OKR Guidelines: How to Set and Reach Your Goals
First introduced in the mid-1980s, OKR is a goal-setting methodology is still being used today by many companies, including Google and Intel. It was developed by Andy Grove of Intel and Gary Kennedy of Oracle. Fast forward to the present, OKR has become a solid framework being implemented by leading companies worldwide. If you want to greatly accelerate the growth of your company, it makes sense to follow suit whatever strategy these other successful companies do, right?
Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) seems to be a very effective management tool that many organisations swear by and wouldn’t really trade for other goal-setting strategies.
But what makes OKRs so powerful? And how can you apply it to your team in order to boost the growth of your company?
When applied consistently, OKRs can significantly improve your chance of achieving your goals and produce top-performing employees who are highly engaged and motivated.
Set fewer objectives at a time.
When setting goals, it’s easy to get carried away and list down as many objectives as possible. Having too many objectives can lead to confusion and lack of focus among your employees. The ideal number of objectives per OKR is between 3 and 6. Remember that OKRs are short-term (usually three-six months). Thus, you will have some other time to work on other goals. Prioritise the most important objectives. Having a lot on your list can lead to burnout among your employees, and fewer accomplishments.
Quarterly OKRs works best for most companies.
Compared to other time periods, setting OKRs quarterly is ideal because three months is not long enough to prevent changes from taking place, and not too short to not achieve any significant result.
Annual OKRs are important too.
Apart from the quarterly OKRs, it would be beneficial for your team to have yearly OKRs. These should be comprised of high-level goals or objectives and must reflect your company mission and vision. Your quarterly OKRs should be aligned with your annual OKRs.
Each objective should have Key Results.
Once you determined your objectives, the next step is to identify the KRs for each. These are measurable results that let you know whether you have achieved your objectives or not.
OKRs must be measurable.
Setting quantifiable OKRs is critical to ensure that you have a means of measuring and tracking your progress. Knowing what your goals are, and creating a process of measuring the fulfilment of these goals for your entire team help in having a clearer understanding of what works and what needs to be done. This also guides your team members to focus on things that lead to the best results.
OKRs must be time-bound.
OKRs are not meant to last. They should have a clear end date. This is not only to instil a sense of urgency but more importantly to stop postponing important tasks, set a due date on measuring results, and focusing on high-priority tasks in a timely manner. Having a deadline allows your team to accomplish more and work harder.
The best OKRs are almost achievable.
A 100% score on OKR does not indicate success. It means that your team has played it safe by setting easily achievable objectives. Proponents of OKR suggest finding the middle ground – the sweet spot between the impossible and the achievable. Thus, a score of 60 or 70% is considered very good.
Objectives are based on historical data.
You don’t just create objectives out of the blue. Apart from ensuring that your goals are aligned to the overall mission and vision of your company, they should also be based on facts. When setting OKRs, you should take into account historical data and trends. This way, you could effectively set up ambitious yet achievable goals that motivate and challenge your team.
The best OKRs are inspiring.
While your OKRs are challenging, they should inspire and motivate your team members too in a way that they are willing to push themselves to their limits and work hard to contribute to the company’s success. You can inspire your people by creating OKRs that support the big picture (organisational goals), that clearly benefit your employees, and have definite, actionable steps.
It follows a clear mission.
When creating your objectives, it is important to think about the specific reason why you want to achieve it. It’s important that your OKRs are aligned with the mission of your company. Ask yourself – does it help the company grow? Does it help improve customers’ lives? And does it help the rest of your team grow?
Each team member should have an OKR.
For an OKR to be effective, it needs to be created and owned by an individual then reviewed by the manager. Both should keep track of the team member’s OKRs to ensure that the objectives set are being achieved. Having ambiguous objectives with no stakeholders is never helpful and can simply lead to poor accomplishments. Setting multi-level goals in an organisation is essential to the effectiveness of OKRs.
- Individual-level – OKR is owned by an employee
- Team level – OKR is owned by a team (employees plus their manager)
- Company level – owned by the key leadership or management team and the CEO – You
As the manager or leader in your company, it is vital for you to seek approval from your team members in order for your OKRs to be effective. You want to solicit their feedback and suggestions and empower them to contribute more to the success of your team. Companies that set their OKRs in public have the highest success rates because individual objectives and key results are being reviewed by both their managers and peers.
OKR experts agree that better performance is seen on teams that set goals with cross-functional contributors. “Goals that are public for the entire company to see get 10.4% more check-ins than private goals.” Says CEO Kris Duggan of BetterWorks.
Forget about hierarchy. One research found that employees view their manager’s goals 20% more often than their own. This means that people value transparency and accountability and expect that their management team will also reciprocate.
Imagine a company working in harmony in achieving unified goals. That’s what OKR can do for your company.
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