5 Steps to OKR Success

By
Lin Grensing-Pophal
|
May 21, 2021

 OKRs have been called “simple” and “beautiful” by many. But their simplicity and beauty fully rely on the ability for both managers and employees to deploy them effectively. Here we take a look at a simple playbook for putting OKRs into practice.

What Are They

For the uninitiated, OKRs (which stands for Objectives and Key Results) represent a collaborative way for managers and staff to set, monitor, and measure employees’ goals in support of their teams and the organization as a whole. 

OKRs aren’t a trend—but they’re trending. OKRs offer a very tangible, easy-to-implement means for managers to stay on top of what employees are working on and to measure their productivity. 

OKRs help teams set—and meet—BHAGs (big, hairy, audacious goals).

Why OKRs?

So, what value do OKRs provide? In a nutshell: sufficient alignment and transparency in terms of prioritization and resourcing which can minimize or eliminate conflicts of interest and improve focus. The benefits of OKRs include greater alignment, better discipline and prioritization, and improved communication--ensuring that every employee knows the organizational objectives and metrics for success.

How They Work

Managers work with their teams to set OKRs which include:

  • Objectives – a statement of what the employee and/or team will accomplish
  • Key results – measurable outcomes that will indicate the objective has been met
  • Scores – a quantitative score of whether the target was achieved with 1 indicating full achievement. 

So how can you put OKRs to work for you whether your employees are onsite, offsite, or some combination of both? It all involves teamwork--and timing.

Lay the Foundation

While companies have traditionally conducted planning on an annual cycle, today’s fast-moving environment calls for more frequent and, in fact, ongoing planning. A month or so before each quarter is the time for senior leaders to start brainstorming top-line company OKRs. If you’re working with Q1 OKRs, that can also be a good time to set your annual plan which will serve as a guide for the entire company.

Educate employees on what OKRs are and how they work. Emphasize the need to be bold in setting objectives that are far-reaching and challenging. Focus on the importance of tying OKRs to both customer needs and company goals. 

Communicate Broadly 

A few weeks before you’re ready to begin plan implementation, it’s very important to communicate the plan company-wide so that all employees know what the OKRs are for the upcoming year and that they’re reminded of quarterly OKRs on a regular basis. You want to keep the plan top-of-mind for the entire organization.

Hit the Ground Running 

Enlist your staff in ensuring company OKRs are met. Communication should be top-down, and each part of the company should come up with their own OKRs, aligned with the company’s. Ask teams to develop their own OKRs and to share them at regularly scheduled meetings. 

Coordinate

Once divisions, departments, individuals, and teams have created OKRs these should also be shared.  Being aware of what others are working on and taking steps to avoid overlap and redundancy can have a significant impact on productivity and operating costs. Conversations between teams can help raise awareness and identify areas where negotiation may be needed. 

Work the Plan

It’s important for employees to continually track progress and to check in regularly with their managers. Throughout the quarter, employees will measure and share their progress. This can be accomplished through Anama’s 1:1 tool or through weekly check-ins to help facilitate the process.

Periodically throughout the quarter, contributors should assess how likely they are to fully achieve their OKRs. If it appears unlikely that targets will be met, it may be necessary to recalibrate. 

Simple. Beautiful. And powerful too.

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