What are Key Result Areas and why do they help create accountability for creative teams?

Everyone on team OTM is constantly looking for ways to improve how we do things, from how we collaborate on big projects to how we communicate results to our clients, no one is excluded from the conversation about being 1% better every day. 

However, with so many people contributing to and collaborating on projects, how does anyone know who is accountable for the outcomes of those projects? 

In many companies, creative or not, accountability has become a bad word. It’s thrown around when things go wrong and it’s typically a finger-pointing game that can be detrimental to culture and team communication. No one wants to be blamed when things go wrong, but what about the benefits of accountability? 

The leadership team at OTM believes that accountability can be a positive thing – when communicated clearly and celebrated often. As stated in the book, The OZ Principle: Getting Results Through Individual & Organizational Accountability, accountability is “a personal choice to rise above one’s circumstances and demonstrate the ownership necessary for achieving desired results—to See It, Own It, Solve It, and Do It.” 

So how do you set expectations when it comes to accountability for individual team members? 

Introducing KRAs (Key Result Areas) 

What is a KRA?

KRAs are Key Result Areas (sometimes called competencies) that are used to define the outcomes that an individual team member is responsible for, providing clarity through a well-defined, measurable outcome that aligns what they do in their role with what the organization needs in order to be successful.

KRA Quick Tips: 

  • KRAs should be created for the role and not the individual
  • A well defined KRA should show a team member how they can “win” in their role 
  • A strong KRA should set clear expectations and a framework for feedback 

How to Create a KRA 

Creating a KRA can be tricky. KRAs should be broad, but clear – if they are too vague, they will cause confusion and ultimately allow for more ways to avoid accountability, but they should also not be so specific that you begin micromanaging how the team member does their job.

5 Steps to Creating a Clear KRA: 

  1. Observe all of the tasks that the role is completing or should complete
  2. Identify primary tasks that have the highest probability of return for the organization and then group these tasks into categories
  3. Take these groupings of tasks and assign outcomes to them (you may end up with 3-5 key outcomes for the role)
  4. Assign key metrics or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to the outcome, answer the question “what are the results that will happen when I achieve this outcome?”
  5. Evaluate the KRA outcomes by asking yourself the following questions: Do they make sense? Do they set clear expectations? Do they provide a clear feedback loop?

Auditing KRAs and Roles 

When you work in an industry that is constantly changing like ours, it’s important to re-evaluate your team’s KRAs regularly. Depending on how often the needs of your organization change, we recommend auditing KRAs and roles bi-annually by having a conversation with your team member that is separate from the review cycle where you can work together to adjust the KRA based on any new outcomes that are needed from the role for the success of the business. 

Performance Reviews and KRAs

KRAs, if done correctly, should make your performance reviews easier because you have an agreed upon set of outcomes that you can measure against. 

How we perform Performance Reviews at OTM: 

  • First, we have our employees rate themselves on a scale of one to four (so that there are no neutral answers) for each of their KRA outcomes, our agency core values, their individual growth plans and how they are contributing to the agency’s strategic goals.
  • Then, we schedule a 15-minute meeting to discuss any discrepancies between our evaluation and their self-evaluation. Because the review is simply a review of the past quarter it should not take more than 15 minutes. 
  • If a conversation needs more than 15 minutes, it is no longer part of the review and should be part of a performance coaching conversation. 

Communicating KRAs Companywide 

How does the team know what others are responsible for? We suggest having an accountability chart for your company that outlines who is responsible for what so there is no confusion. 

At OTM, we follow EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, and we use the Ninety EOS® Software to integrate our vision to our team’s roles, placing the KRA outcomes into each of the accountability chart boxes so everyone can clearly see who is responsible for what. 

“A culture of accountability makes a good organization great and a great organization unstoppable.” – Henry Evans

Do you have questions about how to improve your organization’s People, Product or Profit? Reach out to OTM to see if we’d be a good fit to help you solve your organization’s problems.