What Organizational Practices Make OKRs Successful?

Organizational Practices Make OKRs Successful

Organizational Practices Make OKRs Successful

You may be doing a thousand different things for your business but still not making progress. There are also successful companies that only focus on a few initiatives and achieve desirable outcomes. Their leaders know that focusing on the priorities and concentrating the team’s efforts on some goals can bring more productivity.

Companies having few clear goals report that 65% of their people are passionate about their work.

The OKR framework is a great way to leverage this few initiatives approach. When a team adopts this framework, they don’t just use OKRs they have to do much more than that. It’s a whole mindset and culture. Successful management requires you to align your people, build a culture of collaboration and do continuous performance management.

How can your company succeed with better practices and the OKR framework?

Creating business-aligned OKRs

You know what happens when your teams are not aligned, the projects get delayed, customers get poor product experience, and sales are affected. Linking the high-level business strategy with the OKRs also requires experienced leaders. You have to know what matters for your business.

Get your team together and take the help of external OKR experts, if necessary, to analyze your business thoroughly and figure out essential goals and priorities. Connect the broad-level business strategy to the main organizational objectives. This is the first and crucial step in implementing this framework.

Training internal OKR champions

The OKR framework is simple, but you must be disciplined and focused in your approach to making it successful. OKR champions are typically managers in your company who are eager to learn about this framework and will be the internal coaches who ensure the framework works smoothly.

They will guide their team members in following the best practices to leverage the OKR framework, like participating in check-ins, updating their progress, and aligning their tasks with their KRs.

Mix of top-bottom cascading and bottom-up goals

You must not cascade all the goals and objectives down the organization vertically without any input from the employees. When people get orders, their work is less meaningful, and it’s hard to innovate. This framework is not meant for this type of pure top-down management.

Involve your team members in creating their KRs and linking their daily work with the main organizational objectives. This supports cross-team collaboration, psychological safety, and innovative practices.

Regular check-ins

How can you know where your people are lacking and needs support? By getting together and talking. This seems strange, but to leverage the OKR framework, you must review the progress and analyze your team’s situation.

You get many benefits by just interacting and brainstorming with your team regularly. Suppose a marketing manager struggles to manage their time as they manually send LinkedIn connection requests. They might get a suggestion from a team member to use an automation tool. The idea is to identify barriers in progress and find solutions as a team.

Open management and psychological safety

Many companies still operate in old-fashioned management where people work on commands. This is classic vertical management. People tend to be suppressive here and don’t innovate and collaborate extensively.

The OKR framework facilitates the horizontal operation of teams. People find it quite relevant to speak their minds in meetings and collaborate cross-team when they share common objectives. Allow your people to express their ideas.

Continuous performance management

Yearly performance reviews are ineffective; even managers don’t like them. How can you put the year’s work on a paper effectively? You cannot. 

Many companies have already adopted continuous performance reviews. The managers have one-to-one conversations with their team all year. Everyone has OKRs that facilitate two-way feedback between employees and leaders. You are also able to recognize people’s efforts better.

Using OKR software

If you’re a small team, docs and spreadsheets can work great, but for larger teams, managing OKRs and progress becomes messy. Modern OKR software is transparent, easy to use, cloud-based, and multi-functional. Even remote working people can manage their KRs better with it.

Facilitating agile and cross-team collaboration

When there are barriers to efficient collaboration, people tend to work in silos and get disengaged at work. Once you enable the team to align their OKRs, ensure people can reach out to each other smoothly. If you are a small team, sit around in one place only. Use fast and responsive collaboration tools for larger teams, such as Slack or Notion.

Recognizing people’s efforts

You may have a smart and hard-working team, but if you don’t acknowledge their efforts, they may feel something is wrong with their work. This may seem like an avoidable practice, but even small praise goes a long way for employees. The OKR framework makes it easy to appreciate a good performance. Everyone can see who is performing well, and leaders can highlight it with badges or OKR software features.

Reviewing and scoring OKRs after each cycle

Each quarter or year can be a roller coaster ride for startups. It’s essential to know how much you achieved (through KR percentage), but the progress review is not successful unless you reflect on the quality of your work.

Train your team to reflect on their work in the ending OKR cycle and rate their performance by rating their KRs. This practice will enable people to improve their work and skills.

Building an empowering work culture

A lagging work culture is like honey that takes time to take shape under the circumstances, but a powerful one is like water that takes shape instantly. You must follow the proper organizational practices that enable your people to focus on the current business situation and priorities. This will cover all the aspects that support more efficient teamwork and alignment between people.

Implementing the OKRs can be hard when you’re new to this framework. It’s worse to write down and chase the inaccurate and irrelevant OKRs.

If you want help getting a head start on OKRs, talk to us.


1. Who are the OKR Champions or Shepherds?

OKR Shepherds are managers or senior leaders in an organization that behave like OKR coaches and ensure successful implementation of the OKR framework. Their responsibilities include;

  • Go-to person for anything linked to OKRs
  • Driving the smooth rollout and adoption of the OKRs
  • Training the team to work with OKRs and integrate it into their job role.
  • Being accountable and promoting accountability among the group.

2. What should be the ratio of top-down to bottom-up OKRs?

According to John Doerr, investor and OKR expert, a 1:1 ratio work great for most organizations. Your organization should have an equal number of top-down and bottom-up OKRs.

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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