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Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 28 February 2022 ·

Growth-focused OKRs for new leaders: Making an instant and positive impact

Expectations in a new leadership role

New business leaders, CEOs and directors are tasked with implementing positive and measurable change. To do this effectively, many successful leaders choose OKRs (Objective and Key Results) to help filter the company’s vision throughout the business.

For those new to a leadership role, it can be difficult to find a structured approach that is easily implemented (particularly when you don’t yet know much about the business). This is why we’ve collated our experts’ knowledge of all things Objectives and Key Results to help you make a positive impact within your new business.

Why should leaders use OKRs?

For leaders, goal setting, particularly with OKRs, ensures the right areas are prioritised. The most efficient, effective and productive changes follow structured and well laid out plans.

OKRs allow businesses to:

  • Measure progress and growth
  • Cascade objectives throughout the business
  • Get everyone in the business working towards a common goal
  • Allocate specific goals to different teams
  • Execute the business plan at pace

How should new leaders set their OKRs?

For new business leaders, one of the key elements of Objective and Key Results (OKR) setting is understanding how the goals you set will be actionable in your business.

Understanding your team

Before creating your OKRs, you must understand and evaluate the teams to which this strategic focus will be passed. Are the teams equipped to handle the workload? Are the OKRs clear, concise, specific, timely and achievable, albeit with stretch? Is the day-to-day activity within these teams as expected? Maybe some jobs you thought would lie within a sales team actually lie within an account management team. It’s essential that you fully understand your existing teams’ structure and skill set to ensure that your goals are achievable, measurable and aspirational.

Speaking to other members of senior management is also an important step. Understanding what motivates your team can be vital, and you might find that there are already incentives in place that favour (or oppose) your goal-setting plan, which could impact your strategy.

How does your vision match that of the company?

Any goals or OKRs that you apply as a new business leader must align with the company’s vision. It seems obvious, but in speaking with other decision-makers you can find out what the previous objectives were that the company was working towards, as well as how they were received by all teams and the rate of progress that was made towards them.

If you start working for a business and immediately change a goal that some teams are close to achieving, it can negatively impact morale. Not only that, but it can render the work done towards that end goal redundant and impact productivity.

We talk about setting milestones so that you can feel success along the way, maintain progress, and ensure there is a clear endpoint. This makes it important that you don’t remove existing goals immediately without first analysing the situation, to minimise the potentially negative impact of your changes.

How to use OKRs and the award-winning 1-3-5® method

Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) allow leaders and businesses to create measurable goals that aid growth and enhance productivity.

This popular goal-setting methodology is used to cascade objectives throughout an organisation, filtering the strategic priorities through senior and middle management.

In its simplest form, the business leader will set three mission-critical Objectives. These top-level objectives, which are the strategic priorities for the business, are then split out into five measurable Key Results each. These key results act as specific stepping stone goals which indicate progress is being made towards achieving each of the objectives. The cascading nature of OKRs means that the top-level key results could then become a lower-level objective.

Try creating some of your own OKRs using our free interactive workbook - The OKR Builder™.

The 1-3-5® method

A popular approach to setting effective OKRs that cascade perfectly throughout various teams is the 1-3-5® planning methodology.

1 x crystal-clear Vision for the business.

3 x mission-critical Objectives that are key to the success of that vision.

5 x measurable Key Results (or goals) for each of the three objectives.

These key results set by senior management will allow teams within the business to take those relevant to their work and create their own OKRs that complement and contribute to the 1 Vision of the company. It’s an excellent way of creating a cohesive approach to goal-setting.

Conclusion: How OKRs help new leaders make an impact

Here’s a round-up of the important considerations for new leaders to make when they approach OKRs for the first time in a new business:

  • The overall vision of the company
  • Previous targets and incentives offered
  • The company structure and the teams involved
  • The workload and skillsets of those teams
  • Measurable and achievable OKRs
  • Execution of a good goal-setting strategy

If you have gone a step further and bought a business or merged with another business, this blog offers advice on how to get it right within the first 90 days post takeover.

Alternatively, if you would like to find out more about this topic, please reach out to us directly at hello@reclaro.com, and we will be happy to provide all the help and guidance you need.

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