Employee achievement with OKRs fuel Return Path’s success.

When Return Path was a smaller company, it could easily coordinate goals and priorities among its few employees — it was only a matter of getting everyone in the same room. But with the company’s global growth and continued success, it faces new challenges as cross-functional coordination becomes more complex. Return Path turned to Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) as a way to help its 500 employees track progress, provide feedback, and accomplish goals across teams.

Going beyond streamlining the goal-setting process, OKRs helped unify the company around Return Path’s strategic objectives. Mike Mills, the VP of program management, says the new system keeps larger departments and teams across the organization focused on the company’s overall outcomes.

“Return Path runs on collaboration and relies on the success of teams working together,” said Mills. “With OKRs, we were able to coordinate across geographically-distributed and complex teams and align them on reaching the same goals.”

Employee Success First

As a people-first organization, Return Path fosters a supportive environment that emphasizes teamwork, collaboration, and transparency. With multiple teams working together across departments and time zones, the company planned to reach its strategic objectives by focusing on individual employee success. 7Geese helped Return Path cascade its overall objectives into smaller OKRs within teams creating a solution that established visibility and communication around completing organizational goals. At the team level, individual achievement is easily recognized. Celebrating these accomplishments strengthens teams and builds community around achieving together.

“With OKRs, our employees can clearly see how the work they’re doing affects the entire company – it’s empowering” said Mike. “Individuals and teams are driven to succeed because they are able to see how their quarterly goals fueled the company’s overall achievement. “

Learning from peers

Learning and development embodies a major aspect of the Return Path’s growth, so for them implementing 7Geese wasn’t just about tracking objectives; it also about establishing a system of providing feedback and recognition. By analyzing the OKRs, teams and individuals are able to determine what works and what needs improvement, creating a culture of peer-managed accountability when it comes to goal-tracking and employee development.

Return Path employees are encouraged to use peer-managed feedback to deliver on their own career objectives. OKRs give employees a better understanding of how their efforts impact their teammates’ success. Each quarter, teams provide feedback and talk about areas of strength and development. Openly, teams discuss ‘How did we do,’What challenges did we face,’ and ‘How did each individual contribute?’ By reviewing OKR outcomes in these sessions, Return Path further enables its employees to peer-manage individual efforts and support business goals. By using 7Geese to document these discussions, employees are able to reference them and incorporate the feedback and plans they established into their goal setting conversations.

Flexible and Organic Adoption

When implementing OKRs and 7Geese, Return Path introduced goal-tracking at a departmental leader level. They used it to track overall high-level performance based on cross-functional priorities for the quarter. After seeing their leaders’ success with the program, many teams organically adopted the system. In some cases, it co-exists with existing project management and goal tracking tools. This flexibility has allowed adoption to occur naturally over-time without a hard disruption in the company’s day-to-day processes.