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OKRs Q&A Podcast Ep.2 – Interview with Vito Butta

In this episode of the OKRs Q&A Podcast, Tim Meinhardt interviews Vito Butta about implementing OKRs from the Human Resources perspective. Vito is the Vice President of Human Resources for Diversant, an IT Staffing firm based in New Jersey. Tim and Vito have worked hand in hand on a daily basis for the past 8+ months to successfully implement OKRs within Diversant.

Tim Meinhardt:

Welcome to another exciting episode of the OKRs Q&A podcast, also known as the OKR Corral where OKRs rule. I am your host, Tim Meinhardt, CEO of Atruity and OKR Consultancy, headquartered in our nation’s capital.

Tim Meinhardt:

Today I am thrilled to interview Vito Butta. Vito is a senior level human resources executive with over two decades of experience as an HR leader. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Vito over the last eight months, and we’re going to have a blast with this interview today. Everyone, please welcome Vito Butta.

Tim Meinhardt:

Well, Vito. Thanks for joining us today.

Vito Butta:

No problem.

Tim Meinhardt:

And for the audience from an introduction perspective, take a minute or so, and tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do and who do you work for?

Vito Butta:

Sure. I am the Vice President of human resources for Diversant. Diversant IT Staffing, been with them for four years now and been in human resources for, I would say, 22 years.

Tim Meinhardt:

Fantastic. Tell us a little bit about your initial impressions of Objectives and Key Results, Vito?

Vito Butta:

When I first was tasked with finding a goal setting type of program for the organization, I went back in my past and looked at the different things I’ve used before and knowing that we’re a medium sized company that’s growing, and a lot of the management staff have never been through this before, looking for something that’s a little bit more, for lack of a better term, simplistic. It’s easy to use.

Vito Butta:

A lot of the other initiatives that I’ve used in the past were a lot more intense. Black and white. There’s no leeway with it so when I came across Objectives and Key Results, watching the videos and reading the books, I found out this is an ideal match for our organization, especially at this stage. And it’s something that can grow with us as we continue to grow.

Tim Meinhardt:

Terrific. Walk me through a little bit, what you thought or believe, or actually experienced, the biggest challenges in actually getting started with Objectives and Key Results?

Vito Butta:

Well, with any initiative, it’s the buy-in. A lot of times when initiatives are brought down, either by myself or senior leaders, it’s okay. What’s the soup of the day? It doesn’t last. All this will last for a quarter or two quarters and we’ll get onto something else.

Vito Butta:

And when you do that, especially if you do it frequently, you lose, you don’t have an audience. They don’t buy it.

Tim Meinhardt:

Correct.

Vito Butta:

The buy-in is always the big piece. That’s the hurdle. Thankfully, having yourself on board to help us drive this, and having senior leadership driving it as well, it helped us to get the buy-in of our Vice Presidents and then on down to our Directors and Manager staff as well.

Tim Meinhardt:

Yeah. Absolutely and I think buy-in is a huge issue. When you do get started, you never get that second chance to make a good first impression.

Vito Butta:

Yeah. Everybody, in every organization (staffing is no different), your managers are busy and when you’re giving them an additional task of OKRs, it’s secondary to, hey, let me make money and let me do my job.

Tim Meinhardt:

Sure.

Vito Butta:

The good thing about OKRs is that it doesn’t seem like a task. It’s truly – they’re measuring what matters and it’s a tie into their business.

Tim Meinhardt:

For sure. And I mean, everybody experiences this. It begins to work on a part of the brain that you haven’t used in quite a while and you start thinking about things.

Vito Butta:

Well, especially in my role in human resources, we are big firemen. We put out fires. What you do on a daily basis is constantly putting out fires. And with something like OKRs, I work with my staff on it – they utilize it as well, but we set the goals together as a team, we set the Objectives and the Key Results as a  team. We talk about them before you and I speak and set everything, I’m speaking with them and going over what should we be looking at?

Tim Meinhardt:

Sure.

Vito Butta:

And, that’s how they’re set for us and no matter how many fire drills we get, because we still get them, we still have the OKRs there in the background, or even in the forefront, driving the business as we go forward and contributing to the corporate Objectives.

Tim Meinhardt:

Sure. So walk, talk to me about your biggest success so far with the OKR program, in your opinion?

