As a company, you always want to be reaching for ambitious goals that will improve your employee and customer offerings, boost your performance and promote your company values, but this is sometimes easier said than done. How you set goals that are both ambitious and achievable has been the center of HR work for decades, and while the technology to track these goals has changed, one way of achieving them is still holding strong: OKRs.
OKRs stands for Objectives and Key Results, a goal management system created by CEO of Intel Andy Grove that keeps workers on track to achieving project aims. OKRs are designed to align the goals of individuals and teams with the company’s, prioritize actions, improve team communication, and engage employees in running successful projects.
How To Form OKRs
Let’s break down the term. Objective is self-explanatory: it’s the ultimate goal fo your project, where you want to go. Objectives should be qualitative and formed using language that indicates progress and development — words like boost, increase, and grow. Also, the fewer objectives you have, the more focussed your project will be; don’t have more than four objectives at any one time.
Key Results are the steps you take to reach your Objectives. These should be quantitative, objective, and measurable and focus on impact and outcome. Key Results should not be a list of tasks but rather a collection of actions with clear and intended impacts that will help you achieve your Objective. As a result, Key Results are closely tied to each specific goal, with around three Key Results per Objective.
“One extra tip: when developing Key Results, make sure they are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. Follow this acronym to avoid vague Key Results that employees find hard to follow and managers find difficult to measure,” suggests Fiona Adams, a tech blogger at PaperFellows and Asignment Writer.
Here’s one example of an OKR to explain the format:
Objective: Improve diversity across the company
- Increase underrepresented minorities across all roles to 40%
- Increase women in leadership roles to 50%
- Ensure all management (100%) attends an upcoming diversity workshop
You can see here that the overall Objective is broad and qualitative, but is backed up by specific and quantitative Key Results. The Key Results are not a check-list of tasks, but smaller, specific goals that contribute to the overall Objective. Of course, below the level of Key Results will be another level of specific actions that will contribute to the quantitative goals.
Are OKRs Better Than Performance Reviews?
If you’ve been won over by OKRs already, you might be thinking they are a great replacement for employee performance reviews; but wait. Performance reviews are one of the best ways to keep employees on track, monitor their achievements, and identify their specific challenges. While OKRs achieve much of the same goals, they are not a representative of all the work an individual worker does every day.
“Employees should have more than three goals to aim towards, so while Key Results are a good way of keeping them on track, they are not a replacement for more detailed performance assessment rubrics. By all means, use OKRs as one of many influential aspects to guide performance reviews, but don’t rely entirely on them,” says Diana Smith, a business blogger at State Of Writing and Boomessays.
How To Track And Update OKRs
Forming your OKRs is only the first step. If you really want to be serious about achieving your objectives, you need to keep track of your progress. Consider instituting a scale that can be applied across all your OKRs, 1 being not achieved and 10 being completely achieved. Check in on your progress regularly and update your rating.
Having said that, if you’re achieving all of your Objectives all the time you might not be doing it right. As counterintuitive as it sounds, making all your Objectives easily achieveable is an easy way to make your team complacent. You want your OKRs to stretch your abilities and challenge your staff. While that doesn’t mean you should set intentionally impossible Objectives, it does mean you should push your staff to achieve things that might not be easy.
Examples of OKRs
Once you’ve understood the basic structure of OKRs, you can begin to implement them into your projects. What kind of OKRs you use will depend on your company vision, your current projects, and whatever challenges you’re currently facing, but here are a few general examples that might help inspire you.
