in

10 OKR Best Practices You Have To Follow in 2024!

OKR Best Practices

Every now and then, you hear a company becoming popular due to its success. But, you rarely listen to the story of how they reached this place. Some of the biggest names, such as Google, Amazon, Apple, started with some goals and later learned how to manage them.   

While these companies might be very different, they all had one thing in common. And, that was OKR (Objectives and Key Results).  

Are you unfamiliar with this term? Well, worry not! Because we will cover everything, there is about implementing OKRs, OKR goal-setting, and OKR best practices that actually work. Let’s get started!  

Best to implement OKRs!

Before we dive into OKR best practices, we need to provide you with a tool to help you implement OKRs in your organization. While we’ve written lists on the top free OKR software available today, if your organization uses Microsoft Teams on a regular basis then Teamflect is a fully integrated OKR tool that you can try for free, right now!

Start using Microsoft Teams to manage your goals!
No sign-up required.
Teamflect Image

Explanation of Objectives and Key Results

To kick things off we should talk about OKR fundamentals becausee before discussing OKR best practices, we need to have a solid foundation with respect to OKRs.

Objectives and key results is a goal-setting framework which is used to define and monitor progress while achieving specific outcomes.

Objectives are higher-level and qualitative goals that you set to define what your organization, team, or employee wants to achieve. These goals are usually time-bound and inspirational, and they serve as a guide for your efforts. Simply put, objectives answer the question, “What do we want to achieve?”.

Key Results, are your measurable and quantitative milestones when it comes to accomplishing your Objectives.

These milestones provide a more concrete way to gauge success while determining to what extent your Objectives are met. Key Results are used to answer the question, “How will we measure our progress toward our Objective?”

The Difference Between Objectives and Key Results

The nature and purpose of Objectives and Key Results are different. While Objectives are qualitative, Key Results are the quantitative and they offer a specific target for measurement.

By setting objectives, you can inspire and motivate your employees or teams and provide a sense of purpose. Key Results, on the other hand, will detail your actionable steps and metrics needed to achieve your Objectives.

Why Do OKRs Matter for Company Goals?   

Before discussing OKR best practices, Let’s start with what is OKR? It stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is a technique used for goal setting and management.

John Doerr, a Google investor, attended a course by Andy Grove in 1975. At this period, the term OKR was first coined as a theory.   

Grove said, “The key result has to be measurable.” He further stated, “But at the end, you can look, and without any arguments: Did I do that or did I not do it? Yes? No? Simple. No judgments in it.”  

This statement also emphasizes the importance of OKR for companies. Regardless of the size, companies need to set some company goals. Next, it has to work towards achieving those. In-between, there are many factors, such as Focus, Commitment, Performance Tracking, etc.   

From setting the goal to achieving it, all of these aspects can be easily planned out by using OKR techniques.    

OKR Goal Setting Tips  

Setting OKRs is the most important and first part of achieving them. Therefore, your focus should be clear on how to set them in the first place.   

Here are some tips you should follow when setting company OKRs:  

  • Do not focus on individual needs  
  • Keep it grounded  
  • Celebrate and recognize every single step  
  • Think of different aspects surrounding the goal  
  • Consider your team’s condition before any further step  
  • Pay Attention to your organization or team needs first  
  • Start by eliminating the reasons that might stop you  

10 OKR Best Practices with OKR Examples  

Now that we know everything about goal setting and implementing OKRs, let’s look at the OKR best practices.

1. Start Small 

The word OKR starts with O, which means objectives. Setting an objective means getting the desired outcome. However, it is only possible when you start with a small and grounded number. For instance, having 100 objectives for a year will lead your company nowhere.

If you are working individually or in a team, this is even impossible. That is why you should start with around 3-5 objectives per year. This way, you can define more once you achieve the previous company’s OKRs. 

2. Combine Objectives and Key Results  

After “O”, “KR” stands for Key Results. It is a measurable way to define your success. It is the same as what Andy Grove mentioned in 1975. The key results help you identify a way to achieve your objectives. For example, if your company wants to launch 100 new products, this is an objective.

On the other hand, marketing those products is considered the Key Result. This technique of combining the Objective and Key Results will take your organization to places!  

3. Track Your Progress  

Setting your goals, is not it? In fact, it is the start of a process. Now, you have to work towards achieving that goal. OKR also includes tracking your progress regularly. If you have employees working under you, you should measure their performance individually. 

This one among OKR best practices, does not only allow you to see how far you have come but it has countless other benefits as well. For instance, it provides you an insight into whether your employees are facing any problems or not.   

