Alignment Using Key Results Ownership

How to Gain Alignment Using Ownership of Key Results

Organizational alignment is top of mind with today’s CEO. In this article, we’ll illustrate how OKRs, and Key Results in particular, can create alignment and cultivate employee engagement at every level.

In a recent study, over 40% of CEO’s globally indicated failure to align as their number one challenge. And rightly so, as only a small percentage of employee’s can articulate the company’s primary goals and how their position contributes to those goals.

In today’s environment, the company with the best people and the best teams wins. Since the performance of your company is inextricably linked to the performance of your people you need an aligned, engaged, highly motivated workforce.

How OKRs Contribute to Alignment

A recent Deloitte study found that no single factor has more impact on alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction than “clearly defined goals that are written down and shared freely.” At its core, that is what OKRs do. They define the Objective, the “what” that needs to be accomplished. And the Key Results answers the “how”. “How” will we measure performance against the Objective, “how” will we know once we’ve achieved the Objective.

These “clearly defined goals” are cascaded through the organization. The CEO’s growth Objective may be measured by a sales Key Result for his VP of Sales. And, the SVP’s Key Result is in turn supported by a contributing Key Result for his direct reports, the three Regional Sales Directors.

Obviously, the sales target is a top-down OKR. But throughout the process, there is the latitude for bottom-up input. Perhaps the Sales Rep may know he needs to close three new customers to achieve his share of the goal. That can be an example of bottom-up input into an individual Key Result.

Bottom-up goal setting has the added advantage of the collective wisdom of the team.

Key Results – Milestones and Metrics

Once the goal/Objective is determined and clearly articulated the “as measured by” phase of setting Key Results begins. KRs may be expressed as either a “Metric” or a “Milestone”. Either option works, provided that the KR is, in fact, measurable and time-bound. Key Results are not projects or tasks!

A “Metric” may be expressed as a target value and a unit of measure; dollars, percentage, conversions, etc. “Metrics” track quantitative outcomes designed to gauge success towards your Objective.

A “Milestone” is often used to convert a binary outcome into a Key Result. “Milestones” can be key steps or a measure of success; development of a new APP, the roll-out of a new product, development of a new presentation.

Some people say, “if it doesn’t have a number it isn’t a Key Result.” We prefer to modify that, “if it isn’t measurable, and time-bound it isn’t a Key Result.”

Every Key Result requires an owner, a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual). It needn’t be a department head. It can be a junior level contributor, however, the owner measures and reports on progress to the Key Result.


Employees are both your most valuable resource and your greatest expense. The alignment and engagement we promised at the beginning of this article are critical to the enterprise’s execution and performance. Hopefully, we’ve illustrated how Key Results and OKR software can help you leverage technology to drive superior execution.

What else, what are some other ways Key Results contribute to performance?

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!

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