Have you ever been to an orchestra concert? This is how it goes: the maestro hits the baton, the woodwind flutes start the melody, followed by the tuba, then the percussion, and finally the strings bring the whole concert to life. All in perfect harmony. It’s quite the experience, I must say. But behind that one or two-hours of pure enjoyment for your ears, there are weeks, months, and years of intense practice, collaboration, and alignment.
At OutSystems, we had the dream of working exactly like that. Not that we didn’t do it before—I mean, we’re market leaders for a reason. But, as the company continued to grow, rapidly adding business dimensions, customers, partners, office space, and even offices worldwide with different languages and cultures, we felt that we needed an upgrade. With all this diversity, it was time to change the way we operate to a global, distributed but unified OutSystems team. It was the perfect time to design a new performance model so we could clear any hurdles and outperform ourselves.
There. We already had the name. All that was left was the methodology.
What is OutPerform?
OutPerform is a program that guides every OutSystems employee in the right direction to ensure our customers and company’s success. At least, that’s the elevator pitch. At a deeper level, it’s a little more complex than that. Stay with me.
You can look at this new performance management model as a quarterly journey supported by three pillars: goals and alignment, feedback, and recognition. Let me put it into a different perspective: imagine that your family is growing and you need to move out from that lovely one-bedroom apartment where you’ve lived your last years to a better and bigger house.
Goals and Alignment
The first step in any house hunt is defining what kind of house you need. You want four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a view of the beach. The OutPerform journey began exactly the same way, by defining what we, as a company, need. In other words, the objectives for the quarter. For this pillar, we adopted the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) methodology.
Every quarter the senior management team gets together and defines the objectives for the upcoming three months. Then the teams gather to define goals that are aligned with the company’s direction. These are cross-functional goals where people from different departments collaborate towards the same outcome. And what's distinctive about this new way of setting and aligning goals is that we focus on the outcomes and departments work together to make them happen.
Another exciting aspect of this new model is that all OKRs are available for consultation in an online platform and anyone in the company can search and understand the “why” and the “what” of any project that any collaborator or any team is working on.
This level of transparency is very important. We need to make sure that we’re all unified and that we break traditional cross-departmental silos. In addition, by having access to my colleagues' objectives, it also enables collaboration, as it becomes easier for people to understand what others are doing and to generate productive conversations and plans around projects.
After visiting a few houses based on your criteria, you might realize that maybe you don’t need a view of the beach and that maybe two bedrooms are more than enough. That’s kind of what our second pillar is, too. It’s about reflecting on what we can change or improve to accelerate our defined outcomes.
During an entire quarter, managers are encouraged to have weekly one-on-ones with their team members to acknowledge what has been done right and what could be done to improve in order to accelerate success. Communication is critical for assuring every collaborator is on the right path, or if there’s space for improvement.
After a long search, you finally find your dream house. Now it’s time to celebrate and open the champaign. That’s the recognition pillar.
At the end of each quarter, and after those recurring one-on-ones, manager and team members celebrate the great accomplishments of the quarter and prepare for a brand new one. Let’s be honest: even if you love your job, there are always days you’d prefer to stay in bed. Especially in those wintry, rainy days. So, if you can add some fun and celebration to it, everything gets more exciting.
Now, these three pillars are all connected; one wouldn’t work without the other two. Establishing objectives at the beginning of every quarter ensures the cross-departmental alignment, transparency, and collaboration we need to support our customers’ success. On the other hand, open communication with a manager based on frequent feedback and moments of celebration are the glue that holds everything together and makes sure those goals are fulfilled.
More than a Marketing Speech
In a competitive and complex market like the low-code one, OutPerform helps us to be agile and faster. Every quarter we redefine our goals as a company supported by every team no matter the department or seniority level.
This is a brand new program, so there are still some rough edges that need to be polished. But now everyone in the company knows what success looks like every quarter. They have the freedom and support to make their own decisions, make mistakes, and learn from them. We’re only human after all. That propels an environment of creativity and innovation that make us a leader in the low-code market, delivering speed and value to our customers every day.
That’s how we’re all playing in perfect harmony: engineering, customer success, digital, sales, marketing, people, and finance. And that’s incredibly powerful.
We’re hiring! Check out our available positions worldwide.