Objective: Boost team performance
- Increase weekly check-in attendance to 100%
- Institute employee rewards scheme
- Increase OKR success rate by 20%
Objective: Enhance our customer service offerings
- Increase customer feedback rating to 9 or higher
- Respond to all customer queries within 24 hours
- Send out a customer feedback survey to all former customers
Objective: Improve our employee benefits offering
- Research benefits programs in 10 competing companies
- Increase benefits program usage by 25%
- Maintain benefits budget per team member per annum at $500 or below
Objective: Increase employee engagement
- Reduce employee absences by 25%
- Increase productivity by 25%
- Increase weekly check-in attendance by 25%
Objective: Reduce workplace stress
- Ensure meditation and yoga classes are attended by a minimum of 50
- Improve the break room offerings with three new casual activities (ping pong, foosball, arcade machine)
- Reduce employee stress self-reporting by 30%
Objective: Improve our management capabilities
- Provide monthly training to be attended by 100% of management.
- Conduct anonymous employee surveys monthly to assess management
- Institute open-door policy on Friday afternoons for feedback and ensure the attendance of at least 5 staff per week
Objective: Create an employee personal development program
- Curate a program with at least 5 offerings
- Choose a system for tracking personal development program attendance and achievement
- Reach 75% achievement rate across all team members
Objective: Improve office wellbeing
- Interview 15 team members on how to improve work-life balance in the team
- Decrease the sick day leaves per month per employee from 2 to 1
- Conduct a voluntary vaccination for team members and achieve 50% participation
Objective: Throw an amazing Christmas party for all staff
- Achieve 80% attendance at the Christmas party
- Involve at least 50% of the team in organizing the party (design, catering selection, venue choice)
- Raise $5,000 from non-employee external sources in support funds for the party
Objective: Focus and enhance company values
- Interview 25% of the team on the current company culture and values
- Implement these interviews in two focus meetings on company values
- Conduct a customer survey on company values
Objective: Boost our recruitment capabilities
- Increase job offer acceptance to 90%
- Reduce hiring costs by 25%
- Increase internal recommendation hires to 20%
Objective: Enhance and improve our onboarding process
- End all onboarding sessions with a feedback interview regarding the process
- Increase onboarding satisfaction rate to 95%
- Institue a mentor program and ensure 50% participation
Objective: Increase employee motivation
- Reduce staff complaints to 1 per month
- Increase employee feedback reach to 100% of staff
- Increase engagement score to 90%
Objective: Improve employee retention
- Decrease staff turnover by 50%
- Conduct exit interviews with 100% of leaving staff
- Define personal development goals for 100% of staff and ensure regular PDG check-ins
Objective: Improve extracurricular offerings for all employees
- Increase biannual sports day attendance by 25%
- Hold an event on all cultural celebration days
- Conduct monthly team meetings to discuss potential activities
Objective: Improve design team performance
- Evaluate all design tools and replace ineffective tools with new alternatives
- Research eLearning opportunities and finance a minimum of 5 options
- Improve customer satisfaction rate by 10%
Objective: Boost brand perception by the end of the year
- Increase brand visibility by 25%
- Improve SEO ranking by 5 points across all categories
- Boost brand performance by 0.5 points above our closest competitor
Objective: Grow the development team
- Interview 10 current team members about their interview and onboarding experiences
- Implement this feedback in the upcoming hiring and onboarding process
- Hire and onboard three new team members for the development team
- Interview the three new hires on their interview and onboarding experiences.
Objective: Achieve OKR adoption across all departments
- Introduce OKR training workshops and ensure at least 50% attendance from all departments
- Improve reports on OKR effectiveness by 25%
- Achieve 60% achievement rate for all OKRs, increasing by 10% on the subsequent cycle
These examples should indicate that there are lots of ways to write OKRs, so it’s hard to recommend one winning strategy. Each time you approach an OKR formation you should keep your thoughts focused on your particular company values, the nature of your specific projects, and the tone fo your company culture. However, by following the points at the top of the article you can be sure you’re on your way to writing actionable and ambitious OKRs to help you achieve your company goals.
Beatrix Potter is an HR expert at Do My Essay and Dissertation Help writing services. Beatrix writes about HR solutions that will boost employee retention and staff performance. Also, she is a blogger at Essayroo Reviews.