OKRs – Don’t let your eagerness get the better of you

by Roger Longden | Jan 29, 2017

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Objectives and Key Results (OKRs for short) are changing how companies define and communicate success. Why not have a read through our free beginners guide to OKRs to get more information on how you can align and grow your company.

So you’re all fired up and ready to get going with Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) in your business. Great! That book you’ve read, video you’ve watched or great tip you’ve received has convinced you that OKRs are worth a try. This will especially be the case if you could really use some focus in your teams.

So, how do you make sure that you don’t fall at the first hurdle?

Fully embracing the OKR process can be transformative for a business. However, like most change, they can come with a few risks. The first you will likely encounter is that you become disheartened with your initial attempt because it doesn’t go to plan. Transformation doesn’t arrive overnight. It will take time for new routines and habits to bed in, for people to get comfortable with the increased accountability (and the fact that it’s not going to be used to beat them up) and for you to set OKRs with just the right level of challenge.

In the true spirit of the OKR process, the right thing to do is simply learn and adapt for your next attempt.

Ask these questions to analyse your OKRs

  • Did everyone achieve 100%? In that case, the next OKRs probably need to be a little more challenging.
  • Did people not update on progress? Chances are more work needs to be done to build OKR discussions into the regular weekly meetings (which you do have right?)
  • Were people unsure where to focus their time? Maybe you need to be a bit clearer on your priorities, perhaps even have fewer (but bigger) OKRs next time around?
  • Maybe it was difficult to judge if some OKRs had been achieved? Try thinking about how you define key results, and make sure there’s a quantifiable (and relevant) measure in it.

Whatever you do, don’t let your eagerness carry you away. Be realistic with your first attempt – keep it simple and clear in what you are asking from your teams. My tip would be to start people off with just one OKR, and get them used to reviewing, forecasting and scoring it. Before you know it, they will be asking. “why are we not using OKRs for all the other important stuff too?”

OKRs represent a performance management methodology which connects the work of individual employees to your company’s overall strategy. Looking to learn more? Read our blog ‘What are OKRS and how can they help my business?’

Download your Beginner's Guide to OKRs