4. Assign a Time Duration  

OKR should be set within a timeframe. Like your company goals, you do not want to continue working on the same one for a complete year. Thus, you should restrict them by assigning a duration.  Setting monthly or quarterly OKRs will help you to learn, adapt and grow your business at the same time. 

5. Pair Department OKR with Company OKR  

OKRs for a single department are different from those for the entire company. However, they should be aligned to get the best results.   

Only this way, it is possible for every single department to support the business goals. You can start working as a team today by using Teamflect inside Microsoft Teams. It will offer you the best OKR and Goals module to work within a department or a team.   

okr best practices infographic

6. Make Sure Everyone Is in Agreement

Everyone should be working together harmoniously to produce meaningful outcomes, and this begins with conveying them your preferred strategy for achieving your OKRs.

To communicate your OKRs effectively, you need to talk about their significance for your organization and why you want to implement them. Everyone, from the department leaders to the team members, should review your OKRs so that they can have a clear path to achieving them.

7. Have an OKR Champ

“When used right, OKRs can help devolve authority to teams and provide governance.”

Allan Kelly, Agile OKR Coach & OKR Author

But, communicating your OKRs with the entire organization can be difficult. So, you need an OKR champion to successfully implement your OKRs.

With an OKR champion you can:

  • Adopt OKRs more easily.
  • Make sure that everyone is performing their part.
  • Improve OKR transparency.
  • Make sure that everybody is on the same page.

8. Train and Include Everyone

One of the most important OKR best practices is making sure that everyone receives training. You also need to include them in the process of implementation. Before starting your first cycle of OKR you can conduct workshops for your leads.

Furthermore, you can update teams weekly and keep the process transparent. This will allow you to maintain alignment across teams and they will be able to foresee possible issues.

9. Prioritize Objectives Not Initiatives

Initiatives are the projects you need to complete to get to your OKRs. But sometimes employees treat OKRs as initiatives. Initiatives can be helpful in the completion of OKRs and they are connected with them but, they should be tracked separately.

10. Encourage Autonomy

One of the OKRs best practices you definitely need to follow is promoting autonomy. You can allow employees to set their own OKRs to foster a sense of autonomy among them.

Your employees can use their skills more effectively and be more excited about the projects they choose to work on because they will be more invested in them. This can also help them advance in their careers.

Don’t Make These Mistakes with OKRs

mistakes with OKRs

The OKR best practices above will help you implement a structured OKR process in your organization but it’s also important to go over the common mistakes with OKRs to make sure you have an effective goal setting process.

1. Having unrealistic goals

Having ambitious business goals is more than okay but you can’t set impossible to achieve goals and then expect achieving them. If you set unrealistic objectives, your team will be frustrated so when you are picking objectives, you should ask your employees and understand what’s achievable for them.

2. Using only top-down goals

Using only top-down goals will reduce creativity and enthusiasm because employees will not be able to tailor the goals according to their skills and expertise. Therefore, you need to include bottom-up goals as well as top-down goals while setting your objectives.

To avoid this, you should communicate with your employees and allow them to contribute to the OKR process. However, always make sure that they are on the same page and that their OKRs support the organization’s objectives.

3. Using ambiguous language

One of the OKR fundamentals is using clear language and being specific. For instance, simply stating that you want to increase sales is not enough. You need to specify by what percentage you need to increase your sales performance and the timeline by which you have to accomplish this.

To avoid this mistake, you can set SMART (specific, measurable, aligned/actionable, relevant, and timely) goals because employees need to have a clear direction in their minds to accomplish their objectives.

4. Failing to monitor progress every week

It’s important to monitor employee progress each week to create disciplined working habits among your employees. You may start with your goals at the start of the quarter but if you don’t track progress weekly, your employees may not be able to stay consistent with their work.

To eliminate this problem, you need to talk to your employees and keep them strategically aligned to your organization’s objectives.

5. Treating OKRs as tasks

You shouldn’t treat your objectives as tasks to “To-Do items” because they are results. They can’t be achieved right then and there. They take time.

If your organization rushes OKRs and goal achievement, you can very easily burn your team out!

6. Having either aspirational or operational objectives

Operational goals are focused on achieving short-term targets while aspirational goals broader and long-term. You need to assign both of them for a successful OKR strategy.

For the successful completion of ambitious objectives, you need to collaborate with your employees while setting OKRs and make sure you include both aspirational and operational OKRs.

