OKRs is a goal-setting method used by many successful companies around the World and especially in Silicon Valley. The most famous one being Google.
If you missed the previous post, we talked about how to boost your startup growth with OKRs.
To make OKRs work for your company as they did for Google, you must do it right. There is no unique way to implement OKRs. In this post, you will learn the main steps to set up OKRs and how to deal with each of them.
Communicate about OKRs
The first thing to do when implementing OKRs is to make sure everybody knows what OKRs are and is willing to use them. For that, you can conduct workshops or meetings to explain them to the entire company. This step is crucial if you want all team members to be engaged in the process.
Choose an OKR tool
You need to pick a tool to manage your OKRs. It can be a simple spreadsheet or a dedicated software like Happierco. Dedicated software allows everyone to easily view, follow and manage their OKRs. It also helps have a history of your previous OKRs and get more actionable data for further improvement. More importantly, dedicated software makes communication simple.
OKRs are set during a defined time frame. Usually, it is quarterly. But you can try other time frames and find what is perfect for your company.
When writing your OKR, keep these two questions in mind :
1. What do I have to accomplish? The answer provides the objective.
2. How am I going to get this done? The answers are the key results.
Your objective must be ambitious and definite. The key results are what clearly makes the objective achievable. They have to be measurable and lead to grading the objective.
It is important to know that all parties involved must agree with the objectives. They should not be dictated or mandated. In order to get a high commitment, more than 60% of objectives should be from bottoms up. For each period, OKRs have to be set for each level in the organization: company, departments, teams, and individuals.
Each level has to define less than 5 objectives with a maximum of 4 key results for each objective. Keeping the number of objectives and key results low help you work on the most important things and not get distracted.
Set company OKRs
The company objectives are the first you need to write down. They are usually written by the CEO or the leadership because they know what is most important for the company. After this is done, all other levels can write their objectives in alignment with the company objectives and find how they can contribute to it. Company OKRs are a big picture, the top-level focus for the entire company.
Set team OKRs
The team objectives are written in two steps. For the first step, the CEO, or the leadership conducts a meeting with the managers of each team to write a draft of the team objectives.
Next, the manager conducts a private meeting with their team members to discuss and review all the objectives. Everyone in the team is involved in the process and know exactly what their team has to do. Team OKRs must define team priorities, not just a collection of individuals OKRs.
Set individual OKRs
Personal OKRs define what a team member is working on. By the end of the OKRs period, he/she can show what progress was made. To define individual objectives, the person involved discusses with their manager to really know what is expected. It’s a negotiation with the manager and both have to agree with the defined list of objectives.
Edit and improve all OKRs
The last part of the OKR setup for the period is the review cycle. When individual objectives are defined, you can now finalize team objectives by improving them according to team members’ objectives. The top company objectives can also be modified to fit all teams OKR. This is a very critical part of the process. Because each one will be involved in the definition of the objectives at each level, they will be very engaged.
At the end of the period, you must evaluate your OKR in order to measure your accomplishment. Success is defined by a grade between 60 and 70%. If you achieve less than that, it is not a sign of failure. Maybe your objectives were too high. At the same way, if you achieve 100% of your objectives, they were not ambitious enough. Each level has to present the result of their OKRs and analyze their achievement. It’s important to learn from the past OKRs data to improve the future.
If an objective has not been achieved, you can continue working on it in the next period, but only if it is still relevant. Don’t forget to celebrate your small or big wins. This will encourage your team to accomplish more next time.
Mistakes to avoid
- Don’t force people to set OKR, or dictate their objectives
- Set from the bottom up not top-down
- Don’t set too many objectives or key results
- Set measurable and quantitative key results
- Your objectives must be time-bound
- Don’t write tasks as key results
- Don’t use OKRs for a compensation program or a performance review system
- Find the best method that matches your team
- Most important, don’t implement an OKR and forget about it
Now, you know all the steps needed to set OKRs for your company. You have to find a suitable way to use them with your team. This is how you will make them work for your company.
Part three of this series is ready: How to write Objective and Key results — Practical examples