How to Implement OKRs Into Your Organization and How to Use Them
OKR is a powerful tool that helps teams and organizations stay on track with goals and overall purpose – successfully.
Setting goals for your organization and aligning your team to reach them is vital, not to mention it brings efficiency to self-managing. In this article we’ll give you the 101 on:
- What are OKRs and why they are a powerful tool
- How to implement them into your organization
- Tips on how to use them effectively
What are OKRs?
If you have been thinking about implementing OKRs into your organization and team, then you’ve come to the right place. This powerful tool not only helps align your organization’s goals and purpose with those to your teams’, but also brings transparency to its process with measurable actions. OKRs is a great tool to make your organization grow and maintain clear goals as to where you would like to go.
The main objective of OKRs is to create discipline that will generate bold results in performance and efficiency. The name itself stands for its main purpose: Objectives and Key Results.
Using OKRs within your team not only brings clarity as to the organization’s main goals but also helps teams work together for a greater purpose.
Why is it a powerful tool?
OKR is a methodology that really helps breakdown objectives and like stated before – it measures actions. With this tool you’re able to really leave everything clear to each team as OKRs are a visual representation as to where the organization is at, and what direction they wish to move along.
Things to keep in mind when implementing this tool into teams and organizations:
- Always ask where the company is at, and where do they want to go? (objectives)
- How will you know you have arrived at your destination? (key results - measurable actions)
OKRs at Google
OKRs gained popularity after Google adopted this method into their organization – successfully. According to an article, the prominent company sets up to four to six goals quarterly. “Google encourages its team to set these quarterly goals as high as possible. One of the benefits of the OKRs process is that everyone in the company is focused on the same objectives.”
And why is Google crediting their success to OKRs? According to these key points, Google has been able to keep their company aligned with teams and overall purpose. Let’s break it down:
- Clarity: Keep your goals and purposes clear within your organization. Sometimes if goals or objectives aren’t achieved is due to lack of transparency or lack of management within your OKRs.
- Alignment: Every OKR should support the overall company’s OKRs, this is, to achieve alignment between everyone and make everything much simpler.
- OKR Renewal: Once a quarter ends, so are its set of OKRs and new ones are being drafted. “When goal management is continuous of an event, incredible results begin to occur.”
- Formulaic: The process to implement OKRs within a company can be quite daunting at the beginning, but in the long run it helps any organization to stay on track and has helped Google with their success.
How to implement OKRs into your organization, then?
Implementing them into your team is not an easy task, especially if no one has ever been familiarized with OKRs. With that being said, a few things to kick-off OKRs duty:
- Start small: Define clear objectives to your teams. Probably the best way to go is to do a pilot to test-run if it will work or not. Keep in mind that not all departments/teams could need an OKR. And not all companies’ OKRs should be the same!
- Start quarterly: Start implementing OKRs on a quarterly basis to get the hang of them.
- Set 2-3 goals: Implement them at the beginning of the year, set goals and communicate them with your team so everyone is onboard.
- Check their progress: Check them once in a while, check its progress and see if they need re-adjustments along the way.
Define your objectives from the beginning
It’s super important that you set goals – not more than four so your team is able to reach all of them successfully and efforts are not being diluted achieving more/other goals. Be clear with your objectives as this will help teams to achieve every one of them. According to an article, it is advisable to NEVER set objectives such as: “maintain our position on the market,” “continue doing this, or that.” Be clear so they are easier to achieve.
Define your Key Results
Define your key results from the beginning alongside your objectives and try to set measurable key results – maximum three per objective. For example: Increase conversion rate by 50%, or increase likes by 35%. With numbers included, you’re able to see at the end whether this number has been reached, or not – making your key results measurable.
What are some things to avoid when setting your key results per objective?
- Never use words such as: consult, analyze, or evaluate – these are more of activities/tasks rather than measurable actions.
- Make sure your key results match your objectives
- All key results must show evidence of completion
Don’t mix OKR review with Performance Review
Setting OKRs and measuring them is great for your teams and organization, however, keep in mind that OKR performance is very different to those of employee performance. Why? Swipley’s CEO, Angus Davis, explains:“OKRs are not designed to be used as a weapon against your employees,” he says. “They are a tool for motivating and aligning people to work together. They increase transparency, accountability and empowerment."
It’s important to separate these two entities so employees are able to be motivated and not judged by OKRs performances, whether it’s positive or negative. Davis adds: “Let’s say we bring OKRs into a performance review, and punish the person for scoring lower than maybe they had hoped — they go without their bonus. That just encourages them to sand bag their OKRs from there on out. They won’t stretch. They won’t push hard.” In short, they’ll play it safe. And that’s when startups stagnate.”
OKRs are a team’s and the organization’s effort – keep that in mind. Managing OKRs throughout is important to make sure if they are being met, or if they need to be discussed further.
Check out John Doerr's powerful Ted Talk on how important and powerful OKRs can be to drive organizations into success.
Tips on how to use them with Holaspirit
1. You’re able to modify your OKRs and review
You’re able to review your OKRs with Holaspirit during a Tactical Meeting during the Metrics rounds. It’s up to you and your team if you wish to review this weekly or as often as you need.
2. Modify your OKRs and adjust them as you need them to in each OKR card
- Add Key results
- Add members
- Add roles
3. Link your OKRs with ease so you don’t have to miss any and you’re able to keep track!
4. How to add an OKR with Holaspirit:
- All members of a circle can add, modify or delete OKRs for their circle on Holaspirit.
- All members of a circle can be assigned to an OKR.
In the OKRs module, click on the Add OKR button:
On the right side of the card:
- Add a Title to the objective (which should be qualitative and ambitious)
- Choose the circle in charge of achieving the OKR
- Choose a frequency for the OKR (Annual, Quarterly...) according to the OKR cycle in place in your organization
- Add a Description to the OKR to clarify the strategy and communicate important information
- Add Key Results (quantitative and measurable) by simply clicking on Add Key Result. Edit by clicking directly on the line.
So now that we’ve given you the lowdown on OKRs and how to implement them, are you ready to start using this powerful tool with your team?
Give it a go!
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