3 Simple Tips for Setting Fail-Proof OKRs

Estimated read time 3 min read

Adopted by everyone from Google to Bono, the lead singer of U2, OKRs (or objectives and key results) are a tried and tested goal-setting framework created by John Doerr and introduced in his book “Measure What Matters”. Adopted by several Fortune 500 companies, including Uber, Amazon and Twitter, OKRs are now gaining popularity among smaller organisations, who are using them to motivate and inspire their employees to band together around shared aims and produce more meaningful work.

The objective is “the what”, typically an ambitious goal you want to accomplish relatively quickly — in the business world, this might be something along the lines of “increase website traffic by 15% by the next quarter”. Each has three to five key results, “the how”, that act as benchmarks, helping you access progress. Examples might be “publish four new blog articles every month” or “reach number in the Google SERPs for five relevant keywords”.

However, creating OKRs that are concise, measurable and aligned with the bigger picture of what your company is trying to achieve can be a challenge. To ensure success, take on board these three fail-safe tips.

1. Make Your Goals Clear and Specific

For objectives to work, they must contribute to your business’s overall purpose, or else your team will fail to see the value in completing them. Communicating openly and transparently is the best way to get your employees on board. This helps them understand your expectations and focuses their attention on the best actions for growing your business.

Also, goals should be challenging yet attainable, as you don’t want your staff to feel like you’re setting them up to fail. An excellent way of breaking down aggressive OKRs is to create mini-goals or milestones within your key results that keep the individual on track and heading in the right direction.

Make Your Goals Clear and Specific

2. Create Key Results You Can Measure

Ensure your key results include a quantifiable figure, for example, a 20% increase in bookings or gaining 500 new followers on Twitter. Without a clearly defined outcome, your team will be unable to measure their progress and might not even know if they have completed the goal.

When discussing OKRs with your staff, ask some of the following questions to gain greater clarity:

  • What do you hope to achieve?
  • What do you think needs prioritising?
  • What problems are we trying to solve?

3. Celebrate Achievers and Support Those Who Struggle3. Celebrate Achievers and Support Those Who Struggle

OKRs aren’t just a one-off — they’re a tool you should continually review, evaluate and reset if you want your business to grow and progress. Adopting a performance management programme like Clear Review enables leaders to create and manage flexible employee goals, provide frequent and insightful feedback that drives performance and pinpoint which individuals have gone the extra mile and those who require additional coaching.

Instead of creating goals and leaving your staff to get on with them, you must have regular check-ins scheduled where you can access if anyone needs additional assistance and reward those who are smashing your expectations.

Whether you treat them to a financial reward, such as a gift voucher, or thank them in front of their peers, making an outstanding team member feel appreciated will encourage them to keep doing well and incentivise others to follow suit. Similarly, some people may come up against obstacles when trying to complete their goals, which is why it’s essential to keep an eye on progress, so you can help jump on these issues as they arise, instead of leaving them to fester.

Sarah Cantley

Editorial Head at UK Blog for Business & Startup.

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