Recently, I conducted over 30 in depth interviews with our clients and the number one insight was that about 80% of companies were using spreadsheets before they gave up and switched to an automated tool to manage their goals.
So, if you are already using or considering to set and track your goals, you should seriously consider if spreadsheets is the right place to do that. You might end up wasting your precious time.
Here is what some of them had to say about implementing goal-setting in spreadsheets:
- “Google spreadsheets were hard to use and hard to manage”
- “Google sheets were too complex for goal-setting”
- “It was hard to update and hard to follow”
- “We stopped using spreadsheets as often as I would've liked.”
- “People were not engaged with the system and did not update their goals”
- “The central problem with spreadsheets were that it was a time consuming process that was difficult to manage and keep track of”
Don't get me wrong, spreadsheets are a great tool for getting started and organizing your personal goals, but the number one problem with spreadsheets is implementation. In order, for people to be engaged with their goals, you need to make it as easy and comfortable as possible.
One of our clients Kaspar – CEO of Humanitec AG, illustrated the point very well: “It is sometimes difficult to convince people to get started with goal-setting, so you want a solution that is extremely simple, intuitive and excellent to understand. Otherwise, people feel overwhelmed and face the daunting task of using yet another tool”.
We are a team goal-setting software and Weekdone offers one of the best goal-setting frameworks out there – Objectives and Key Result aka OKRs. If you don't know anything about OKRs, here is a great resources page to get you up to date. I have provided 6 key benefits that our clients have pointed out about spreadsheets vs an automated goal-setting tool. Even if you don't know the OKR framework, the following points will illustrate why spreadsheets is not a good way to set and track goals.
1. You don't have to manually set up a goal-setting template.
With an OKR software you would have a pre-filled out template, where you can easily insert your objectives and 3-4 key results. In addition, you can add a custom measurement unit to any key result. Whether it is a percentage, numerical value or even currency.
2. You can link personal goals to team, department and company goals to get a hierarchy view
In order, for people to understand how each team member plays a part in taking the whole company closer to its goals, linking goals is essential. With a tool you can easily link all of the goals in every level.
You can link individual objectives to team objectives, team objectives to department level and all the way up to the company level. That way everybody can have an instant view of everyone's goals and therefore increase the transparency and engagement.
“The clear benefit of Weekdone is that we are more aligned, structured, and people feel more connected.” Kaspar von Grünberg – CEO of Humanitec AG Read more
3. Easy to follow and update your progress on goals
That is one of the biggest pain points that get in the way of successful goal-setting implementation with spreadsheets. With a tool you can update your progress with one click. The system will instantly update the status of your goals and if the objectives are linked to other levels, it will also change the progress of other Objectives and Key Results.
Also, the changes made are instantly visible to everybody else. With a tool like Weekdone, everybody will get a notification in their newsfeed or OKR timeline and see that somebody made progress on their goals. With spreadsheets, it is harder to update your goals and the changes are not as easily seen as in an automated tool. Again, leading people not engaging with their goals the way they should.
4. Visual dashboard where you can see how your goals are progressing and whether you are on track or not
In addition, to easily updating your goals, you will have your personal dashboard where you can see if your objectives are on track, off track, at risk or you have exceeded your expectations. The same view is available for the company level, where you can see how you have progressed as an entire company. Also, see the team and personal progress. The view is illustrated with graphs, so the information could be instantly attainable and everybody would be accountable.
On the basis of everybody's progress you are able to make better decisions and adjustments how to move forward. Maybe somebody needs help with their Objective and Key Results, maybe some of the people need a 1:1 conversation etc. Unfortunately with spreadsheets this high level visibility doesn't exist and you are left with sorting through individual goals and KPI's to see if they are on track.
5. You can comment and provide feedback on an individual goal and key result
As mentioned in the previous point, it is great to have an overview how people are progressing with their goals and provide feedback. In an automated goal-setting tool, you can comment on a single objective and an individual key result. You are able to provide feedback and offer advice to your team members.
6. You have goal-setting experts helping you out
Moving from spreadsheets to automated goal-setting tool
Objectives and Key Results are meant to align and engage people, but if this process is not made comfortable enough, there is a big chance that you won't be able to reap the full benefits of your goal-setting framework. For a successful implementation you need to create a habit of using goal-setting regularly.Therefore, I urge you to evaluate your current situation with setting and tracking goals, whether you are starting off or are already using them in spreadsheets, and see if people would actually use it.
As I said, spreadsheets are great for getting started and kind of practising goal-setting and tracking on your own. In case you are looking to do that, we have a free OKR Google spreadsheet and Google docs template for you.
In case, you are serious about implementing goal-setting and tracking with your team, I would recommend to use a tool that takes away the pain of clunky spreadsheets and implement an automated software, so you could start making real progress towards your team or company goals. Test it out for free here.
In case, you want to learn more about OKR goal-setting framework, below are some good materials to get started.
- Guide: What are OKRs and How to Get Started? [Infographic]
- Free OKR ebook
- Employee Guide to Getting Started with OKRs
- OKR examples by job positions
- OKR templates and examples
- Weekdone Academy resources page with OKR examples and OKR templates
- How Google sets goals with OKR's
- Top 10 Questions Managers Have About OKR Goal Setting (Examples and Templates)
- OKR FAQ – Everything you've ever wanted to know about Objectives and Key Results