This post is about how setting and achieving goals is key to success in any field. You can set personal or professional goals, but it's important to have a system in place to track your progress and ensure that you're on the right track. That's where OKR comes in - a goal management system that can help you stay focused and motivated. This post serves as a checklist of what you need to get started with OKR!
The things you need to achieve success with OKRs
OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results and consists of three main components:
There are a few key things you need to know before getting started with OKRs:
A strategy that meets the needs of your organization
Goals that are SMART
A system for tracking progress towards OKRs regularly
First, you need to set the overall strategy of your organization. A good business strategy is one that can be adapted to any situation. It should be clear and concise, and it should make use of all the resources available to you. Most importantly, a good business strategy should be effective - it should help you reach your goals and objectives.
Second, you need to formulate your goals the right way. One popular way to set and track goals is through the use of SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Setting SMART goals can help ensure that you're on track to achieve your desired outcome. Here's an example of a SMART goal:
"We will close 10 new contracts by the end of the month"
This goal is specific - you know exactly what you're trying to achieve. It's also measurable, so you can track your progress. The goal is achievable - you know that most months you've been able to achieve somewhat around 10 contracts. It's also relevant to your overall goal of increasing sales, and it's time-bound, as it has to be done before the end of the month.
Tracking OKR progress
Last, you need a system for tracking progress. A popular method is weekly standups where each team member goes over what they've achieved in the previous week and what they're looking to achieve this week. Some teams even do daily standups to brief each other on the daily progress of those tasks.
Now, let's dive into the different components of OKRs:
Establish clear objectives to focus your team's effort. OKRs should be SMART:
OKRs are like stepping stones that lead you towards your goal; if one of the OKRs isn't practical or realistic enough, you will find yourself moving away from your goal instead of towards it. Aim high with OKRs!
Key Results how every OKR moves the needle towards achieving your goals. OKRs need to be measurable and achievable, but OKRs also need to be results-oriented. If an OKR isn't going to contribute in any way toward achieving the overarching goal, it needs to go. OKRs should not be hard for you to achieve; they can be stretch goals, but nothing that will break your back. Key Results are OKR's quotidian output - they are there to help you show how your daily progress is moving you toward the objective.
In OKRs, Initiatives are specific actions or tasks that you will undertake in order to achieve a key result. They are usually smaller and more manageable than objectives or goals and can be used to track your progress on a day-to-day basis. A great rule of thumb is to have at least one or two initiatives per key result per week, in order to make sure that you're taking specific and measurable actions toward achieving your goal.
Objective and Key Result exercises
If OKR is new for you or your company, start off with defining 3-5 OKRs and determine how and when progress will be measured and tracked. It's important to start small and grow OKR as you become more familiar with OKRs. Once you've set OKRs, determine how OKRs will be tracked and measured (ex: progress bars, weekly status updates, etc.).
Let's try and go over an OKR example:
Objective: What do you want to achieve by the end of OKR?
Key Results: How will you know if your OKR was successful? What needs to be true in order for you to confidently say that the OKR was a success?
Initiatives: What steps are necessary in order to achieve the OKRs above it? These initiatives should add up and contribute towards achieving all other OKRs before it - aim high, but keep initiatives realistic! This is where OKRs get specific. It's important to stay focused on achievable goals while staying flexible enough that OKRs can change or evolve as needed.
Here's an example of what this may look like:
Objective: Make our OKRs open and transparent
Key Result: 50% of employees can state OKRs for their department by the end of Q1
Initiative 1: Update the OKR template to make OKRs more accessible/transparent to employees
Initiative 2: Have at least one open forum where OKRs are discussed with all employees
Once you've written down your OKRs, share them with everyone on your team or keep track! Only if everyone knows what OKRs are being achieved is everyone able to contribute towards achieving them. This makes OKR a very effective goal management system - it's accessible and easy to use for anyone within your organization.
If you need tips and inspiration for how to formulate your OKRs, head over to our dedicated section of OKR examples for different companies and teams.
Setting and achieving goals is key to success in any field, and OKR (Objectives and Key Results) is a goal management system that can help you stay focused and motivated.
In this blog post, we've provided a quick checklist of what you need to get started with OKR - from establishing objectives to setting key results and initiatives. We've also included an example of how OKRs might look for your business.
Once you've created your first list of OKRs together with the team, head over and read how to score your OKRs when you evaluate progress.