Almost two years of corona, combined with demands from the board you sit on and challenges in the organization you lead, means that many managers feel they are unable to perform optimally. They are not up to the task. Several are in the hamster wheel. Employees struggle to keep motivation up. Leaders strive to get everyone moving in the same direction. Many are tired. Now it is more important than ever to create clear goals for the organization. We need to feel achievement. Leaders must adjust their way of leading. Everything goes faster. The people are further away. The chatter in the hallway or at the coffee machine, which gives a good “check-off” and ensures progress, is gone.
The question is, what do leaders need to do differently? Is it possible to make people feel accomplished in these times?
Jan is a manager in a larger organisation. He has a board that has clear guidelines for growth and returns. Jan has a strategy, clear KPIs and knows the organization and its people well. He sees that it will be difficult to deliver on all the KPIs that have been set. The board wants growth. Jan struggles to keep motivation up in the organisation. At management meeting after management meeting there are red numbers, despite everyone working to the best of their ability. He has said that things will become easier and that the workload will decrease. The people have lost a little faith. Jan has been a manager for a few years, and is good at strategy and target figures. Now he needs help. How can he build trust in the organisation? How does he make the people feel a sense of achievement, go in the same direction and regain their motivation?
He has read about OKR, – “Objectives and Key Result”, which has come like a breeze into the business world. He likes philosophy. When there are changes, a goal is set to achieve the change. Key Result is what results must be achieved to achieve the change. He tests out the tool, and this becomes a bright spot for Jan. It works. The platitude about how to eat an elephant becomes clear to him. He has to take it bit by bit, building stone by stone.
A good round in the leadership group, and Jan has three good Objectives, or goals as he likes to call them. One of the goals is for him to invest in agricultural customers as a new customer group. But how will they manage this? Work continues, and the management group agrees on five concrete results that must be in place to reach agricultural customers. The management team is satisfied. Jan sets short deadlines. The head of sales holds meetings with his own section and sets his own OKRs on the basis of OKRs with the agricultural customers. There will be focus and prioritization. Already at the next management meeting, they can check that they are closer to the target. They have accomplished something. Some results have been achieved. The numbers on the target are positive and green. The management group and the section for sales feel mastery and achievement. Jan is inspired and his motivation increases. When belief, motivation and inspiration increase, yes, only THEN can Jan build security and regain trust in the organisation.
Jan is constantly confronted with the fact that there are too few measurement tools in the organisation, too few resources, too short deadlines or that the employees are overworked. Jan ponders. What does he do with this? There are always some external obstacles that prevent people from getting what they want. Jan believes that his managers and employees must take more responsibility. Jan must dare to give more responsibility down in the organisation. Many managers have thought about this before Jan, but it is difficult when control and quick answers from the board are required. Jan sets this as his personal OKR. The goal is for everyone to take more responsibility. One of his most difficult performance goals is then to delegate down both responsibilities and priorities. Can he do this? He wants everyone to take more responsibility. He wants everyone to become good at setting OKRs, goals and performance targets.
Everyone must own the performance requirement. Everyone has to prioritize. True enough, this is easy to say. Here are four tips to get a little better;
- Find the short-term changes. Set goals and performance targets. Use OKRs.
- See and recognize achievements. People need to be seen
- Use a software solution that is transparent where EVERYONE is responsible for their own delivery
- Take a Jan! – believe that everyone needs development, a sense of accomplishment and having fun
These became Jan’s important points. They worked for him. The goals became more precise. There was a clearer direction on what was to be carried out. It became easier to prioritize. It became easier to communicate and follow up measures. Managers and employees felt a greater sense of ownership of the job and the community. In this case, they got more agricultural customers. They celebrated their success. They learned something and felt development, they felt achievement and it was a lot of fun. This gives dopamine in the body to affect work effort and well-being.
Jan and the management team gained more trust in the organisation. Many have read up on SMART goals or created good strategies. Now we have to think further. We need to change faster. We have to include all the people. We must dare to give more responsibility down in the organisation. It should be fun at work. This technique is practical, simple and it makes YOU as a leader a LITTLE better.