Welcome to the Outcomes Era. It’s Time to Update Your Management Methods.

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The pre-2020 workplace is no longer sufficient for employee success — nor is it sustainable. Indeed, far too many businesses are stuck in the Industrial Era, where managers obsess about the details of their employees’ days. But the most successful organizations have embraced the Outcomes Era, in which leaders forget those meaningless details and focus on results.

Those businesses that have yet to leave behind the Industrial Era must evolve. They must understand what’s truly important going forward: flexibility, outcomes, and employee satisfaction. These are the pillars of workplace success in the Outcomes Era. They may not come as a surprise to you, but achieving them is not always easy.

Embracing Flexibility

Over the past year, many employees have settled into working remotely at least some of the time. This should be seen as a positive thing. In one study, 77 percent of employees said they’re more productive when working remotely. In another survey, 47 percent of workers who had the option to work from home said they were “very satisfied” with their jobs.

And yet, many managers are trying to get employees back into the office. As the data shows, it doesn’t matter where an employee works. Those details are irrelevant as long as your team delivers the desired business outcomes. Instead of wondering how to get employees back to corporate offices, ask yourself: How do I tap into my workforce’s potential from afar? How do I strengthen a decentralized team?

Objectives and key results (OKRs) can help you create a strong team while letting go of the details. This management philosophy outlines each employee’s aspirational goals and quantifiable key results to help clarify exactly what an employee needs to accomplish to meet the requirements of a specific role and drive success for the organization.

Another key tool related to the OKR methodology is a visual alignment map, which provides organizational transparency by giving employees insight into their colleagues’ OKRs. The alignment map provides a visualization of exactly how an employee’s responsibilities flow into their colleague’s responsibilities and how that work flows into the overall mission of the organization. With visibility into the entire organization’s structure and each person’s responsibilities, employees get a deep understanding of their role’s importance.

Engagement, as opposed to control, is a guiding principle for OKRs. In the Outcomes Era, managers align employees to their company’s mission, provide them with meaningful work, and explain how this work lifts up colleagues and the entire organization. This engagement serves as motivation, and it makes Industrial-Era micromanagement redundant. After all, employees already have the clarity, direction, and alignment they need.

Emphasizing Outcomes

Outcomes are all about making a measurable impact on your company and its customers. In the old days, managers focused on when exactly employees showed up for work and the specific tasks that occurred throughout their eight-hour workday. That’s antiquated thinking. Modern leaders prioritize results over micromanagement. They don’t ask, “How many phone calls did my employees make today?” Instead, they ask, “How many deals did my team close this quarter?”

How can managers motivate employees to achieve success while letting go of the rest? OKRs can help you hold your team accountable for creating outcomes, not just outputs. The OKR methodology gives you access to the team’s goals, helping you identify what your employees (as individuals and as teams) need to accomplish to create measurable impacts.

Large organizations like Google, Intel, and Oracle use the OKRs framework to create successful outcomes for their organizations. Do you think it’s a coincidence that these are some of the most successful and valuable organizations in the world?

Encouraging Employee Satisfaction

When employees are happy with their management, fulfilled by their work culture, and aligned with the company mission, they are more likely to contribute to their organization’s success. In other words, ensuring employee satisfaction is critical in the Outcomes Era.

What causes employee dissatisfaction? According to Vantage Circle, key reasons include:

  • Lack of career growth
  • Ineffective management
  • Fractured relations with coworkers and managers
  • Poor work/life balance

You can prevent these issues. With OKRs, you can create paths toward career growth for all of your workers by identifying what they need to accomplish in order to advance. Employees concerned about poor management can be reassured by the clarity and collaboration OKRs provide. The OKR framework can even prevent poor work/life balance by laying out each employee’s professional priorities.

Recently, an employee on my team went on maternity leave. Since we use the OKR methodology, she had a clear vision of what she needed to get done before she left. As a result, I wasn’t worried about her tasks, and she was free to do what she needed to do — for her work and her family.

OKRs can help you improve outcomes and align employee tasks with what you need to accomplish. By leveraging this methodology, you can help bring your organization into the Outcomes Era.

Jeremy Epstein is the chief marketing officer at Gtmhub.

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By Jeremy Epstein