When first implementing OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) many of our clients have difficulty in identifying the most effective initial Objectives. “How do we set the right corporate goals” is one of the most frequently asked questions of our Customer Success Managers during the onboarding process. In this article, we’ll review the Atiim methodology for setting, monitoring, and managing top corporate objectives.
To start, we are adherents to the Superpowers of OKRs as detailed by John Doerr in his NY Times bestseller, “Measure What Matters:”
- Focus and Commitment to Priorities
- Align and Connect for teamwork
- Track for accountability
- Stretch for amazing
First, Ask the Right Questions for Inspiration
For success when using OKR’s, attention must be placed on setting the right goals and alignment. The questions senior leadership should ask when setting the company’s overarching goals are:
- Where do we want to go?
- How do we want to get there?
- How will we know if we made it?
Planning begins with your company’s Mission, Vision Statement, and Strategy. Are your initial goals consistent with your Mission and corporate values? Will they take you towards your Vision of the future? And, do they adhere to and compliment your Strategic Pillars?
Do these initial OKRs address the most important things you can be doing to move your organization in the desired direction for the next three, six, twelve months?
This process ensures you have a solid foundation to steer your OKR creation. From here, you can start to think through the pillars of success which will drive your company forward, tying into both strategic focus areas and business functions.
Setting the Right OKRs
Once the team has identified your top initiatives, it’s essential to develop the right Objectives and supporting Key Results. Let’s review the process for stating OKRs: Objectives (Os), answer What is to be accomplished. Objectives should be significant, action-oriented, qualitative, and indicate the direction for the company.
Key Results (KRs), finish the statement; We want to accomplish the Objective “as Measured by” the Key Result. KRs measure HOW we get to the Objective. Key Results are quantitative, typically include numbers, and should follow the SMART approach, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. When setting KRs think of KPIs.
Once your strategy and initial OKRs have been determined, there should be a mix of both top-down and bottom-up goal setting approaches employed. We suggest you focus on no more than three to five specific top company objectives. Be ambitious, stretch for amazing with where you want to go, keeping in mind that these goals should aim higher than business-as-usual tasks.
Focus and Commit to Top Corporate Objectives
A two-year Deloitte study found that no single factor has more impact on corporate performance than “clearly defined goals that are written down and shared freely. Goals create alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction.” When communicating these initial OKRs to your people, we think you should explain the “why” as well as the “what.” Why are you adopting OKRs? Why now? What business issue will they address?
Senior leadership’s commitment to these top objectives and the OKR methodology create a powerful momentum to drive execution.
Alignment and Connectivity for Teamwork
Atiim cloud-based software allows you to view the hierarchy of OKR’s within your organization. These top corporate objectives can then be cascaded down to department levels since each department will most likely own at least one contribution that directly impacts the progress of a top company objective.
Have teams discuss ways that they can help contribute to these objectives and create their own bottom-up alignment. By giving teams the freedom to brainstorm their own contributions, they can tap into their valuable insight into their systems and operations, which creates stronger commitment and buy-in from those teams and individuals.
Track and Monitor for Accountability
At Atiim we believe the critical role of CFRs (Conversation, Feedback, and Recognition), is in tracking, monitoring, and managing performance. Regularly scheduled Check-Ins allow you to monitor the health of objectives across your business to focus teams on problem areas and keep them on track.
Managers access information on OKR updates from the individuals on their teams and provide them with the feedback and recognition they need to maintain focus and drive towards success. Obstacles and roadblocks that might impede execution are identified and resolved in real-time.
At the end of each quarter, have department leaders gather insights from their teams and direct reports. Ask questions such as “Should we aim higher?” “Have priorities shifted?” “Do we need to tweak OKR’s for the new quarter?”. Regardless of how these questions are answered, remember setting and achieving OKR’s will be a continuous cycle that will drive continued improvement in execution of strategy.
We hope this brief overview of the Atiim approach to goal setting was helpful to you. If you need help with examples of the right goals, please feel free to reach out to us.
Are you a CEO responsible for strategy? Do you set strategy, goals, and track performance? 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!