The start of a new year is the best time to begin using OKR goals (Objectives and Key Results), or to ensure you’re achieving the best possible results through your existing OKRs. As you begin preparations for next year, use this checklist to effectively use OKRs and make 2017 your company’s best year yet.
For a refresher, check out how Google uses OKRs to consistently achieve their goals.
1. MOST IMPORTANT: Do Weekly 1-on-1 Check-Ins with 2-way Closed-Loop Feedback Where You Get Status Updates on OKR Goals
This is by far the most important part in having company-wide adoption and success with OKRs. Everything else pretty much doesn’t matter if you’re not doing this. We call this the Pulse OKR.
What you do is you meet with your directs once per week – no exceptions – to ensure you understand the continual progress is being made on completing about 8%-10% of the OKR progress weekly. There are 12 weeks each quarter so that’s your roughly 1/12th of progress that should be made each week.
Weekly cadence is critical for many reasons including that it gives you ability to course-correct in time, before it’s too late and before a bottleneck becomes a major and uncontrollable problem.
Finally, it must be a 2-way closed-loop feedback. Your people need the feedback from the manager on the direction, on how to attain progress, on any course-correcting that must be done. If it’s 1-way and your employees just report to you on their progress then that doesn’t help them at all and thus won’t help you either because they won’t attain their OKRs consistently (plus the adoption of your OKR process will be negligible at your company).
Be a data-driven manager! A weekly pulse report is where employees can show progress, identify red flags, and give you feedback on what they need most at that moment.
2. Your OKR Goals are Not Tasks
It’s probably sufficient to read this article – “WARNING: OKR Goals are not Tasks!” but the key point here is that goals are far more than just some activity which is what tasks are. Goals are about results and outcomes over a span of the quarter. They are measurable and quantifiable. Remember Peter Drucker said: “don’t confuse activity with results” and tasks are activity while goals are results.
3. Hit the 70/30 Ratio
Negotiate OKRs so that 70% come from the bottom-up, while 30% cascade down from management to ensure commitment and buy-in at the individual level, as well as alignment with top-level goals.
4. Have a Limit of only 1-3 Objectives and 1-3 Results
Have no more than 1-3 Objectives with 1-3 Key Results each, per quarter. This gives you a laser focus on the most important priorities and adequate time to complete each.
However, 3-5 Objectives and 3-5 KRs are the typically suggested limit. We recommend 1-3 at least when you start out.
5. Designate a DRI (Directly Responsible Individual)
To guarantee accountability, a DRI “owns” the OKRs and is responsible for overseeing them and summarizing findings at end of each quarter, as well as offering ideas for next quarter.
6. Balance Operational and Aspirational OKR Goals
You may hear that all OKRs should be aspirational and that hitting 70% of them is OK. But in the real world, you actually mostly will see “operational” OKR goals and maybe 10%-30% will be moonshot OKRs. Keep in mind that Operational goals can still be stretch goals but they shouldn’t be moonshots (or aspirational as some call them).
7. Use Action Verbs
Be precise with language when phrasing OKRs – use clarity and actionable words to eliminate confusion.
8. Allow a 2-3-Week Grace Period
Do this at the beginning of the quarter, especially if OKRs are brand-new to your company – you’ll still allow for 10% fulfillment each week for OKRs to be completed by end of quarter.
9. Start now!
CEOs must begin planning OKRs a few weeks prior to every new quarter. During the time leading up, you must meet with executives to document high-level quarterly goals and develop Key Results, share OKRs with the Directly Responsible Individuals (DRIs), distribute them to teams so they can complete their OKRs, share these with executives and individuals, and have individuals finalize their OKRs.
Are you using the tips listed above? Atiim’s OKR Goals Management software makes it easy to prepare for a new year – and continue executing your objectives throughout the year and beyond.
What do you do to make OKRs effective in your organization? Answer in comments below.
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!