Luke Kyte

Part 5: Our culture revolution – Objectives that matter

Category Tags: Culture

We’re just a normal agency. You may own one. You may work for one. We’re ticking along nicely, picking up new business and growing at a good pace. The team size has upped from 1 to 20 in five years, with plans of reaching 50 by 2021. Everyone seems happy.

But we want more.

Day Zero was the launch of our manifesto. Its aim? To revolutionise our culture, attract amazing talent, and be recognised nationally as a great place to work.

Over the course of the next few months we’ll be taking you to the heart of Reddico, sharing our highs, our lows, and our eureka moments. We’ll be honest and open about everything. What works. What doesn’t. Whether you’re here for inspiration, to watch us fail, or out of sheer curiosity, welcome along.

No hours. No managers. Rules set by the team. Let’s see what happens next.

Aligning the team with objectives

Objectives. Most companies have them. Whether it’s top level overall goals, or granular targets for each department or team member, they’re used to assess performance and often impact promotion opportunities or salaries increases.

Without clear objectives (for both personal growth and client success), we can’t launch some of our bolder policies, such as unlimited leave and complete flexibility in working hours.

But, what if you set your own objectives?

Objectives are usually set between each team member and their line manager. This could be at the probation stage or during annual reviews. And targets aren’t usually negotiable.

With our manifesto, we want to change that. We want people to set their own objectives to have a positive impact on their team and the overall goals of Reddico.

This is a significant switch, giving responsibility to the team and empowering everyone to consider how they can make an impact on the bigger picture.

Questions to answer

First things first, we need to identify the questions to answer. By brainstorming issues and potential problems, we’re able to plan and consider how we ensure this is successful company-wide.

  • How many objectives would people have? Objectives could be on top of existing demands, so how will people be able to balance their workloads with a set of objectives?
  • How long would each team member get to complete their objectives? Time is an important element – should they be set weekly, monthly, quarterly or annually?
  • How will we get consistency in structure? Everyone’s role with us is different, so how can we ensure they’re equally challenged?
  • What happens to those who don’t achieve their objectives? Will they go onto a performance review system?
  • How would objectives be aligned? From SEO Consultants to Copywriters, how would we make sure everyone is focused on the overall company targets?
  • Who would be responsible for reviewing objectives? Are they self-assessed or is the line manager involved?
  • How can we make sure they’re tough enough? If they’re self-regulated, will the team opt for more achievable or ‘easier’ objectives?
  • How would those on their probation set objectives?
  • Would everyone’s objectives be shared with the team and easily accessible?
  • Will objectives affect performance reviews? And… will they have a bearing on salaries?
  • How will we inspire the team to take this initiative on board?

Now we have a starter for 10. A bunch of questions that need an answer before we can even think about rolling this out.

Finding a format

We have a goal in mind. We have questions to answer. Now we need a structure that’s consistent across the board. It needs to be easy enough for the team to understand and react well to – whilst having the potential to work for everyone, no matter their job role.

From the experience of senior figures within the team, and their history of goals from various points in their career, we quickly arrived at two options: STRETCH goals and OKRs.

  • STRETCH goals

This type of goal is designed to help you exceed targets. The premise is, once you’ve hit 100%, there’s no longer the same motivation or incentive to continue. STRETCH goals offer this motivation. This article explains a little more on STRETCH goals and when they’re most suitable.

  • OKRs

Standing for Objectives and Key Results, OKRs align people to one goal, with smaller objectives needed to achieve this. Essentially, it breaks a bigger objective up into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Following the footprints of Google

With a vision to take objectives to a granular level where anyone can help Reddico grow, and have the influence to do this, OKRs stood out.

Here’s how they work:

OKRs are built around two questions:

1. Where do I want to go?
2. How will I get there?

They should all be:

Ambitious: You shouldn’t set easy goals. Push yourself and see what more you can achieve with tough targets.

Measurable: To be measurable, they need to be qualitative. There can’t be any subjectivity in whether or not you have hit your objective, or how much of the target you’ve achieved.

Transparent: All objectives are visible to the whole team. This increases collaboration and encourages people to work together in an effort to hit common goals.

From a format perspective, you choose one objective and then detail how you’ll get there. For example:

Objective: Drive more business sales for Reddico
1. Have initial conversations with 10 new customers every month
2. Improve conversion rates to 70%
3. Bring on 5 new clients every month

This extensive video from Google shows how the media giant uses OKRs across its business to challenge teams and individuals.

The 70% debate

So, we’ve started to settle on a format and consider how team members can go about setting their own goals. Of course, this still needs to be tailored to Reddico and there’s a lot of work needed to get there – but it’s progress.

Now let’s talk quickly about a debate we had in-house, and we’re sure you’ll have an opinion on too.

OKRs are designed to be ambitious. They’re there to push people and encourage them to think differently about any problems or difficulties that crop up.

So, what’s the 70% debate?

Well. at Google, success is measured at 70%. If you hit this, you’ve performed well. Why? Because OKRs are tough. Hitting 100% is (historically) nigh impossible.

However, the notion of just aiming for 70% and that being celebrated as a success can be a tough one to digest. Why would you set a benchmark that’s lower than achieving the full objective?

You have two counter arguments:

  • Aim for 70%. Encourage the team to set very ambitious (and almost impossible) targets that would test their ability to problem solve and identify solutions.
  • Aim for 100%. Everyone should be aiming for full completion by using the same problem solving skills, rather than setting a 70% mark.

Have you had any experience of either approach or think one’s better than the other? Get in touch and let us know – we’d love to hear some thoughts on the subject.

You’ll find out what approach we went for later on.

Structuring our own OKRs – Part 1

So, we decided OKRs are the way forward – there’s no debate other than the 70% question. Now we need to model these on Reddico and understand how they’ll work for each department.

It’s back to brainstorming.

Drawing on inspiration from the four pillars of the Rockefeller Habits, we can start to build out what the team can work on to make a real difference to our top level objectives.

The four pillars are:

  • People
  • Strategy
  • Execution
  • Cash

And as simple as that, this thinking started to carve the way for real progress and an understanding of what would collectively help.

This photo demonstrates some of the early thinking and structure of the approach we wanted to take.

Under each section we started to conceptualise what team members could start to think about, if they were given OKRs tomorrow.

For instance, under [People], we started to identify:

  • Fun OKRs to improve office environment
  • Training
  • Partnerships
  • The internal and external NPS score
  • Glassdoor reviews and online reviews
  • In-house presentations from key stakeholders (our Managing Director, Nick Redding etc.).

Then, under [Execution] we started to plot ideas around:

  • Activation, how we can improve onboarding and create more meaningful relationships with clients
  • Development and creation of new assets
  • Client retention strategies
  • Escalation processes
  • KPIs.

This was a great start. But nothing unique, and little that would excite the team or align everything to the Reddico culture and manifesto as a whole.

It still felt corporate.

What happened next can only be described as a lightbulb moment. It changed the face of our OKRs and gave us a platform to launch from.

We suddenly had clarity, were able to tie everything back to the philosophy of the manifesto, and deliver to the team something they could take and have ownership of.

What’s next?

Next up, we’re sharing our complete OKR structure. We’ll be detailing what makes our format different and providing the full PowerPoint presentation that was given to the team for their thoughts and feedback.

There’ll be information on how OKRs are aligned to top level company targets, and examples of how every department can get involved.

We’ll also be addressing another issue – should there be a monetary incentive in place for encouraging the team to hit their objectives?