OKR you ready to raise your game?

Do you aim high? Many people set their sights below their capabilities and play it safe, which is fine for some but just not good enough for others. Even stretch goals need to be set at a reachable level, albeit perfectly positioned to encourage high performance. When it comes to setting OKRs and sticking to them, there are a few factors that need assessing to fully decide if OKRs are right for a business.

Implementing OKRs within a business requires a certain degree of organisational change in terms of processes, culture and habits. Ultimately, they will alter how each individual approaches their daily work. OKRs can be set at a company, team or individual level. An individual can create OKRs and start working towards these almost immediately, however, this will have little impact on the organisation as a whole. To experience the full benefits of working with OKRs they should ideally be set at an organisational level.

However, setting company OKRs does take time. To successfully implement OKRs throughout a business they should be established at the top of an organisation and then cascaded effectively throughout the SLT and other teams, adapting the detail and key measures at every level. Check out our blog on 8 steps to cascade your company vision effectively. Once implemented and fully established, this performance management process can be extremely effective to achieve the desired results. Take well-known brands such as Google, Intel, Airbnb, Spotify and LinkedIn, they all started using OKRs to accelerate growth and look at them now, they have truly thrived! This stuff works!

Before we get too carried away, there are 8 questions worth assessing initially to ensure your business is ready to introduce OKRs:

1. Is the business leader on board with OKRs?

It’s vitally important that OKRs are supported and actively promoted by the CEO and C suite executives within a business for them to be a success. As previously mentioned, OKRs should be initially set by the business leader and then cascaded throughout various teams and amended at every level. Adopting the idea of management by objectives and long term goal setting is much easier if the team of C suite executives already have a more outcome-focused mindset.

2. Do you have a clearly defined company mission and/or vision?

Start with why the company exists and what is its purpose, then think about how you would like the company to progress in future and where you would like it to be in 5 years. This will lead you to your ultimate vision. This should be something ambitious, inspiring and motivational, which forms the foundation of your overall business strategy from which OKRs can then be formed.

3. Are you prepared to allocate time to carefully plan out your OKRs and review them regularly?

Objectives refer to the ‘what’ you want to achieve, which should be inspiring and include a degree of stretch. Key Results address the ‘how’ you are going to achieve these objectives and are usually quantitative and measurable in their progress. Both represent time-bound, measurable goals. OKRs should be reviewed weekly or bi-weekly to avoid that ‘set and forget’ mentality creeping in. They can work well in facilitating 121 meetings and annual performance reviews as progress in performance is more clearly identifiable.

4. Are you able to appoint an internal ‘champion’ to manage the implementation of OKRs in the business?

Managing the rollout of OKRs within a business requires planning and expertise. It’s important to make sure people are supported in their development of OKRs. New habits are required to ensure progress is logged and OKRs are updated on time. Check out our blog on how to drive positive change in your business

5. Are you currently working with measurable goals or KPIs?

This will make things somewhat easier as the business will be familiar with performance measurement. However, there could be some confusion around the difference between the two. Check out our blog on KPIs vs OKRs

6. Are there any underlying issues that could impede the introduction of new business processes?

We touch on this a little more in our blog, Why OKRs Fail, but ultimately it’s about timing. Is it the right time to introduce a new process into your business? Whilst the CEO may be keen to fast track the growth trajectory, there may be other factors limiting a successful rollout.

7. Will your company adapt to a culture of transparency and trust?

The nature of OKRs means teams and individuals will become aware of what others are working on and key performance information such as turnover or market share etc are communicated throughout the entire business. To benefit from working effectively with OKRs and enable all teams in the business to work towards common goals, it’s fundamental to make this information available to them. It creates transparency, allowing people to see how their work directly impacts the business performance. Some businesses however may not adjust well to such visibility of roles and responsibilities. We find it can empower individuals, increasing accountability and engagement whilst reducing silos as there is a wider level of understanding of the bigger picture. OKRs stimulate trust in this respect, but they also shift the focus towards the actual work being output by individuals instead of how many hours they sit at their desk.

8. Are you ambitious?

Ultimately, implementing an OKR performance management system will require you to clearly define your business vision and overall strategy. If your vision is aspiring, focusing on achieving ambitious profit goals or vastly improving market share for example, then OKRs provide the perfect framework to help you do this. However, if you are happy simply maintaining business performance year to year, then OKRs may not be the best choice for you.

Conclusion

So there you have it, our 8 questions to ask yourself before implementing OKRs into your business. If you are just starting on your OKR journey you might find some of our other blogs interesting, in particular how to enhance your business performance with one simple habit or 8 tips to align and engage distributed teams to maximise focus on key strategic objectives.

OKRs should become part of everyday life within an organisation and set the direction and focus for all teams to achieve the overall business vision. They provide the perfect platform to facilitate 121 meetings and annual reviews, making it clear where someone is up to in terms of performance to targets and overall workload. However, we recognise it can present a learning curve when implementing OKRs company-wide. At Reclaro, we offer bespoke coaching with all our new customers and their teams to cover the 1-3-5® OKR methodology in detail and offer support during onboarding and beyond. Once companies implement OKRs in their business one thing’s for sure, they never look back and say ‘I wish we hadn’t done this’ simply because, like running, you never regret it once you’ve done it, as long as it’s the right exercise for you. You never regret doing something that moves you closer to achieving your goals. Are you learning to achieve your goals?

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

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