8 minute read – Posted by – February 8, 2018

How-to Kickstart 2018 Using OKRs

Are you looking to align employee priorities within teams and your overall company? The OKR methodology might be your solution.

The OKR methodology (or Objectives and Key Results) is a great system for managers and employees to set, cascade and communicate goals throughout your company.

There’s no doubt how important it is for managers to align employee objectives with their departments and overall company.

The concept sounds simple enough, but we want to make sure you find success using OKRs for the first time.

In the following article, we’ll be covering…

  • Fundamentals of OKRs
  • Customization of OKRs process
  • Implementation of OKRs in organizations

What is the OKR methodology?

The OKRs methodology is a system for setting, cascading and communicating goals throughout your company.

It brings focus because they make it easy for companies, departments, and teams to recognize what the current priorities are, and to align them with employees personal objectives.

Overall, there are 4 key reasons OKR users find success…

From our experience of using OKRs at 7Geese, they’ve proven to be valuable by saving time and resources on tracking performance as well as building a transparent culture where everyone feels informed.

How to write OKRs

Now that you know the benefits of the OKR methodology, it’s time to get a grasp of how to create your own.

Simply put, objectives are outcomes that reflect current company, department or personal priorities.

For every objective, you might have up to 5 corresponding key results that…

  • Answers the question, “How do I know if I have achieved my outcome?”
  • Is the end result of a series of tasks, but not the tasks themselves
  • Is Measurable

If it’s not quite clear yet, don’t worry.

Have a look at the following OKR example…

As you can see, the objective sounds challenging, and that’s how it should be.

The key results indicate essential milestones that need to happen before this your objective or outcome can be achieved. This should effectively break down the actions you need to take to make it happen.

Beware of confusing key results with tasks. Tasks should be generated based on key results.

For more OKR examples, check out the following guides…

Selecting an OKR alignment model that fits your company

One of the benefits of using OKRs is the alignment of objectives to high-level company objectives, to drive focus and understanding of why an objective is important to the organization as a whole.

So to see the full benefits of the OKR methodology, you’ll need to select the appropriate alignment model for your company.

In the following section, you’ll learn about two of the most common OKR alignment models.

The Full Alignment Model

The full alignment model usually appeals to corporations and large departments, integrating well with established management processes that are usually top-down.

It’s also more manageable to establish cascading OKRs in this way because employees can clearly see how goals are being aligned.

As you can see in the example above, on the top level of the company, we have the CEO or senior leadership.

On the next level of the company, we have the Director of Product and Director of Marketing. In this top-down model, their objectives will be taken directly from the key results of the CEO.

The Flexible Alignment Model

The flexible alignment model usually appeals to startups and smaller teams.

The nature of this OKR alignment inspires companies that have flexible cultures which promote agile changes and growth. While all objectives are ultimately aligned with higher level OKRs, there is no strict alignment that prevents individuals from setting personal growth OKRs.

As you can see in the example above, on the top level, the CEO has the same OKR as in the Full Alignment Model.

However, the change lies in how the OKRs are being cascaded to the next level.

Rather than creating objectives from a superior’s key results, managers can set their own department OKRs with
their own aspirations in mind as long as it aligns with the company OKRs.

Selecting a cadence for setting OKRs

OKRs are time-boxed and run for a predetermined amount of time. It’s your decision as to how long that span is.

Most organizations use a quarterly cadence, meaning every OKR runs for a three-month span. This is often seen as short-term enough that every week counts, but long enough that real progress can be made.

Selecting a cadence for updating OKRs

The OKR methodology is most successful when there is a rhythmic process attached to it.

While most organizations put in time and resources around creating OKRs, leaders should also focus on internal processes such as check-ins, 1-on-1s, and feedback loops in between to receive real-time updates as well as to provide proactive support.

How to roll-out OKRs to your company

As a leader, your job doesn’t end with selecting the OKR methodology. Communication and training are key because managers and department heads play a huge role in making the implementation of OKRs successful.

Any company that leads from the top will find manager buy-in to be extremely beneficial to the OKR roll-out process because it’s demonstrating by example.

Your managers or department heads are the best people to run your annual objectives by. Task them with drafting alternative objectives that fit the company, keeping in mind they have different departmental priorities.

At 7Geese, we recommend rolling out before a new year or quarterly cycle within your company.

Here is a quick overview of the steps you’ll need to take to roll-out OKRs for the first time…

  1. Brainstorm company OKRs with an annual plan in mind
  2. Collaborate with managers to draft their first set of department OKRs
  3. Communicate the OKR methodology to the entire company
  4. Employee draft their own OKRs
  5. Finalize OKR alignment company-wide
  6. Review individual OKRs and continue to monitor performance

We’ve included our complete checklist with explanations in our popular OKR ebook! Just click down below to get it for free.

May Chau

May is a content expert contributing to the improvement of modern performance management at 7Geese. Connect with her via may@7geese.com