10 minute read – Last updated: February 26, 2020

Leaders share How OKRs Create Focus, Alignment & Motivation

We asked a group of experts “Do you use OKRs at your company?” —and what advice they have for other companies.

Table of Contents

Leaders shared with us why they love OKRs, and how they use them:

How to communicate company vision and strategy

We run our organization based on EOS®, the Entrepreneurial Operating System, a concept given by Gino Wickman in his book, “Traction.” It provides a complete set of simple concepts and practical tools that have helped us in getting complete control over our business, manage it and grow it.

The EOS model is based on six key components:

1. Vision: It gives everyone a clear idea about your company’s objectives and your plan to attain them.

2. People: Making sure that you put the right people in the right seats.

3. Data: Defining certain metrics to get a handful of numbers that matter to your company

4. Issues: How to solve issues efficiently using (Identify, Discuss and Solve) approach.

5. Process: Systemizing your business by identifying and documenting the core processes that define the way to run your business.

6. Traction: It teaches how to instill accountability in your company to achieve your goals. Every person in your company is responsible for certain numbers which are easily measurable.

To be successful, companies need to define and align these core components. It really puts emphasis on building processes, making sure everyone is on the same page regarding the company’s vision and is aware of their individual goals.

When everyone is aware of their objectives and what’s expected of them, it creates a sense of accountability and gets things done.

Brett helling, CEO of Ridester and GigWorker.com

If you are able to introduce this result-oriented culture in your organization, there is nothing that can stop you from being successful.

We are currently applying the concepts learned from this book to our startup and seeing tremendous results.

How to keep your company focussed

We use a set of OKRs at Better Proposals, but only for the company as a whole. It rarely happens that we set them for a separate department. For example, some of the OKRs we use include:

  • Total new customers
  • Churn rate (how many people unsubscribed)
  • Total conversion rate
  • Organic traffic growth

We don’t use OKRs as a figure to keep our employees and teams in check. We use these OKRs to check on our performance and to ensure that we are on the right track to achieve our goals. 

My advice for others who want to use OKRs is to keep them optimistic and set them high. If you put them just above what you can actually achieve, you may end up harming your own motivation to do a better job and your entire team will do just enough to meet their numbers.

>How to create purpose and direction

About six months ago we started implementing OKRs within the marketing team at Appetiser before rolling them out to the entire company of 100 people. Prior to this, our prioritization was task-based with no clear direction. Objectives and key results gave everyone a destination to work towards, a newfound sense of purpose and really helped everyone better prioritize their work. 

We integrated OKRs with our task management systems so that we can track progress towards these OKR’s in real-time. From there, we started assigning Objective Leads and Key Result leads so that each team member can take ownership of specific company objectives.

My advice to any company that wants to implement this methodology is to first and foremost to trial it in one department. This way any hiccups that come along the way (which they will) can be smoothed out in a smaller group before rolling it out company-wide.

How to create intrinsic motivation in teams

We’ve seen some great results, courtesy of implementing team and individual OKRs each quarter.

Marine Klein, Head of Digital Marketing of Commusoft

Generally, we establish a few measurable goals (e.g. increase the number of visitors to the website) then divide each goal into tasks that each team member can contribute directly. We build a spreadsheet together that has the main goals and a timeline spreading the 3 months of a quarter, then add the individual tasks and update the spreadsheet with monthly results. Following up on the visitor number goal, we’d create tasks like writing 10 articles for a content marketer, creating 100 social media posts for a social media marketer, and so on and so forth. 

The best results we’ve achieved by using OKRs aren’t necessarily numerical goals but something much harder to quantify: improving teamwork and boosting intrinsic motivation.

Marine Klein, Head of Digital Marketing of Commusoft

Since everyone feels like they have a clear task ahead and a direct impact on the team’s quarterly goals, they’re a lot more likely to stay focused and work together.

How to create a culture accountability

I work for a company that uses OKRs to measure individual and company success objectively. Some of the best practices I’ve observed:

1. Make them objective: When establishing OKRs for roles or projects, make them objective and clearly measurable by anyone. This ensures they cannot be manipulated by the person reporting to the OKR and that performance is measured correctly.

2. Make them public: Doing so allows for accountability as everyone can observe the exact metrics a person aims to accomplish.

3. Make them specific: Making OKRs specific allows for objectivity and accountability for the person. It also drives desired outcomes when everyone can agree to specific elements of an OKR.

How to show employees their personal impact on the business’ success

OKRs are critical criteria for measuring and calibrating performance and productivity. It defines the appraisal and promotions for performance reviews every year and for continuous and comprehensive evaluation (CCE) from time to time. OKR transparently lays down expectations for parties on both sides of the equation- the employees and employers. It creates awareness about the goals individuals are striving towards, what resources need to be leveraged to achieve them, and what results and impact the efforts are leading to. 

OKRs are process and result-driven model of role clarity optimization and individual KRAs and KPIs alignment with the organizational vision.

When you leverage OKRs, individuals are better able to understand how their everyday efforts culminate into the realization of organizational objectives and add to the business bottom line.

Siddhartha Gupta, CEO of Mercer | Mettl

The OKRs establish the impact of individual efforts which give meaning, value, and purpose to work done inspiring and motivating professionals to assign professional objectives as personal achievements.

OKRs are mutually negotiated and discussed at the start of each year between managers and employees. These OKRs are continuously mapped and revisited from time to time if the OKRs are difficult or too easy to achieve owing to a number of factors like higher market demand, the higher performance by the individual, or lack of resources. 

Before defining OKRs for individuals, take into cognizance all data and analytical points as to why those OKRs are justified, the resources against which those OKRs could be achieved by Individuals, and employee agreement.

Want to learn more about OKRs?

Download this FREE ebook today and learn what a great Objective and Key Result (OKR) is, how to write them, as well as what an easy rollout process looks like so you can get started with your team.