It has been almost a decade since Alec Mace developed the goal-setting approach. He went on to declare that goal-setting is one of the most efficient ways the world will ever know for enhancing the productivity of the people. He was spot on!
Numerous studies have proven the fact that just by setting goals you can turn an average performer into a top performer. In research conducted in 2021, it was found that employees who work with a goal-setting approach are 14.2 times more inspired in the organization. Moreover, they are 3.6 times more committed to their organization. No wonder, the world has witnessed a tremendous spike in the popularity and demand for a goal-setting framework, especially the OKRs.
Top-performing global companies have been using it, your competitors are using and we assume that even your organization is using it. If not, your organization is missing out on a huge chunk of both short and long-term benefits. Make sure you stay tuned right till the end because today we will answer the most significant FAQs about OKRS.
#1 What is OKR and what are its key benefits?
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is one of the most widely used goal-setting frameworks that is driven by its goal-related outcomes. OKR serves as a performance, goal management, and strategic framework that helps the organization, team, and individuals to move in one direction through a goal-based strategy. It enables the organization to specify goals or objectives and then track the outcome. In a nutshell, OKRs are how you track progress, create alignment, and promote engagement around measurable goals.
The benefits of OKRs are plenty. They create intense focus and make your teams result-oriented. By establishing a clear focus, OKR creates a unified understanding of success amongst all the teams and individuals of the organization. Secondly, well designed OKRs align the whole company and ensure that everyone pulls in the same direction. This is made possible via the enhancement of transparency and communication in the organization. Thirdly, OKRs help the teams to drive improvement, growth, and innovation.
#2 When should I start using OKRs for my organization?
If your organization has 3 or more people, it’s already a great time to start instituting a culture of ownership and building your OKR muscle. If you run a small start-up having at least 3 employees, a medium-sized business of 200 employees, or a large organization with 5,000 employees – now is the best time to adopt the OKR methodology. It benefits your employees, teams, and the organization in the long run. No matter how many employees you have, OKRs will ensure that the teams are aligned and working towards “what matters the most” for organizational success. This is the reason that OKRs are increasingly becoming popular among startups and VCs as they scale pretty well.
#3 What should I do if I want to get started with OKRs?
If you want to use the OKR framework and implement it in the best possible manner, the initial step is to understand what is needed to implement OKRs successfully. We found a few common things amongst the organizations that implemented OKRs quite successfully. The foremost pillar is knowledge. You need to have a complete understanding of the OKR framework for implementing it in a successful manner. The second is motivation. You and your organization should be motivated enough to work with an approach that is based on goal-setting. For this, you should ensure that your employees are well aware of how OKRs will benefit them as well as the organization. The third is culture. Organizations need to have an open and transparent culture where failing and learning are absolutely normal. The fourth and last is a well-performing OKR program that fosters transparency, is easy to use, and allows teams to actively collaborate.
#4 How do I get my teams on board with OKRs?
The initial step is to be as transparent as you can. Tell them every tiny bit of detail they require and even ask for. Why is the organization implementing OKRs? What difference will the OKRs bring to the organization and the employees? Informing your employees and teams about how their work contributes to achieving the ultimate goal of the organization will make them feel more motivated and interested to accept the OKR framework. Secondly, consider investing in training an OKR Champion as you start implementing the OKR framework. It’s vital for your employees to be properly trained about how OKR actually works. Who could be better at this job than someone who breathes OKR day in and day out?
#5 Should OKRs be set top-down or bottom-up?
The answer is both! This is how it should work – leaders of the organization come together to decide about “what matters the most” for the quarter. This is followed by communicating the decided priorities with the objectives of the organization. A discussion is then held with the teams about what they think their OKRs should be. It is these team OKRs that move the company objectives forward. It is highly important for the leaders to let their teams have a say in what their OKRs should be. This discussion is what results in boosting the motivation and the engagement of the teams and individuals in the organization. However, it is equally important that the suggested OKRs are properly aligned with the objectives of the organization.
#6 How do we structure the OKRs?
If you are rolling out the OKRs throughout your organization, it is ideal to commence with just two or three organizational objectives with 3-4 key results each. These objectives are the direction and area you will want your teams to focus on for that specific quarter. They should drive motivation, growth, change, and innovation. Once the objectives for teams are established and aligned with the organizational objectives, it’s time to move forward to the key results. These are responsible for reflecting the progress towards achieving the objective. Since key results are quantifiable, they have to have a number in them. If they don’t include a number, they are not a key result! Updating these key results on a weekly basis to ensure that you are on track. Key results should always be outcomes and not outputs.
#8 What tool to use for OKRs? Spreadsheets vs OKR software
If you are thinking of using spreadsheets for OKRs, then stop. It’s a big NO! You and your teams are 90% more likely to set OKRs and then overlook them until the end of the month, or even worse, the end of the quarter. Let’s face it, managing multiple spreadsheets for OKRs is completely unwieldy. The OKR framework is an agile process, while manual tracking is completely contradictory to it. OKR software ensures that the objectives are clear and even provides visualizations to make them comprehensible. Through a visualized goal structure, both the leaders and teams can easily see how aligned the teams are towards the organizational objective. Using spreadsheets will scatter the focus to an unimaginable extent, especially for the employees that are new to OKRs. The software on the other nudges the employees to update their objectives on a regular basis. Therefore, avoiding spreadsheets and using OKR software is highly recommended if you want to enjoy the benefits of OKRs.
#9 How do OKRs help remote working teams?
One of the biggest obstacles that employees face while working in remote and hybrid modes is the communication gap. Endless back and forth, zoom fatigue, and piles of emails overwhelm the employees on an everyday basis. Thanks to the clarity and simplicity of OKRs, the individual tasks, team objectives, and organizational goals become crystal clear to one and all. This clarity results in stimulating motivation and productivity in the employees. OKRs make it easier for the employees to take ownership of the results and perform at their best level, and saves employees from the headaches of hunting down their priorities amongst the bundle of emails and sheets.
#10 What should I do when the OKRs don’t work?
Being a tried and tested methodology, OKR is known to bring success to top-performing organizations globally. However, if they are not delivering the results for your organization, the first step is to find out the issue and fix it. More often than not, it will be because of one or more reasons listed below:
• Having abstract objectives
• Having more than five OKRs
• Tying OKRs to compensation
• Not having each member of the team on board
• Not having a specific owner for each OKR
• Not having set dates for reviewing the key results
Remember, that the OKRs framework is agile, and hence you can toss out any objective from the OKR cycle if you think it’s not working. Moreover, be patient as the OKR framework is a continuous process and not a one-night wonder. You may even consider enlisting an expert or OKR coach to get things on track.
We hope to have answered each and every question of yours related to OKRs. However, it is probable that more questions might have popped up in your mind while going through this article. To ease the burden off your shoulders, we are always here to assist you with anything and everything related to the OKR program, performance management, and employee engagement concerns. Contact us right away!