How OKR motivate talents intrinsically to contribute to your company goals?

Challenges in nowadays talent market

I have heard too many team leaders or CEOs complain that it is too difficult to retain talents: those “real” talents will not work as employees. They would rather be entrepreneurs.

Yes. Our talents are changing.

Compared to their elder generation, the younger generation’s physiological and safety needs are satisfied. Their basic needs have been upgraded to love, belonging, and self-actualization.

If you still use the carrot and stick to motivate them, they will not buy-in. If you cannot provide what they are looking for, your goal will never be their goal.

Zhang Lei, a Chinese billionaire businessman, investor, the founder of Hillhouse Capital Management Ltd, thinks: Talent is an investment that never needs to withdraw.

Suppose you want to build up a sustainable talent pipeline, you should consider using OKR (Objectives & Key Results) to invest your talents in three aspects.

What is OKR?

OKR has 2 components: Objective&Key Results.

It originated from Intel in the 1970s. Creating alignment within the organization and ensure everyone is working towards the same direction is one of the most significant benefits that OKR provides.

OKR becomes famous when Google grew more than 10X by using OKRs.

OKR: Investment for the growth of your talent

When your talents join you, they expect to get this burning question answered: How can I accelerate my growth and become competitive in the market with your guidance?

How do your talents know whether they grow within your company? When they see themselves achieve extraordinary results.

If one of your products’ current revenue is 9 million, what would be your goal to grow it in 4 months? Perhaps you think the economy is affected by Covid-19, so you want to set a goal like 10%? 50%?

This is a key result of one of our clients. The key result was to grow from 9 million to 45 million. By the end of the 4th month, they managed to achieve 36million!

When we asked them, “What have you learned from this”

The key result champion said: “We did not achieve our goal, but the team seeks out challenges where we can develop ourselves. We learned we could not achieve the aspirational goal by using the existing processes and resources. We learned to use creativity to get new resources and optimize the processes. ”

OKR always encourages people to set aspirational goals because this is mutually beneficial: talents get to feel more competent, and they perceive it as a career benefit. Employers get to have more business innovation and transformation.

OKRs: Investment for your talents’ value &purpose

Daniel Pink, an American business & management writer, shared the evidence of scientific studies on motivation and rewards: for work that involves more than the fundamental cognitive challenge, traditional monetary reward systems do not work well.

In many companies, sales force motivation is primarily related to monetary rewards.

However, Alibaba’s philosophy is: money is not the only motivator for sales or other talents. Once the talents perceive they are paid fairly, they are inspired by intrinsic elements such as a sense of fulfillment and self-actualization.

One of the previous Alibaba sales general managers recalled: when she joined Alibaba for three months, a local TV brought a group of patients with myasthenia gravis to visit the company.

They open shops in Taobao because they want to spend the remaining life with dignity. They appreciated Taobao for providing them the precious business opportunity, so that’s why before they die, they visit Alibaba.

When she was listening to those patients, she was touched to tears. She started to understand the company’s mission: to make it easy to do business anywhere.

Since then, she has transformed her mindset when she is working. She realized this is not only a job for her to make money, but she realizes her purpose in helping others.

When we use OKRs to help our clients draft company goals, we always ask the below questions:

-Whom do we serve?

-What is our purpose?

-What is our core offering?

-What is the long-term impact we make?

By answering the above questions, talents have a great WHY to link what they do daily with the company strategy, and the company goal becomes a shared goal at the workplace.

OKRs: Investment for your talents engagement

Before we ended the reflect and reset meeting with the overseas marketing team, we asked them what impact their objectives and key results bring to the company?

Talent engagement takes a lot more than just keeping your employees happy and have fun. It is about getting your people to believe in and stay committed to a shared purpose.

How to improve employee engagement? We need to create a culture of transparency.

One of the challenges that make talents desperate is: when managers share a new direction or a new plan, only the team leader understands the “why,” the rest of the team are still in the dark.

That’s why the new direction or plan comes across as a top-down instruction rather than a shared team goal.

What does good workplace transparency look like? In ByteDance, talents may not be aware of each other’s title within the company, but all of them can see each other’s OKRs.

Even you are front-line employees, and you still get access to CEO’s OKRs. Xie Xin, the vice president of ByteDance, thinks: transparency fosters a collaborative working environment that employees trust and respect each other.

For example, when colleagues are having cross-department meetings in ByteDance, they do not know each other. But when they open their colleague’s OKRs, they know what their colleagues are doing and how they contribute to the organizational goals.

During the OKRs check-in meetings in ByteDance, team leaders improve employee engagement by being honest with them, answering their questions, letting the team members know what is happening and the reasons behind each objective.

You can motivate your talents intrinsically to achieve company goals

Completing your company goals without your talents’ efforts is like a body without a soul.

Without intrinsic motivation, your talents will lack direction, let alone getting an emotional commitment, and you will find it hard to get your people to push beyond the bare minimum. What’s worse, your company’s growth will stagnate.

OKRs requires you to invest in your talents growth, purpose&value, and engagement. Having the correct method to implement OKRs in your company will indeed go a long way in helping you build a sustainable and robust talent team.

Want to learn more about applying OKRs to motivate your team intrinsically to achieve your company goals? Book a 30 minutes zoom meeting with me.