Several weeks ago, I attended a 4-day workshop in Singapore about facilitating powerful conversation. This short excursion is part of the personal development program in Product Narrative. 2 that of us went to.

The workshop covered a lot of materials about somatic (body), language, and emotion.

However, one thing that struck me the most was how the workshop was set up and conducted. It was apparent that a lot of effort, if not all, was done to create an environment or situation that supports real learning. Hence, for example, during a discussion of sadness or pity, the environment was able to evoke that emotion for many of the participants.

This experiential learning environment made the participants learn and understand the material in the real context.

This is not an attempt to summarise the content or experience of that multi-day workshop into a short article. I’d be sceptical of the quality of any of such effort, really.

But, I’d like to call out a similarity between the setup that was created in the workshop and the learning environment created from adopting OKR (Objectives and Key Results)

As it is challenging to learn about emotions just by reading, it is analogously hard and incomplete to learn to become a better manager by merely reading or attending workshops.

Both require experiential learning. Real circumstances must support learning.

Also Read: How to help managers improve performance appraisals?

We’ll explore how implementing OKR in your organisation essentially creates a real environment to train your managers to become better leaders.

“Managers matter a lot and can have a significant impact on employee performance “— Google re Work

Also, how does it eventually encourage behaviours that support more efficient meetings? We’ll look into the former topic in this article and continue with the latter in the next post.

When learning does not support the real environment

Have you read a typical how-to-become-a-good-manager article?

Such an article usually lists down a few pieces of advice such as “learn to delegate” or “do not micromanage.” Or, perhaps, had you enrolled in a training program that covers a long list of skills for managers?

A quick Google search will give us many to choose from, e.g. essential skills for managersnew manager boot camp, or how to supervise and manage your team effectively.

If you answered yes to any of the questions, you understand that they provide valuable knowledge.

To take it further, you might also agree that many of those materials were created based on good intention: to help managers to get better.

But, why is it challenging to follow through and practice the knowledge in the real world, e.g. in your office?

Wendy Palmer, in her book “Embodied Leadership” shares a useful hint:

“When I read books on personal development, I am in a safe place, usually my bed or favourite chair, and all of the recommendations make sense to me. However, when I experience a stressful situation outside of my comfortable environment, all those good ideas about how to work with stress go out the window”.

It is about the learning environment.

Also Read: 4 reasons why startups should recruit more women than ever

OKR facilitates a real learning environment and frequent practice

When you implement OKR in your organisation, you mainly facilitate the creation of a learning environment to practice the essential skills to become a good manager.

Let’s take two things that always come up in any to-become-a-great-manager material:

1.Delegating work

2.Communicating with your team, as in giving feedback

And, let’s see how OKR provides a framework that naturally positions you to delegate and communicate frequently:

The timeframe referred in the above table (e.g. “… each person’s weekly OKR …”) assumes that we’re doing a weekly OKR. Bi-weekly is another typical timeframe for OKR cadence.

The Setup and Review sessions, which shape the cadence, allow you to learn and practice frequently in the real working environment.

Closing thoughts

Becoming a good manager will not happen soon after graduating from a management training course, nor by reading a hundred articles that list down the how-to.

It requires real learning context to practice the skills, such as delegation and communication, and a healthy dose of repetition.

Another quote from the same book by Palmer:

“If reading a book were all we had to do to achieve our full potential, then we would all be there. Part of the problem with just reading and understanding the information is that we do not have the embodied experience of the theory”.

Also Read: 7 effective ways to motivate employees

OKR facilitates that embodied experience of the (how-to-become-a-good-manager) theory.

Editor’s note: e27 publishes relevant guest contributions from the community. Share your honest opinions and expert knowledge by submitting your content here.

Join our e27 Telegram group here, or our e27 contributor Facebook page here.