Learning is one of Eric Grant’s core values. By his own admission, he spends his time in, around, and consumed by learning. But Grant’s not just gathering knowledge to hoard it for himself. Throughout his career, he’s shared his knowledge to help others succeed.
Grant serves as a senior customer success manager for enterprise clients at LinkedIn Learning. “Learning’s a catalog of thousands of learning videos, everything on business, diversity, and inclusion, different technologies, even a creative library for things like photography.” He works with large clients to roll Learning out to their audiences. “My job entails engaging people with the right learning content strategically, using this to deliver the right education to people who are interested in growing their careers, and their skill sets.”
Before he came to LinkedIn, Grant was a senior learning and development manager at Uber - and a few years before that, he also taught English as a Second Language in Seoul, Korea. He’s incorporated OKRs at every juncture, experiencing professional and personal success.
Using OKRs at Uber
Grant started working at Uber in 2015, first as a learning manager responsible for training and professional development of teams, before progressing to the position of senior learning and development manager. Uber utilized LinkedIn Learning as a part of its learning strategy. “At that time, it was a small company, but certainly experiencing very fast growth,” he says. Many of Uber’s OKRs were related to growth: growing their team, growing their reach, growing their metrics. One of the teams he worked on was growing so quickly, it appeared to be doubling every month, or at least, every quarter – and going global. “A lot of my early OKRs were about keeping up with that, a lot about going global, and some of my goals were to be able to create things that could be used at scale because people that were joining the organization needed those kinds of resources.”
Uber’s performance reviews also included T3 (top 3 skills) and B3 (bottom 3 skills). “So, there was sort of a funnel from previous performance reviews into what could be objectives for the next quarter,” he says. Generally, in half a year, employees used their B3s as the basis for an objective to improve those skills.
One of the earliest metrics he developed was something really simple: the number of career conversations. “I want to have three conversations about my career or get advice from people in three different positions.”
Grant also finds OKRs to be advantageous in expanding his career and helping others progress as well. As one of the first employees in his role at Uber, Grant was carving out role definitions, and internal processes. He managed a team of five and always had a key result for each of those relationships. OKRs helped with job transitions too. When Grant left Uber, he gave some of his OKRs to other employees who joined the company after him.
Using OKRs at LinkedIn
Since joining LinkedIn, he’s had an opportunity to use the tool on both the customer side and the customer success side. “Customer success includes how my customers do with our tool, with their contracts, with the value they’re looking for.” It’s Grant’s first time in a customer-facing role, and he admits it can be a bit more difficult.
One major change is that he doesn’t have as much control over his OKRs as he did at Uber. “It’s theirs, their processes, their priorities, certainly their timelines, which makes it more challenging, but also more fun when they succeed.” Grant has also helped to drive value. “They’re trying to see a certain dollar value or return on investment for LinkedIn.”
LinkedIn Learning also has a built-in mechanism to help track goals of weekly learning times. “I always try to search for a way that shows off the skill progression and what I’m learning, but it can be hard to prove that you have a skill, especially if there’s no assessment or if it’s something that’s beyond your job.” However, he’s come up with creative ways to add these extras. For example, Grant worked outside of his role to help with a presentation for stakeholders at LinkedIn about some of the company’s largest accounts. But one of his challenges was on the data analytics side. “So, I decided that as a key result, I wanted to use two types of new charts that I’d never used before in the presentation.”
He forced himself to think more deeply about the data he had access to and his storytelling process, but in ways he hadn’t done before and then expanded on that. “So, I found a good way to use a scatter plot, explain how it worked, and I thought that was one creative solution to having a personal career OKR and key result.”
Using OKRs on a Personal Level
One lesson that Grant says he’s learned: OKRs don’t have to be written in stone. “I think good goal-setting that gives you the freedom to adjust your goals, certainly after something as large and world-changing as COVID-19, is important.”
He believes that some people get a little too locked in when they set OKRs and believes it’s okay not to hit 100 percent. His sweet spot is actually 70 to 75 percent, and he says the goals he misses are partially done or missed for a reason - and end up on his new OKR. “If you’re getting 100 percent, then you probably set them a little too low.”
And he’s learned another lesson. “I really like being able to check-in at the end of every six months or every year, to look backward, but also to see what I was thinking about and what I was prioritizing when I set those goals,” Grant says. “I saved all of mine, dating back to 2015, so this is a really nice trail of breadcrumbs of my career and its development.”