Last updated 25 October 2022 ·
OKRs, Objectives and Key Results provide a performance management structure with a framework for setting measurable goals and tracking progress. It has been around for decades, but it gained popularity in Silicon Valley during the dot-com boom of the 1990s.
Since then, OKRs have been adopted by companies of all sizes, in all industries, and all over the world.
If your company is thinking about implementing OKRs, or if you’re already using them but think you’re not getting the most out of them, maybe it’s time to step up your game.
Here are eight strategies that will help you improve productivity in your business with OKRs:
Eight ways to improve productivity using OKRs
1. Set SMART or FAST goals
The first step to setting effective OKRs is ensuring your objectives are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound or FAST: Frequently discussed, ambitious in scope, specific and transparent. If your goals don’t meet these criteria, they’re probably not very effective.
So, take the time to sit down and brainstorm your objectives. Make sure they’re specific enough that you’ll be able to measure whether or not you’ve achieved them, and make sure they’re realistic and relevant to your company’s mission.
2. Involve everyone in the process
OKRs are not something that should be dictated entirely from the top down. For them to be successful, everyone in the company needs to join the process.
When setting goals, involve as many people as possible in the discussion. This will help ensure that the goals are relevant to the company and not just to a small group of people.
Also, ensure that everyone understands the OKR system and how it works. The last thing you want is for people to feel like they’re being forced to do something they don’t understand.
3. Hold team members accountable for meeting their objectives
Aside from involving everyone in the goal-setting process, it’s also essential to hold team members accountable for meeting their objectives.
The best way to do this is to have regular check-ins with each team member to see how they’re doing. These check-ins should be informal and non-threatening; the goal is to get a pulse on how things are going and to offer help if needed.
4. Focus on continuous improvement
A lot of businesses adopt the OKR framework to improve productivity. However, they don’t realise that OKRs need to be focused on continuous improvement to be effective.
One of the benefits of setting objectives is identifying areas where employees are excelling and where they need to improve and then addressing those areas. Simply setting objectives and then forgetting about them is not going to do anything to improve productivity.
Every business’s goal should be continuous improvement, and that goal should be reflected in its OKRs. Companies can only improve productivity in a meaningful way by focusing on constant improvement.
5. Encourage risk-taking and innovation
The main benefit of using OKRs is to improve employee productivity, and achieve high performance and faster growth. That can only be done if people are willing to take risks and innovate.
To encourage this, businesses need to create an environment where it’s okay to fail fast and move on. This means that team members should feel comfortable taking risks and trying new things, even if they’re unsure if it will work out. OKRs facilitate better decision-making as the overall vision, and goals of the business are shared widely amongst all teams.
It’s only through taking risks and innovating that businesses can find new ways to do more productive things.
6. Review and adjust objectives regularly
Another key to making OKRs work is to regularly review and adjust goals where necessary. This ensures that the objectives remain relevant to the business vision, are achievable with stretch, and that all progress is tracked effectively.
Additionally, it allows businesses to adapt their objectives in response to market or operations changes. The pace of change in some companies can be very high. Well-structured OKRs ensure they are always moving forward and progressing toward their goals.
7. Celebrate successes and learn from failures
These practices are a vital part of any successful OKR strategy. When a team achieves its objectives and key results, it’s important to take the time to celebrate the victory. This helps build morale and keep everyone focused on the task.
Similarly, when a team doesn’t meet its objectives, it’s crucial to take the time to learn from the experience. What went wrong? What could be done differently next time?
By taking the time to celebrate successes and learn from failures, teams can continue to boost their productivity and reach their goals.
8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
The final strategy for making OKR work for you is to communicate, communicate, communicate. This means keeping everyone in the loop on goal setting, progress tracking, and any changes being made along the way.
The best way to do this is to use an online tool that allows you to share information quickly and efficiently. For example, you could use project management software or OKR software such as Reclaro’s award-winning 1-3-5® OKR software. No matter what method you use, the important thing is ensuring everyone is on the same page.
OKRs are a robust performance management system but aren’t a magic bullet. To get the most out of using OKRs, you must clearly understand how they work and what it takes to make them work most effectively in your business. Following the abovementioned strategies can set your team up for success and boost your company’s productivity.
Download this free resource - The OKR Builder™ that the team at Reclaro created and learn how to start writing compelling OKRs that cascade seamlessly throughout your business to help you achieve high performance and faster growth.