How Can OKRs Transform Underperforming Employees?

Jan 11, 2023
How Can OKRs Transform Underperforming Employees?

In many ways than one, the growth and success of any establishment lie on the shoulders of the employees. As the life force of a business, staff needs to work at optimum capacity.

Organizations and businesses with underperforming employees record higher absenteeism, and their staff is more prone to errors. One of the biggest consequences of underperforming employees is business failure. In a situation where the workforce is not at peak performance, the business suffers in production, sales, customer relations, and reputation. 

One way organizations can turn their fortunes around is by adopting a robust goal-setting, tracking, and management system.

In this blog, we will investigate how OKRs can help transform underperforming employees.

What causes underperformance among staff?

Lack of focus: A lack of focus and clear vision within the company. Without focus and alignment, employees and even managerial staff will channel their efforts toward redundant and unproductive tasks.

Unattainable goals/unsustainable goal setting and management system: Setting unattainable goals or implementing an unsustainable goal management system can lead to underperforming employees. In this case, the staff feels overwhelmed by tasks and doesn’t have a robust system for tracking goals.

Stress and work overload: When employees are under stress and heavy workload, their productivity, and engagement rapidly decline- due to physical, mental, and emotional exertion. Another factor that may contribute to poor productivity is not having a conducive work environment- This could be caused by unfavorable workplace policies, a poor delegation of duties, insufficient resources, etc.

Poor collaboration: As the saying goes, two heads are better than one. The lack of teamwork and effective collaboration can retard the growth of any establishment. An organization that doesn’t promote this type of culture will, most probably, be devoid of innovation, employee engagement, and diversity.

Lack of training and development: for companies to stay ahead in today’s rapidly evolving market scape, they need constant training and development. The onus falls on employers in this case.

What is OKR?

OKR stands for Objective, Key Results. It is a robust goal-setting framework or methodology. The system prioritizes setting smart objectives and measuring progress or milestones using a simple system known as Key Results. While this sounds simple on paper, the framework is capable of revolutionizing workplace culture, practices, policies, and operations. 

One of the strengths of OKR is that it is effective across all levels, i.e., managerial to individual/employee level- This makes it highly effective ( replace words) for ensuring total alignment, implementing focus, boosting creativity, productivity, and more. Let us take an in-depth look at how OKRs can give your employees superpowers.

How can OKRs be a superpower for your employees?

OKR tackles the core issues that can lead to underperformance in the workplace- poor goal setting, tracking, and management system. The framework emphasizes setting SMART goals, meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Organizations, businesses, and companies can track their progress through key results. Results focus on outcomes that indicate success and a clear progression towards achieving your goals rather than activities or projects- as carrying out countless tasks or initiatives means nothing if you are not closing the gap between your efforts and desired targets. 

OKR implements focus across all boards: A lack of focus can lead to severe underperformance. The OKR method tackles this problem by improving focus among all stakeholders involved. For example, a company can set long-term OKRs following its vision, responsibilities can cascade down to lower levels of management to ensure that all hands are on deck and working together to achieve said goals. With this system, individual business units or departments can set clear, relevant, and aligned goals, objectives, and key results and ensure employees stay focused on achieving their targets. Doing this does two things. It eliminates the issue of poor delegation and a lack of focus.

OKR bolsters teamwork and collaboration: As we mentioned earlier, adopting the OKR framework establishes total alignment throughout the company/ business. Effective collaboration and teamwork will drive growth and boost productivity in the workplace. Although teams have different objectives and key results, they can work synergistically together to achieve the company’s short and long-term vision.

OKR helps in learning and development: OKRs can help in employee learning and development by creating a system to help workers meet developmental targets and track their progress.

Here is an example of OKR

Objectives: Implement a reskilling program for departmental staff.

Key results:

  • Implement training programs with at least 90% participation.
  • Conduct three retraining workshops.
  • Ensure all trained staff have a minimum score of 70% after the final assessment and evaluation.


The OKR framework is a robust goal-setting and management methodology that has helped countless companies and organizations overcome low productivity and underperformance. When implemented correctly, it gives workers a superhuman advantage that catalyzes sustainable growth and development. 

However, it is crucial to note that OKRs are not magical solutions that automatically fix all performance and productivity issues. For instance, if employees do not promote a conducive environment for success, growth and employee performance will plummet. The framework should be used along with other strategies to guarantee success.

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