Vito Butta:

Well, I am very pleased with how these managers have embraced it.

Tim Meinhardt:

Yeah, I am too. By the way, I think everyone is really, really taking the ball and running with it.

Vito Butta:

I won’t say what team, but there was a particular team that I had a concern with actually completing their four square and doing the work that goes along with the OKRs. I thought there was going to be constant need for reminders, and they’ve embraced it. There was no need. Maybe once or twice I had to say, “Hey, make sure you guys fill this out.” Or, “Do it this way.”

Vito Butta:

But they’ve embraced it and to me, that’s a huge accomplishment. To go from, we had the corporate Objectives and Key Results, five or seven managers doing it and now we’re over 40, within the span of two quarters, three quarters. To me – that is a huge accomplishment.

Tim Meinhardt:

Yeah, no, it was a nice lift for your organization and I remember going back, even when we redid your mission statement, we presented it to all the 13 different managers and they still want, they wanted to have input, “Hey, we want to change a word here or a phrase there.”

Tim Meinhardt:

And that was a great indicator to me that, hey, this team at Diversant really is and wants to do something like this. I’ve been very pleased and full disclosure to the audience, Vito and I work very closely with helping Diversant develop their managers OKRs.

Tim Meinhardt:

And it’s a pretty fast month, of sorts, when we do all 40 of these and get teed up for the next quarter. Vito and I do have a lot of fun doing it. So what advice would you give to any organization that really is considering some type of performance management tool? And maybe what do you think about OKRs?

Vito Butta:

I think that the first step is to really take your time with it. You can’t just force it down and say, “This is what we’re doing.” Take your time with it and get the feedback and the buy-in. Hear what the end users are that are going to deal with it.

Vito Butta:

More often than not the senior leaders, myself, we’re too separated from the day to day. We haven’t done that aspect of the job in a while. We have our own day to day, which is completely different. So get their feedback from them, find out how’s this going to work with them and then take it step by step, such as we did with Diversant. We did the senior leaders first and then we went down a level. I think that that was a big thing and don’t overextend yourself with the number of Key Results that you’re doing. It is measure what matters. If you’re measuring everything, you’re not going to get anywhere.

Tim Meinhardt:

As you and I have said, you’re really managing nothing at that point. All right. Vito, last question. What was the one burning question you had about OKRs when we initially got started? And what was the answer that you found?

Vito Butta:

My, the question is that, and it seems like to any one of these systems is, how are the corporate services divisions or the administrative type of divisions, how are they going to contribute to this? Especially in a sales driven type of environment.

Tim Meinhardt:

Yeah. Sure.

Vito Butta:

That’s, yeah. And I think me personally, going through this numerous times in different types of programs, that’s always been a difficult piece. OKRs, again, you’re measuring what matters. There is a way to, while maybe it’s not feeding directly into the corporate goal, it’s not attributing to the number, directly to the number of hires that we’re doing or starts that we’re doing or business that we’re pulling in.

Vito Butta:

But it’s there. There’s a dotted line to it. I could see that through OKRs because you peel back those onions in the Key Results trickle down to the next level and that to me is worth every second that we put into this program because that’s a big part of the business.

Tim Meinhardt:

It is.

Vito Butta:

Yes, you have your sales and recruiting and staffing, but without the corporate services divisions lined up with the same goals, or goals that feed into those, you’re not going to be successful.

Tim Meinhardt:

The administrative group is this enablement team of sorts and how are they doing things efficiently in order to maximize what I would say is a customer experience, a managerial experience and even an employee experience?

Vito Butta:

Because I figure in, in my world, we have our employees that we’re working with and we’re trying to address their needs, but also when we’re going out to clients and try to procure business or retain business, a lot of what we do on the corporate services side helps to do that.

Tim Meinhardt:

Absolutely.

Vito Butta:

Being lined up with those goals is very important.

Tim Meinhardt:

With that, I’m going to say thank you so much. I know our audience will love our discussion and I truly appreciate all that you’ve done for me. I hope you have a wonderful day Vito.

Vito Butta:

Thanks. Same to you Tim, appreciate it.

Tim Meinhardt:

See you. Bye. Bye.

Vito Butta:

Bye now.

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