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OKR Best Practices – Seven Steps To Guide Your Team

Before your team start drafting your company OKR, read these seven OKR best practices to avoid the most common mistakes in setting up your company goals.

OKR best practices

One of the most important skills that a modern leader can possess is the ability to align their entire workforce to the big vision of the company, that’s why talking about OKR best practices is very important!

Remember that aligning your entire organisation is just a small skill set that you must possess in order to ADAPT your company to the digital era! If you are an executive leader looking to ADAPT your company to the digital era, check more about our approach by clicking the link: ADAPT Methodology™.

 

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a good framework for keeping your team aligned with the long term vision and mission of your company. As any good framework, there are some good tips to use, in this article we will talk about OKR best practices.

OKR Best Practices

The system was developed by Andy Grove of Intel and has been adopted by big and small companies. You have to understand the nature of OKR before writing anything. It has two essential characteristics. These are:

The Structure

Two major questions that have to be answered when creating OKRs for your company are given below:

  1. Where do we want to take our company (goals)?
  2. How will we get there (measurable steps)?

Your entire team must consider these questions to be very important when following the OKR best practices for your company. It’s essential for key leadership teams down to team members. Answering these two questions fosters a cascading interplay of objectives that keep the entire company aligned and aware of what direction the company is taking.

The Philosophy

There are a few characteristics that set OKRs apart from other goal-setting strategies. One of such characteristics is that it consists of ambitious goals. Achieving all the goals set by your team or employees means that they are playing it safe by setting easily attainable goals. While goals are ambitious, OKRs are achievable.

 

Another feature is that the goals should be measurable. The goals should be tied to tangible milestones will be used to track progress. A third feature is that OKRs are geared towards transparency. Each person’s OKR is visible to other members of the organisation. Lastly, the framework is designed to improve performance and not merely to evaluate the employee.

The Benefits of OKRs to Your Team

  • It keeps your company aligned with the company’s objectives.
  • OKRs helps you concentrate on what’s really important with a focus on measurable key actions.
  • It promotes transparency by allowing employees to know and understand the roles of everybody else and their impact on the company. This also ensures accountability and responsibility.
  • It measures how everybody (from departments to teams and individuals) is doing in terms of achieving their goals.
  • OKR challenges your employees to surpass their limits and set ambitious goals. This leads to groundbreaking achievements.

OKRs as Practised Today

Companies that use of OKRs have created a solid system of cascading OKRs from the top level to the bottom level. Each result cascades to the next level as an objective for that team or individual.

 

In some organisations, OKRs are cascaded in a directional approach. Thus, the management allows individual teams to contribute by asking them to state their aspirational and personal development goals.

Best Practices in Writing OKRs

Below are the OKR best practices many companies follow:

For Objectives:

  • Each team, department or individual should have 3-5 objectives.
  • The objectives should be achieved in a certain time-frame (e.g. after one year or one quarter). It’s not an ongoing task.
  • Objectives must be ambitious. In Google, a 70% success rate is considered a remarkable performance.

For Key Results:

  • There are 3 key results per objective.
  • Key results must be measurable.
  • They are the steps needed to achieve an objective. Thus, attaining them is tantamount to achieving your objectives.
  • They are not activities, but outcomes.

OKRs: Getting Started

The process explained below will help you and your team adapt to OKRs in about six weeks before the start of another year or quarter.

 

First Step: Identify Team Objectives and Key Results

Identify three to five primary objectives of your team in the coming year or quarter. It should be in line with the vision and mission of the company. Identification of the key results come after this. The steps to achieve these goals should also be stated.

 

Second Step: Decide on How Your Team will Organise OKRs

Monitoring OKRs can be challenging, but there are tools and methods that your company can make use of to do this. You can make use of spreadsheets.

 

Your team has to identify a systematic process to roll out the OKRs to your team members, otherwise, it can get disorganised.

 

Third Step: Working with Team Leads in Drafting Objectives

You need to gather all departmental heads and cascade the significance of OKRs. The benefits of OKRs to each department and the company as a whole should be stated.

 

Organise a meeting with the heads/executives involved so you can create a process of rolling out OKRs together.

 

Fourth Step: Cascading OKRs to Team Members

The next step would be to organise the team leads/managers who will cascade the new process to their respective teams. They have to ensure that the OKRs are understood by the team members.

 

Fifth Step: Writing of Individual OKRs

Following the meeting of the leads/managers, the team members should be directed to write their individual OKRs. Managers and team members should collaborate at this stage.

 

At the initial check-in, the team member should make a comparison between individual objectives and what the manager expects. The individual’s objectives have to be in line with those of the company.

 

At the end of the check-in, the immediate superior and team member should reach a compromise. The immediate superiors should allow their team members to make their own decisions and goals, but at the same time, ensure that these are in line with the values and goals of the company.

 

Sixth Step: Calibration

At the end of the first cycle of OKRs, it is crucial for your company to evaluate how the individual OKRs may have affected any of the team or high-level company OKRs. This evaluation will precede a company-wide meeting where team heads will discuss the direction of the company for the next quarter or year.

 

Seventh Step: Monitoring Individual OKRs

Managers must check on the progress of the employees and see to it that the key results are being achieved. OKRs are also a great way to measure the performances of team members and promote accountability.

 

With the above steps and best practices stated, the adoption of OKRs by your company will be an easy process. If you need guidance on how to implement this, feel free to reach out to us.

 

If you liked this article and you are looking for a way to align everyone in your organisation, we offer OKR consulting and OKR training inside of our ADAPT Methodology™ approach, contact us in case you are interested.

 

Luis Gonçalves

About Luis Gonçalves

https://www.linkedin.com/in/luismsg/

Luis Gonçalves is an Entrepreneur, Best Seller Author & International Keynote Speaker that works exclusively with Senior Executives of 7 to 8 figure businesses on the deployment of his game-changing ‘The ADAPT Methodology™’.

Comments

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  1. Nice introduction and summary.

    I disagree with the sentence “. Lastly, the framework is designed to improve performance and not MERELY to evaluate the employee.” OKRs should not be used for Management By Objective (MBO). MBO will drive people to select goals that can easily be achieved.

    See also https://youtu.be/mJB83EZtAjc

  2. My comment was regarding the EVALUATION of the EMPLOYEE on the OKR. I know you write later in the article that “Objectives must be ambitious. In Google, a 70% success rate is considered a remarkable performance.”

    My concern, based on personal experience, is that if the employee knows their performance is evaluated on the OKR it will drive less ambitious goals.

  3. Hi Jonathon and Luis,
    Setting your goals increases motivation and team commitment. Teamwork always increases the motivation, emphasizing ambition and determination, which makes success inevitable. As the goals are achieved competition increases, which triggers people to be more successful. And Thanks you, usefull content! If your target is big bold. It can be daunting in the early days, and the best way to counter this is to break down your big goal into a series of small goals. This method will be a good support for your motivation!
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