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Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 30 April 2022 ·

Six key considerations for an effective OKR training program

If you’ve ever wondered how to create an effective OKR training program, this article is for you. It contains six essential considerations on designing and running a training program that will get employees up to speed quickly, improve efficiency, and meet your business goals.

A structured training program dramatically helps reduce errors, build rapport, and improve teamwork. Whilst OKRs can be transformational for many businesses, the initial implementation, as with any other new processes or procedures, requires significant business change, and change can be challenging.

Six components to an effective OKR training program:

1. Create a positive environment

If employees enter into any training exercise with a negative mindset, you will have a much harder job turning this around. Ensure you position the training positively, including some perks (everyone loves a free breakfast!), plenty of breaks and communicate the outcome in terms of their expectations after the session. Communication is key. Create an open and honest environment where employees are free to ask questions along the way and get additional support if they feel they need it. If possible, it helps to go off-site for detailed training sessions in a suitable environment that stimulates innovation and an openness to new ideas.

2. Define the topic and communicate why it is important

In my experience, many companies design their OKR training around the assumption that the program is only for the managers or execs. It is not. In the context of OKRs, if the goal is to improve the organisation’s performance, OKRs are for everyone.

Ensure everyone understands precisely what OKRs are and why the business has decided to implement them. A critical step in creating an OKR training program is understanding the basics of OKRs. Organisations should be able to provide employees with a specific definition of what OKRs are, how they’re used, and some of their primary benefits. Employees should know what OKRs are and what an effective OKR looks like. Providing a bank of OKR examples can help.

3. Get into the detail

a. Review objectives

Spend significant time talking the team through the top-level OKRs that the business leader has set so they understand them in detail, and in doing this, they become fully aware of the intentions of the business. Follow this up by showing how these top-level OKRs cascade throughout the senior leadership team and how each team member adapts them according to their specific area of specialism. This will enable the wider team members and frontline workers to see how their manager’s OKRs will filter down to their level. They then identify how their work could influence these key focus areas and the bigger picture. Communicating the strategy in this way dramatically increases employee engagement and motivation as they see the work others are putting in and feel empowered to make a difference themselves.

b. Attribute goals to specific areas

OKRs provide a structured way to ensure everyone is working towards achieving a common goal for the business. Within the OKR training sessions, encourage break out groups and invite each of them to interpret the top-level OKR plan and how this would then filter down to them, offering ideas as to how they could make an impact within their areas.

It may seem obvious, but it is crucial to identify the specific person(s) responsible for executing each objective or key result. In addition, it is also good practice to be as straightforward as possible. “Increase employee satisfaction” may be too vague. It is simply a matter of answering a few questions: Who is responsible? What is their objective? How is their objective measured? What are the key results?

4. Assign tasks and consult with individuals

Once employees begin to consider how they could positively impact these business objectives within their roles, they can start creating their own OKR plans, and specific key results can be assigned to them. This encourages them to take ownership of their set objectives and key results, becoming accountable for their progress. For example, the marketing team OKR plan will contain critical actions in social media, content, advertising, PR, events, etc. So these should be divided up among the most suitable team members. At this stage, it may be advantageous to conduct individual sessions to assess their level of understanding and happiness with the tasks being allocated to them.

5. Set a clear cadence

OKRs provide improved visibility and transparency of roles and responsibilities within a team and the wider business. It’s essential to establish a cadence of meetings and progress check-ins to keep the momentum going and ensure you are on track to achieve your team goals. OKRs can help create a culture where employees ask for more regular 121’s so they can assess their progress and move forward faster.

6. Invite feedback

Feedback is a gift that enables constant improvement of processes and procedures. To find out how your OKR training has been received, try using an anonymous feedback tool or survey sent out after each session. Equally, the OKR cycles themselves rely on feedback to assess what worked well and what could be improved. So this one is a double-sided consideration. The success of the OKR cycle itself will suggest a certain level of effectiveness concerning the OKR training.

Ensure the lasting effect

One final consideration is that it’s important to utilise strategies to ensure your employees retain the information they have received within the OKR training. Conducting drop-in support sessions can be beneficial for those who need some further help understanding the OKR process or working on their assigned OKR plan. For further advice on this, check out our blog OKRs - How to set and not forget

If you are looking for a simple way to plan out your OKRs and monitor team progress, performance and achievements, the Reclaro 1-3-5® OKR software and expertise provides a highly effective way to do this. Find out more or get in touch at hello@reclaro.com.

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