The tough times of 2021 are a major threat to the survival and growth of startups. To survive, they can adopt OKRs to enjoy the following benefits and build the required resilience:
The pandemic has devastated most segments of the economy, sparing just a few. People-intensive sectors which cannot deliver their work remotely are the most affected. Others have struggled to adapt, changing their business dynamics and adapting to the new circumstances with unfailing resilience. Startups too, especially nascent ones, have also suffered setbacks, in varying degrees based on their business models. Their ability to revise their original business models and plans, as well as their openness to realigning themselves on the go, is important here. Some have become stunted in their growth, struggling to balance the variety of issues that keep threatening to crush them.
But startups need not abandon all their dreams of success and can deal with the realities through some strategic and agile approaches to survival, one of the keys being by adopting OKRs. An OKR framework can help startups stay afloat and survive adverse circumstances, however unprecedented. Let us look at how that would be made possible, through the various benefits OKRs offer.
Every startup is unique in its own way as are its needs. However, there’s one thing we can say is common to all of them, without exception. That is their fragile nature and their need for agility to make sure that they survive all threats while they grow. Most startups do not usually adopt any full-fledged technology systems either, in the initial stages, which makes it even harder for them to be truly agile.
A startup may not reach its potential early without setting ambitious goals for itself. This is where OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) comes into the picture which enables any business to set ambitious goals and grow into mammoths like Google – which owes its growth to OKR-based goal setting too.
By adopting an OKR-based performance management system, a startup would enjoy the ability to quickly respond to dynamic business requirements through shorter cycles and revise its goals and re-orient itself to better performance through dynamic changes in response to the pressures on performance.
OKRs are set at the organizational level and then broken down to the team and individual levels. This helps to improve the alignment of employees to their work and bring transparency to their efforts while increasing their engagement. There is no confusion in anyone’s mind as everyone pitches in with their best efforts to reach the business goals set for them.
An employee is the microcosm of an organization. With the implementation of OKRs, an organization begins to follow a framework – a practical, simple one – that will help track and quantify goals. Employee goals are aligned with business objectives, allowing the entire workforce to have a singular direction of focus. What is more, with OKRs, this focus is refined, allowing all stakeholders to bring their attention to what is truly important, and what will translate to improved performance. Every employee – from managers to contributors – is allowed to see the company-wide vision.
In a virtual world, OKRs are imperative, as they keep people aware, accountable, and engaged. An OKR-based system enables managers to conduct frequent reviews, say on a monthly basis, or even sooner (depending on the needs of the business). This process establishes interaction between managers, co-workers, and individual employees. It is an ongoing conversation that helps managers to know if their teams are performing up to expectations and to re-align strategy. Ultimately, it demands tangible results which ensure that the organization achieves its goals.
OKRs help to create a badly needed structure that showcases priorities and clarifies the role of each and every team member in achieving them. This makes it easier to quickly spot the hits and the misses and realign the activities of an entire team. Managers can ensure that the desired outcomes stay prioritized and that team members know what is required of them. This saves time and helps to make better and informed decisions to stay productive.
Many times, startups fail because they forget to articulate their goals and a strategic intent which makes them correlate their daily activities to a final, desired outcome. This focus helps them move beyond a work culture that chases after tasks that do not further their goals or just putting out fires without realizing that they are neglecting to firm up the foundation on which their future needs to be based. OKRs bring such focus into their activities. This is especially important for today’s virtual, disparate teams whose collaboration and alignment with organizational goals prove essential to its ultimate success.
To grow and succeed, startups need to think things through and establish processes that turn the chaos of a startup to order. A lack of motivation to adopt such discipline at the outset could make a startup pay a heavy price as it grows. OKRs prove invaluable to startups as they gain the necessary discipline, keep their teams aligned and on the path to success, surviving not just in 2021, but through the years to come.
You can also read how startups can benefit using a PMS and best practices for business annual planning with OKR framework