7. Implementing too many objectives

Having too many goals will overwhelm your employees because as the number of goals increases it will be harder to focus on them. As a result, they will be disengaged and lose confidence in their abilities.

So, it’s a better OKR strategy to focus on the achievable amount of goals. This way, your employees can exceed expectations and remain confident in themselves.

8. Allocating your resources poorly

Providing the necessary tools and resources is important when it comes to achieving OKRs. Otherwise, your employees might get disengaged being unable to accomplish much.

To avoid this mistake, you need to provide them with the resources including your time, training, and support. If you think that you may not be able to provide the required resources, you can alter the OKRs or use your creativity to provide these resources.

5 Companies That Successfully Practice OKRs

1. Google

One of the first companies to use the OKR best practices was Google. In 1999, Andy Glove shared his theory with the Google founders, and it has now been standard procedure throughout the company.

Each employee at Google has a personal OKR in addition to team OKRs that are open to the public. Google uses the aspirational OKRs for their employees to exceed expectations because they want to maintain their position as the top search engine.

2. LinkedIn

Over 774 million people use the top networking and recruiting site worldwide. CEO Jeff Weiner has openly discussed how he makes sure each of his team members has a particular set of OKRs to keep them motivated and engaged.

According to Jeff, OKRs need to be difficult and meaningful. Regular weekly group sessions are scheduled to make sure everyone is moving forward.

3. Intel

Intel is the place where the OKR methodology has been developed. Andy Grove, the CEO of Intel and creator of the OKR process, witnessed his company transform from a manufacturer of storage space to the biggest semiconductor chip manufacturer in the world.

As the business expanded, he realized that OKRs, which he initially referred to as “Intel management by objectives,” were necessary to increase productivity. His business model has expanded to other technology giants in addition to helping Intel succeed throughout the years.

4. Amazon

Amazon adopts an established Aspirational OKR to keep everyone focused on the same objective. Each person has an OKR, which is connected to the team OKRs that Amazon establishes for various timeframes, such as weekly, quarterly, or yearly.

5. Zynga

The goal of game developer Zynga is to bring people together through gaming. They created an OKR in 2011 with the goal of making it the most popular poker app for iOS. Within six months, they achieved success.

They accomplished this by giving individual OKRs priority over team OKRs and assigning a manager to each employee to guarantee accountability.

Conclusion  

Making the switch to OKR is a bold move and we here at Teamflect, commend you for it. We hope our OKR best practices and OKR fundamentals help you in that process. We are proud of the OKR software we have created and we are absolutely certain that our software will be your strongest ally in setting and tracking OKRs.

With the OKR technique software Teamflect, you will accomplish more and be more organized when it comes to your OKRs. Try Teamflect for free now to see how you can improve your OKR process!

Use the best OKR software for Microsoft Teams!
No sign-up required.
Teamflect Image

Frequently Asked Questions

What is The Difference Between Objectives and Key Results?

The nature and purpose of Objectives and Key Results are different. While Objectives are qualitative, Key Results are the quantitative and they offer a specific target for measurement.

By setting objectives, you can inspire and motivate your employees or teams and provide a sense of purpose. Key Results, on the other hand, will detail your actionable steps and metrics needed to achieve your Objectives.

What are some useful OKR Goal Setting Tips? 

Setting OKRs is the most important and first part of achieving them. Therefore, your focus should be clear on how to set them in the first place.   

Here are some tips you should follow when setting company OKRs:  

  • Do not focus on individual needs  
  • Keep it grounded  
  • Celebrate and recognize every single step  
  • Think of different aspects surrounding the goal  
  • Consider your team’s condition before any further step  
  • Pay Attention to your organization or team needs first  
  • Start by eliminating the reasons that might stop you  

What are the OKR Best Practices?

  1. Start with Small   
  2. Combine Objectives and Key Results  
  3. Track Your Progress     
  4. Assign a Time Duration  
  5. Pair Department OKR with Company OKR  
  6. Make Sure Everyone Is in Agreement
  7. Have an OKR Champ
  8. Train and Include Everyone
  9. Prioritize Objectives Not Initiatives
  10. Encourage Autonomy

Written by Emily Helen Arnold

Emily Helen Arnold is a content writer at Teamflect. She is obsessed with organizational behavior studies and loves writing/thinking about how a carefully designed people strategy can transform a company.

christina wocintechchat com lq1t 8ms5py unsplash e1645419449439

How to Measure and Track Employee Engagement in Microsoft Teams in 2023?

performance review software for small business

Top 5 Amazing Reasons to Use Performance Review Software for Small Businesses