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Written by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated 16 September 2022 ·

Using OKRs, Objectives and Key Results to enhance your people strategy

Amazon, Google, and Twitter are amongst the many profitable tech companies using the increasingly popular goal-setting framework of OKRs, Objectives and Key Results. Not just to enhance their people strategy but to accelerate their results and achieve tremendous growth.

Before we dive into how you can use OKRs to enhance your people strategy, let’s answer a few foundational questions.

What are OKRs?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It is an effective goal-setting system that’s reasonably simple in nature but can produce powerful results. Explained quite simply - the objectives define what you want to do, and the key results represent how you will do it.

Why are OKRs important?

Many ambitious, high-growth businesses use this OKR goal-setting framework for many reasons, some of which are listed below:

  • With divergent efforts, organisations waste a lot of time. But OKRs allow teams to become highly aligned with cohesive and well-structured working plans. Employees focus on measuring what matters and achieving the organisation’s overall vision and objectives the CEO or MD set.
  • OKRs provide a structured way to plan work and ensure SMART goal setting across functional areas is consistent throughout the entire organisation.
  • OKRs also facilitate the FAST goal-setting methodology, which refers to ensuring goals are embedded in frequent discussions, ambitious in scope, measured by specific metrics and milestones, and transparent for everyone in the organisation to see.
  • OKRs narrow down and focus organisational activities according to the leadership team’s main objectives and strategic direction.
  • OKRs can positively affect employee engagement, satisfaction and team culture through increased inclusion, accountability and transparency at all levels, leading to better results and faster growth.

Is this a failproof framework?

OKRs can fail for several reasons. Like any other process or initiative within your organisation, OKRs require full leadership team buy-in, commitment and focus to implement them effectively and reap the rewards.

What is a people strategy?

A people strategy focuses on how businesses can attract, develop, retain, and generally inspire their workforce - prioritising the needs of their people to help them thrive.
People are your safest bet for competitive advantage. Their uniqueness is hard to duplicate. At their best, they will deliver beyond your wildest dreams.

Your people strategy determines the life cycle of all other processes in your organisation.

An influential people strategy will:

  • Act as a pledge towards the employees, solidifying commitment to their welfare.
  • Empower people to outdo themselves in pursuit of the organisation’s goals.
  • Help retain talent. It is costly to lose employees but even more expensive to replace them.
  • Trigger positive responses towards the organisation in times of uncertainty.
  • Improve loyalty amongst employees and encourage high performance.

How do OKRs benefit your people strategy?

The OKR framework is especially helpful in measuring what is otherwise hard to measure. How do you measure loyalty, employee satisfaction, or employee experiences?

The framework defines abstract objectives in SMART (specific, measurable, realistic, and time-bound) terms and facilitates FAST (Frequent, Ambitious, Specific, Transparent) goal-setting and execution.

For instance, one of your people-focused objectives could be to increase employee satisfaction.

The key results will look like this;

  1. Reduce employee turnover from the current rate of 15% to 6%.
  2. Improve the employee net promoter score (NPS) from 22 to 30.

These key results are focused and measurable. They will keep you focused on what truly matters to achieve this objective and enable you to spot potential pitfalls early on.

Outcomes of an OKR-driven people strategy

By combining OKRs with an effective people management strategy, it can deliver some very positive outcomes, as follows:

  1. Your people will respond better (and faster) to changes in the internal and external environment.
  2. You will successfully raise the levels of employee engagement.
  3. You will boost goal clarity across the organisation.
  4. Your people will innovate and consider ways to achieve goals efficiently and effectively.
  5. You will have a unique workforce and, ultimately, a competitive advantage.
  6. Your levels of productivity will skyrocket. You will reduce operational losses and waste to the lowest possible levels.

For more advice on improving productivity, efficiency and effectiveness in the workplace, check out our complete guide here.

Final thought

OKRs will revolutionise your people strategy and the organisation in its entirety. It will be evident in the overall performance, loyalty, productivity, and innovation.

Want to give it a try?

Download our free OKR Builder™ today! It contains a step-by-step guide on creating compelling OKRs in your business that cascade seamlessly throughout all levels for high performance and faster growth.

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The OKR Builder™ - Free Download

Get started writing highly effective, compelling and influential OKRs for your business today with this free workbook. Designed to guide you through the process and leave you feeling confident that your OKRs will cascade successfully, resulting in tighter strategic focus and faster business growth.

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