Implementing OKRs in your team or company allows you to achieve what really matters. The challenge is how to create effective OKRs that will push performance and progress, ensuring that you get where you need to go.
What makes for great OKRs
OKRs should be tied to the company’s mission and vision in order to drive alignment and keep everyone on target. Create ambitious OKRs which are slightly further than what you think is possible. This will allow your team to accomplish more than they ever thought possible, even if they don’t achieve 100%.
Remember: OKRs are not a to-do list. OKRs force you to focus on what really matters and what the results are that you need to achieve to get there.
Two simple questions are the foundation for OKRs:
Where do we need to go? and How will we know we are getting there?
When you answer the first question, you should find your Objective (O). This is something you want to achieve, a high-level aspirational goal. It’s a qualitative milestone.
When you answer the second question, you should find your Key Results (KR). These are quantitative metrics that measure progress. They’re outcomes, not tasks.
Effective OKRs answer both of these questions. If you find that you only have the answer to one, it’s time to go back to the beginning.
The standard formula for setting great OKRs is:
“I will X as measured by Y.”
Replace the X with your objective and the Y with your key result(s). If this makes sense when you put it all together, then you’re on the right track!
Objectives are what you would want to accomplish. Take your time to think about and reflect on the company vision, mission, and strategy before getting started. You should be brainstorming on a team level about ambitious objectives that will contribute to the progress of the organizational OKRs. In the case of individual OKRs, they can contribute directly to company OKRs, or to Team OKRs. Focus on creating a maximum of 3 objectives to be the focus for a defined time period.
Example: “Create the world’s best marketplace for second-hand clothing”.
Great Objectives are:
✓ Bold yet achievable
✓ Qualitative - not measurable
Creating Key Results
Key Results are how you will measure the progress on your Objectives. In order to achieve a rather unmeasurable aspirational goal, you need measurable outcomes so you can conclude whether or not you’ve reached your Objectives. When setting Key Results, make sure to specify the metric being used ($, %, #, task completion) as well as a start and target value. Set 3 to 5 Key Results for each Objective that are ambitious yet still achievable.
Example: “Attract 300 new sellers to the platform in Q1”
Great Key Results are:
✓ Specific and time-bound
✓ Ambitious but realistic
✓ Quantitative - measurable and verifiable
Putting this into practice:
Here are some Team specific OKRs examples to inspire and guide you:
Objective: Reduce employee turnover
Key Result 1: Organize 2 team building events in Q1 and Q2
Key Result 2: Conduct bi-annual satisfaction surveys
Key Result 3: Introduce new flexible hours policy by February
Even though the Key Results are not percentages or specific numbers, they’re still specific outcomes that are time-bound.
Objective: Supercharge growth in the US market
Key Result 1: Increase US sales calls by BDRs to 3600 per BDR in Q1
Key Result 2: Hire 2 account executives in US office
Key Result 3: Generate 100 SQLs from the 3 on-site events we’re attending in Q1
The Objective here is inspirational yet achievable. Key Results are very specific and time-bound.
Objective: Drive significant lead generation with email marketing
Key Result 1: Generate 50% of MQLs through the bi-weekly newsletter
Key Result 2: Increase click rates of “Abandoned Cart” flow by 15%
Key Result 3: Increase open rates of “Welcome” flow to 35%
Key Results are very specific. If this is a quarterly Objective a time frame is not necessary for every Key Result.
Objective: Successfully launch V2 of Product X
Key Result 1: Get 10,000 new sign-ups in Q1
Key Result 2: Reach 75% adoption from current users
Key Result 3: Keep the number of critical bugs reported by customers below 2 per release
This could be a short-term OKR or a long-term. Their Key Results are very specific and are measurable.
Objective: Create an award-winning and customer-pleasing support service
Key Result 1: Increase customer satisfaction to 90%
Key Result 2: Answer all support tickets in less than 6 hours
Key Result 3: Reach CS team satisfaction to 8.7 stars on team average (8.7/10)
The Objective is very high-level yet still specific and achievable. Key Results are a good indicator if you are moving in the right direction.