Our Company Culture: Defining OKRs To Measure Success

How does your team define your company goals? At Central States Water Resources, we believe in aligning what every employee does to produce and promote progress in our company.

If every team member believes in the mission and vision — easier said than done — it makes them easier to achieve. Organizational success is not reached with just one person carrying the load, but rather, it takes a village and our team at CSWR understands this.

Three things are imperative in our company culture:

Every person has a voice

We want each team member to express their beliefs because everyone’s opinion is valued. If someone thinks we can do something better, we listen. If someone thinks our goals are too big or too small, we listen. Does that mean we act on every suggestion? No, but progress comes from consideration of ideas, not silence and innovation occurs through an openness to feedback and because everyone at CSWR truly understands how their day-to-day work fits into our
mission.

We look at progress with a tough but kind eye. Every quarter we come together as a company — from the company president to the summer intern — to see where we excelled in our goals, where we failed and why our results look the way they do. Continuous growth means continuous innovation, which is good for both our employees and our customers.

Defining clear and concise (Objectives and Key Results) OKRs

When we gather each quarter, our team meets outside the office in a more casual environment (like last year, we met at a biergarten). We break into cross-functional, smaller groups sessions to examine the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) we set as a company. Each group has a leader who prepares a list for the team to talk through each OKR to see if it was met the previous year.

The decision is a simple yes or no. Did we do it or not? CSWR may be a utility company, but we
believe the entrepreneurial mantra of “fail fast.” We want to take an honest look at our successes and shortcomings to truly understand how we can be better.

Recognizing opportunity

After wrapping up each OKR quarterly meeting, we distribute surveys to every person in the company. These surveys include questions about goals (pass or fail) and questions about core principles (to make sure everyone knows them). At the end, if it is determined that a goal was not met, we will keep it for next year but also take some time to understand what happened. If some goals were met, then we define bigger (but reasonably obtainable) goals to add to the list. No one is upset that a goal wasn’t met, this is simply recognized as an opportunity to grow/improve some measures, to achieve it the next go round. Change is inevitable, we are not afraid to revise, improve, and repeat.

As a growing company with a big vision to bring clean, safe and reliable water to every
community we serve, having employees who genuinely care about their role in making this
happen for our customers makes all the difference.

Inclusiveness and a self-governing culture — it’s at the very foundation of CSWR’s success and
culture, ensuring our employees enjoy working with us, not for us.