Back in October 2021 Microsoft acquired Ally.io – you can read about it here. What does this mean for the Microsoft Employee Experience platform (EXP)? It means we will be getting a new Microsoft Viva Module based around OKR (objectives and key results). Microsoft state it will “help revolutionize how organizations use technology to bring deeper connection to work, purpose and results in the hybrid world.” Firstly, lets explain some of this and then share some thoughts on its uses and how it could integrate into Microsoft Viva.
What is OKR Software?
OKR software (Objectives & Key Results software) is a set of tools used for developing strategy and process objectives that connect both the team and the organization. Results software can be used to build out this strategy and track the objectives involved. It can also be used to help drive a business towards a common mission and vision.
I’ve actually used something similar to Ally.io before with a team I managed. It was after reading a book called traction (highly recommend this for any business owner or manager) that I started to implement OKRs. The basic gist of it is, once the company has a clear vision and mission which is generally lead from the very top they need to ensure that the entire company are all pulling in the same direction to achieve the common goal. Quite often that Vision and Mission is a longer term goal or simply something they are continually striving for. So how best can you get your team to all work towards that goal? By creating goals (always helps if they are SMART) I personally found that by working with an employee in their peronsal development plans at a minimum every quarter you could both set goals collaboratively which align to the companies mission and vision; even better if each goal related to a core value.
Each of the goals that were set needed to be checked in on a weekly basis to make sure the employee was on top of them. They could then note down any reasons they were struggling with a particular goal or needed some support or training to help them achieve it. I always ensure to include a peronsal growth goal for each employee as well to ensure they kept the work/life balance up and also to help show them how well they’ve progressed over the weeks/months/quarters/years.
Having a record of these OKRs is invaluable as it can help managers and leaders to report on how well a company is progressing towards their goals and report results at all levels of an organization. When teams see how they are delivering impact, employees stay more engaged, focused and driven in achieving both company growth and their own personal fulfilment. Not only that it can also provides invaluable feedback on areas of the business that are not performing and can give a real insight into why, perhaps a staffing issues, maybe a training issue. It could also help to identify burnout in employees. All really important information for delivering on the Employee Experience.
Practical Uses and Integrations
This is the really interesting part if you ask me, how will this fit into Microsoft Viva and how will it complement and integrate with the other modules and M365 as whole? A few of my own thoughts on this:-
Viva Insights – I can see a real match made in heaven here, being able to see at the manager and leadership level where teams are consistently achieving or indeed not achieving their goals could be a real game change. Using Power BI to identify the reason by comparing things like, team cohesion or employee burnout (to name but 2) against goal achievement could be really powerful for organisaitons. If you could then use an API to use automation to send suggestions to employees about their burnout risk things could get really interesting.
Viva Learning – Another use I think could be great is having built in feedback responses for an employee to say “Hey I’m not achieving this goal as I’m not knowledgeable enough on the subject” you could then have Viva Learning send them learning modules on the subject directly wihtin teams meaning they can upskill in that area.
Viva Topics – Being able to embed a topic card directly within a goal could be an interesting idea meaning the employees or teams can have the info they need to get started on it right there within their Teams environment.
Viva Connections – Having your goal list right in front of you pinned as a card in the Viva Connections dashboard as soon as you open teams would be really useful and would give you the ability to update goals right from your mobile phone within the Viva Connections Dashboard.
Microsoft Teams – We already know this will be built right into teams form the get go but I think some really useful scenarios for this could be the ability to set not only individual but team and organisaiton OKR within the different areas of Teams. Having project related OKR could be interesting as well with the OKR for a particular project added directly to the Teams channel meaning everyone working on it can see their progress and the impact they are having, giving a real sense of purpose.
There are a ton of other use cases for this and I can’t wait to see the release of it. Feel free to comment and let me know what you think and any other integrations or uses you can think for it.