Why Should Your Team Adopt the OKR Methodology?

Find everything you need to know about OKRs in this blog. 1. What are OKRs 2. Why should you adopt OKRs 3. How to adopt OKRs 4. OKR examples 5. Mistakes to avoid while setting OKRs

In an organization where there are multiple teams and divisions working on different objectives and goals, it is important to keep track of what is being done and how many Key Results are being achieved.

Andy Grove came up with the idea of OKRs, but John Doerr, who was one of Google's first investors, popularized it. He introduced Google to OKRs in 1999 and came up with a formula as well:

I will (Objective) as measured by (this set of Key Results)

With the growth of Google, the popularity of OKRs grew and today, several corporates use OKRs for managing their objectives and goals.

First, let us look at what OKRs really are.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results, and it's a goal setting tool for teams and individuals, that helps them set ambitious goals with measurable outcomes. OKRs help teams to keep track of their progress, align team and organizational goals, and encourage participation in achieving the set measurable goals.

Objectives: Something that you want to achieve, individually or as a team.
Key results: They are metrics that are used to measure your objectives

What’s great about OKRs is that they can be customized and tweaked to suit any organization, and they have few common features:

1. Accessible to all

OKRs are visible to the entire organization, visible to all employees, in order to align the goals of the organization.

2. Agile goals

The goals are set for short periods of time, enabling the organization to change and adapt easily.

3. Time-focused

Different OKRs can have a different pace. An organization can have one for long term, quarterly and even weekly OKRs.

The rationale behind OKRs is that if all OKRs are achieved, then the organization is setting easy goals for itself. 


too easy nbd GIF


Therefore, the organization should set challenging goals and such goals are called moonshots or stretch goals.

Why use OKRs?

The benefits of OKRs will speak for itself

Alignment of goals

OKRs are transparent and so it will be easy for departments and individuals to connect and align their projects and objectives with that of the organization.

Transparent communication

When objectives become transparent and goals become aligned, effective communication will begin to take shape and information will be transferred efficiently. It is a win-win situation for all!

Matthew Mcconaughey GIF

How to set objectives?

Here are some tips to get them right:

1. Easy to read

Objectives should be easy to read and simple to understand. All employees must be able to read and comprehend them.

2. Organization first

Set organizational objectives first, followed by team objectives so that they can be aligned to that of the organization.

3. Too many cooks spoil the broth

Limit to 3-5 objectives, as too many objectives would diffuse the efforts. 

4. Be clear

Do not use complicated terms or ambiguous language, as it would create confusion regarding the progress or end result of an objective.

5. Make them fun

You can make objectives fun by aligning them with your company culture and by using pictures, GIFs and even inside jokes to make them interesting.

Objectives are followed by key results

1. Set 2-5 key results

Too many would be difficult to track. 3 KRs per objective works.

2. Focus on end results

Key Results should contain outcomes or end results.

E.g. Obtain 15 new backlinks for the website.

3. Measurable metrics

Key results should be measurable, and they should be easily verifiable. You can use metrics to be precise.

Mistakes to avoid

1.  Don't stretch it

Stretch goals are great but don’t stretch them too much. This will create confusion amongst teams while collaborating on projects and would also make teams lose focus.

2. Frame them wisely

OKRs should deliver some sort of business value. Do not frame OKRs that are easily achievable and therefore do not require allocation of resources. If such OKRs come up, rephrase them. If found to be of low productivity, you can reallocate the resources.

3. Assign sufficient key results

Not assigning sufficient key results for objectives will result in missing the OKR completely. This can result in delay in achieving the objective, improper resource allocation etc.

Grading OKRs

Once they’re set, OKRs have to graded based on how much has been achieved.

Google used a system of assigning a score between 0-1, 1 meaning the objective has been fully achieved. 

Each key result is assigned a score and its weighted average (according to the difficulty of the KR) is assigned to the objective. Organizations can use their own methods to score and evaluate objectives.

However, OKRs are not used to evaluate performance. It is a tool used to set and achieve objectives of an organization. Hence, OKRs should be visible to all, usually discussed at regular intervals, where prior ones are reviewed, and new ones are set.

OKRs should also be updated regularly. Here’s a timeline for setting and achieving objectives.

Source: onstrategyhq.com

 The frequency with which a team updates their OKRs depends on their needs, communication within the team and their execution of outcomes.

Time to bring OKRs to your organization

Research shows that performance is higher when people commit to their goals, and so it is important to get all employees on the same page.

Step 1: Tell your employees about OKRs and how they work.

Step 2: Tell them why it's necessary. How using OKRs would benefit the organization, and how your current system of setting goals is holding you back.

Step 3: Explain how OKRs are going to be applicable to each person, team and department. The importance of timeline should be highlighted, how it is an integral part of OKRs.

Step 4:  Clarify all doubts and dispel all worries.

Here are some examples of OKRs 

Objective:

Increase customer retention

Key results:

  • Collect feedback from 15 customers/month
  • Regular evaluation of customer feedback
  • Maintain NPS of 9

Objective:

Hit $10 million sales in Q1

Key Results:

·         Increase retail distribution

·         Reduce response time by 5 minutes.

OKRs can be specific to a domain; sales, marketing, HR and can even include personal goals.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

 

Due to the pandemic and remote work conditions, managers are struggling to keep their teams lively. You can check our list of 10+ Fun Virtual Team Building Activities and Games for your Remote Team. During the pandemic, OKRs gained the limelight that they deserved. Several new ways have come up to set OKRs. OKRs through video conferencing, OKRs on apps, OKRs on social media etc.  There are various OKR frameworks and templates.

Here’s an example of an OKR template:

Conclusion

Now that we have covered the basics, you can go ahead and start with implementing OKRs at your organization. There are several options and available on the internet which facilitate OKR goal setting.  If you are confused as to what to choose, here’s one such platform to start with.

Happy goal setting!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can OKRs change?

Objectives are the things that the company wants to achieve over time. They are measurable and quantifiable in order for them to be able to track progress. Key Results help set out how you will go about achieving your objectives by providing details of what needs to be done and by when. The main difference between OKRs and other goal setting methods is that OKRs focus on qualitative goals rather than quantitative results. This might be because quantitative outcomes may not always be clear enough for managers to know how they should act accordingly.

2. Can OKRs be Binary?

Ideally Key results should not be binary, in that it toggles between done/not done. This does not serve the purpose of OKRs: It hides the progress until deadline, doesn't inspire the right adequate feedback, and the quality of the solution delivered gets mired in between the binary states.

3. Should OKRs be tied to compensation?

Objectives and Key Results are a set of goals that are measurable, achievable, and aligned with the company's values. They are designed to provide employees with a framework for tracking their progress in an attempt to align individual performance goals with the success of the company. The main arguments against linking OKRs to compensation is that it can lead to employees feeling pressured when they don't meet their goals, which can in turn lead them to feel dissatisfied or disengaged in their work.

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