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How to Align Your Organization with OKRs

Posted by Alexa Rivera on Jan 4, 2022 8:00:00 AM
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setting goals and planning for the New Year

The New Year has finally arrived and you’ve probably been spending some time mulling over goals you’re looking to accomplish, both personally and professionally. In the world of business, even better than goals are what we call Objectives and Key Results, otherwise known as OKRs.

You may have heard this fancy acronym thrown around the corporate world a time or two, but do you know what an OKR truly is? Even more importantly, do you know how to keep your people aligned with the OKRs you do set? 

Let’s discuss starting Q1 the right way with intentional, aligned OKRs.  

Goals vs OKRs 

Goals and OKRs are strikingly similar yet have some significant differences when it comes to intent. SMART goals, in particular, have the most similarities to OKRs as they are specific with measurable results.  

OKR setting, in particular, requires a clear view of your objective, or for all intents and purposes, your overarching goals. This objective is what you plan to work towards, while the key results are the measures or metrics that will get you there.  

Key results are often compared to Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, which are used to measure the progress of your goals. It is safe to say, 2-4 key results should accompany every objective. Key results should also balance metrics with “countermetrics” to ensure the objective does not get out of hand. A countermetric is a key result that demonstrates what we don’t want. 

Setting Productive OKRs 

When establishing OKRs, it is important to set goals that are challenging, but possible. The general recommendation is to hit 70% of your OKRs, as they should be a stretch that helps your team and organization continue to grow.  

Challenging objectives with key results that help guide a team to stay on track is optimal for an organization's success. In fact, A study done by Chris Mason, the Senior Director for Strategic Talent Solutions at Sears Holding Company has shown that the use of OKRs increased sales by 8.5% hourly.  

Additionally, well-crafted OKRs will help your team organize tasks and schedule projects that align with the OKRs set.  

Finally, remember to set dates to review progress and predicted timelines for each OKR and refer to the key results as actual outcomes—not just tasks to check off when hit. 

OKRs Across Organization Structures 

With a solid understanding of what OKRs are and how they should be set, how does this then align with the entire organization?  

To get micro, OKRs are generally set long-term, for the quarter or even the year. While having a single OKR for one team may be too small, having too many is also not ideal. Three goals per individual, team, and organization is a good rule of thumb. 

Additionally, having a specific role or team member lead the success of a specific OKR can help align the entire organization with a few overarching goals.  

In conclusion, setting goals is important for any organization, but exchanging loosely structured goals for well-defined OKRs can bring a challenge that leads to explosive growth for the entire organization.  

As long as everyone works toward the common objectives and progress is monitored regularly, this is a successful strategy for any company or organization.  




Topics: Leadership, Workforce Management

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