key-results

What Happens When You Focus Your Team on Key Results

By: Mark Grosser

Creating and maintaining alignment around desired team outcomes is one of the greatest challenges team leaders face today. How do leaders focus a team on the Key Results that matter most given the fast pace of business, shifting priorities, and market demands that require agility and innovation? Added to this is the rise in remote work, whittling away the face time that teams once spent together problem-solving and collaborating on projects.

A result of this is that too often, employees are left in the dark when it comes to what the desired results even are, let alone the larger purpose driving them. In fact, according to our landmark Workplace Accountability Study, which surveyed over 40,000 participants, just 15% of organizations clearly define their Key Results — the three to five meaningful, measurable, and memorable topline organizational results that employees should be working towards.

Modern challenges require modern solutions. Propeller™, an interactive, solutions-driven digital tool, helps team leaders cut through the noise and the complexity to focus their teams on the outcomes that matter most to team and organizational success. Designed for integration with teams of any size, Propeller provides team leaders with a digital platform to clearly communicate  and gain higher visibility into progress toward topline results.

Read on for a deeper dive into some of the interactive features of the Key Results module — and how you can put them to work to improve team results.

Defining Key Results Is Critical — But How Do You Do It?

Propeller’s Key Results module empowers leaders to clarify crucial organizational objectives, communicate progress, build alignment, and gain insight into employees’ personal level of ownership for these objectives. The module includes interactive features for employees and can articulate the organization’s purpose, clarifying the critical why behind the what that drives high performance.

To begin, team leaders should consider the most important topline deliverables — the targets that the team must collectively achieve. Propeller provides video examples and interactive guidance to assist leaders in crafting Key Results that are meaningful, measurable, and memorable.

A Digital Way to Communicate Key Results

Once a team leader identifies and defines three to five Key Results, the next step toward creating higher levels of commitment and alignment within the team is to communicate these targets effectively. Team leaders do this by entering the Key Results into Propeller, where employees can access the results and learn more at any time.

Leaders can also upload a personalized video message that offers encouragement or provides further clarity around a specific Key Result. This is yet another opportunity for leaders to deepen employees’ understanding, align mindsets, and promote accountability to deliver on these goals.

When a leader enters a Key Result in Propeller, the platform creates four paths of critical, value-added team communication around that result: Updates, Questions & Comments, My Impact, and Ownership.

Update a Team on Progress Towards Achieving Key Results

For a team leader, it’s critical to keep every member of the team on the same page when it comes to progress towards Key Results. That’s why users can see current progress updates or browse historic updates for each Key Result entered into Propeller.

Updates are posted by leaders and may detail quarterly profit growth, sales, regulatory scores, and other indicators of progress. When a leader posts an update, push notifications go out to every member of the team so that all employees are aware of new developments as soon as they are announced. These updates enable users to keep tabs on the gap that remains between current progress and the must-have outcome.

Featured prominently alongside each Key Result on the Propeller app, users see a status indicator that alerts them when a result may be in jeopardy. The leader can adjust the status of each Key Result to either “on track,” “at risk,” or “off track” whenever needed.

Notifying the team of gaps in progress, or flipping a Key Result to “at risk,” can spur team members to explore what else they can do to accelerate progress. Propeller encourages a solutions-oriented mindset around Key Results by providing a quick and easy digital avenue for crowdsourcing solutions — the Solve It module — as well as a fast path for sharing perspectives on what’s helping or hindering progress — the Feedback module.

Employee Questions and Comments

Leaders can build employee buy-in by addressing employees’ questions and concerns about team outcomes. The Q&A tab features a user-friendly interface for employees to post their input or queries regarding progress toward Key Results and for leaders to respond. Users can “thumbs-up” one another’s comments and questions as well as sort them by popularity and date submitted, while leaders can sort comments and questions to prioritize them for response.

When leaders answer employees’ questions (Why these Key Results? How do we measure this result?, etc.) directly, they foster a higher sense of purpose and inspire teams to engage more fully with their work.

Creating a Personal “My Impact” Statement

The My Impact forum empowers users to contribute a personal statement about how their individual duties at work directly contribute to the achievement of the organization’s Key Results. Users can browse others’ impact statements, filtering chronologically or alphabetically by name, to gain insight into the diversity of contributions across the organization and how they interact to produce each Key Result. Leaders can inspect how each person defines his or her focus and impact, setting the stage for feedback and coaching to affirm or adjust personal priorities.

Creating and sharing a personal impact statement about how one’s daily work contributes to team and organizational success encourages individuals and teams to take positive accountability — described by the New York Times bestseller The Oz Principle as “a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results.”

Take a Pulse on a Team’s Level of Ownership

A fourth tab of the Key Results module prompts users to select their level of personal ownership for each Key Result. Individual selections are kept anonymous, but Propeller shares a pie chart with the team showing the percentage of team members responding at each level — “Buy-in/Invest,” “Comply/Concede,” “Exempt/Excuse,” and “Resist/Resent.”

While many lower-priority outcomes can be accomplished in a Comply/Concede mindset, it’s incumbent on leaders and teams to ensure that ownership for Key Results is at the highest level—Buy-in/Invest. When ownership for a Key Result is insufficient or eroding, the Ownership feature in Propeller acts as a signal to leaders and team members to put more work into communicating the purpose (or the why) behind the Key Result — or, in some cases, to rethink the Key Result itself to ensure that it is meaningful, measurable, and memorable.

Achieve Lasting Results

As a team leader, effectively communicating your team’s three to five “must-have deliverables” empowers employees with a clear sense of focus and purpose in their everyday work.

Leaders build accountability for Key Results by regularly updating employees on progress, addressing employees’ concerns and questions, and above all, asking each employee to take full ownership for achieving them. When you deliver on these counts, you build a unified, highly accountable team that is equipped to reach and surpass ambitious goals.

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