Last updated 4 March 2022 ·
OKRs, objectives and key results, don’t just happen overnight! They align a well thought out business vision and strategy with daily tasks carried out across the entire organisation. When involving employees at all levels, OKRs make a big entrance and cannot be ignored! Once implemented and fully embedded into the everyday working culture of an organisation, the positive repercussions are incredible; highly aligned and engaged teams all working hard (and smart) towards a common goal, achieving accelerated results and faster business growth.
As the business leader, this all starts with you.
OKRs effectively cascade strategic focus and critical business priorities from the top of an organisation down through the ranks. Therefore, the way you approach and introduce OKRs to the wider business for implementation dramatically impacts the rate of adoption and overall success.
Here are ten steps from the experts to implement OKRs successfully in your business:
- Enlist support and understanding from your key stakeholders, especially the senior leadership team, to secure their buy-in to the theoretical OKR methodology and your business case. Share educational resources with them so they understand what OKRs are and the benefits they can bring to a business like yours. Be sure you address any challenges raised at this stage to gain their support.
- Assign an internal OKR champion who can manage the implementation of this company-wide goal-setting movement and be the go-to person for any questions. Organise training and facilitate any interactive workshops which may be helpful to improve the wider team’s understanding and overall adoption.
- Provide training for all teams in your business on the topic of OKRs, so everyone understands what they are, how to write them at any level, and how to use them on a daily basis to direct their focus. Ensure you highlight the benefits OKRs can bring at this stage, not only to the business as a whole but what it means for teams and individuals too. For example, OKRs help facilitate employee recognition and rewards.
- As the business leader, you set a clear, concise and motivational Vision. Ultimately this should be focused on where you want the business to get to within the specified timeframe (usually 6 or 12 months). The Vision acts as the foundation for all your business OKRs.
- Using the Vision, create 3 mission-critical Objectives that will lead you to achieve that Vision and then create 5 measurable Key Results per objective, which indicate progress towards achieving each objective. Once you have done that, you have your top-level business OKR plan, using the award-winning 1-3-5® structure.
- The next step is to share your 1-3-5® OKR plan with your senior leadership team, so they become aware of your intentions for the business and are given the opportunity to ask questions and really dig deep into the content.
- Then it’s time for your leadership team members to create their own 1-3-5® OKR plans using yours as a base and extracting parts most relevant to them, adding those into their plans. Some of your key results may become their objectives as the focus cascades throughout the different levels and specialist areas.
- The Senior Leaders should then work with their teams to cascade their OKR plans down to the managerial level, adapting them according to their area of specialism and level of seniority. Managers will create their own 1-3-5® OKR plans as part of this process.
- Whilst the strategic focus is cascaded from the leader throughout all teams, it’s important to allow the teams to decide how they achieve the objectives. Remember, people are most engaged with what they help create. Such autonomy inspires ownership, a desire to take action and the motivation to really make an impact.
- As your teams start working on their 1-3-5® OKR plans, make sure you don’t set and forget them by including OKR progress updates into weekly business practices and introducing a performance dashboard or leaderboard, so they remain top-of-mind for everyone. Set up drop-in sessions for anyone that requires additional training or help with their OKR plans. Make it easy for teams to give you feedback on how they feel about this business change so any areas of concern can be addressed and resolved. Open and honest communication is vital at this stage. OKRs can strengthen internal communication through visibility and transparency of roles and responsibilities.
Strategy is important, but execution is everything. Incredibly successful people focus on executing incredibly well - Jeff Haden.
OKRs for business growth
OKRs are growing in popularity due to their proven success felt by hugely successful businesses such as Google, helping them grow from 40 people to well over 100,000 people, LinkedIn, Spotify, Airbnb, to name a few. The award-winning 1-3-5® planning structure helps keep the amount of OKRs you set at a manageable level. It’s essential not to end up with too many OKRs, diluting your focus, spreading yourself too thin, and achieving very little.
One final word - implementing OKRs requires significant change, which can be challenging to manage at all levels, but the benefits should outweigh any resistance you may face. If your teams are empowered to succeed and encouraged to see how OKRs could benefit them directly, they are more likely to go with the change.
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change” - Albert Einstein.
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