OKRs: Objectives and Key Results (What Are They, How to Write Them & Examples)

  • May 16, 2022
  • by Lorea Lastiri
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okr

Do you ever feel like you’re spinning your wheels at work and not getting anywhere? Many people feel this way, especially if they don’t have smart and specific goals to work towards. That’s where objectives and key results, or OKRs, come in. The OKR framework helps you set and track progress towards specific goals.

In 1999, John Doerr, a venture capitalist at Kleiner Perkins, heard about a new way of setting goals pioneered by Andy Grove, the co-founder of Intel Corporations, in 1968. He was so impressed by Intel’s results that he decided to implement the same system at his own company.¬†

Doerr introduced Google to OKRs, where he helped them write their very first OKR. The system proved to be so successful that Google has been using it ever since.

You can use the OKR methodology in any industry or organization size. It is ideal for businesses that want to increase transparency and accountability. In this article, we’ll discuss precisely what OKRs are, how to write them, and examples of how you can use them. Let’s get started!

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

What are OKRs? What are OKRs used for?

goals

OKRs are a framework for setting smart goals and measuring progress towards those goals. They are typically broken into objectives, key results, and initiatives.

Additionally, you can use OKRs for various purposes, such as:

  • Increasing transparency

  • Helping individuals and teams stay focused on the most important tasks

  • Fostering a culture of accountability

  • Assessing employee engagement and performance

  • Aligning team efforts with company strategy

ūüĎČ Check also our article and find out how to boost the employees engagement

What is an Objective?

An objective is a specific and measurable goal that you want to achieve. An objective should have a clearly defined long-term result that you can accomplish soon. For example, a marketing team might set an objective to increase website traffic by 20% over the next three months.

The main features of objectives are that they should be:

1. Significant 

Your objectives should be important, challenging, and ambitious enough to motivate you to accomplish them.

2. Measurable 

measurable

They should have specific metrics that you can use to track performance and determine whether or not they have been achieved.

3. Relevant 

Your objectives should align with the overall goals of your team or organization.

4. Concrete 

They should be concise and clearly defined.

What is a Key Result?

A key result is a metric that you will use to measure progress towards an objective. A key result should be quantifiable so that you can track your performance. For example, if the marketing team’s objective was to increase website traffic by 20%, their key results might be increasing monthly unique visitors by 10% and total page views by 5%.

The main features of a key result are that it should be:

1. Time-bound 

Key results should have a due date to help you track your progress towards them.

calendar

2. Aligned with objectives 

Your key results should be directly related to at least one objective.

3. Achievable 

Key results should be attainable within a reasonable timeframe so that you don’t set yourself up for failure.

What is an Initiative?

Initiatives are the specific tasks or projects you need to complete to achieve the objectives and key results. Initiatives should be actionable and have a clear purpose. For example, suppose the marketing team’s objective is to increase website traffic by 20%. In that case, they might have to complete several initiatives, such as increasing traffic on social media, increasing podcast listeners, improving organic search engine rankings, and creating new website content.

The main features of initiatives are that they should be:

1. Actionable 

Initiatives should be specific tasks or projects that you can complete.

2. Specific 

Initiatives should be described in concrete terms so that you and others get a clear understanding.

What are the OKR types?

OKRs vary depending on the specific organization or team. However, there are three main types of OKRs:

1. Committed OKRs

Committed OKRs are used by teams that want to commit to a specific goal or set of goals. They are typically time-bound and are focused on working towards a specific milestone. For example, a marketing team might set committed OKRs to increase website traffic by 20% within the next three months.

Committed OKRs involve using schedules, budgets, precise plans, and resources. After the time limit expires, the team, department, or company members meet to grade the OKR methodology. If the grade is too low, you can discuss which part of the planning or execution stages you could have made improvements.

2. Aspirational OKRs

Aspirational OKRs are used by teams that want to set ambitious goals that may be difficult to accomplish. They are not time-bound and are focused on achieving a long-term goal. For example, a marketing team might set an aspirational OKR to increase website traffic by 100% within the next year.

After the six-month OKR cycle, the team will measure success and analyze what is and isn’t working. At the end of the six months, they can review their findings and make any necessary changes to their plan for increasing website traffic.

3. Learning OKRs

Learning OKRs helps teams track progress toward their most important goals over time. If your team is unsure of how to proceed with a goal or if a goal is difficult to achieve, learning OKRs can help you track your progress and learn from your mistakes. For example, a marketing team might set a learning OKR to increase website traffic by 10% over six months.

After the six-month OKR cycle, the team will track their performance and analyze what is and isn’t working. At the end of the six months, they can review their findings and make any necessary changes to their plan for increasing website traffic.

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Benefits of implementing OKRs in your organization

OKRs are a powerful tool that can help you fulfill your company goals. Here are some of the benefits of effectively implementing OKRs:

1. Increased clarity

When you set OKRs, you will clearly understand what you need to do to achieve your company goals. OKRs generally involve setting specific and measurable targets, which can help you track your progress. This can help increase clarity within your team and organization, leading to improved performance.

2. Improved focus on team objectives

Good OKRs help you focus on the most important goals for your team or organization. Setting OKRs can help you avoid working on tasks that are not directly related to your company goals. When you focus your resources and energy on the top priorities, you are more likely to achieve your goals.

3. Increased accountability

OKRs help to hold individuals and teams accountable for their work. If an individual or team member does not meet their objectives, they will be required to explain why this is the case. This can help to improve the overall performance of your team or organization.

project

4. Setting measurable goals

Using the OKR formula to set your objectives and key results can help you to track the progress toward your company objectives. This is important for assessing whether or not you have achieved your target metric and improving performance over time.

5. Increased transparency

Good OKRs help to increase transparency within your organization. The OKR process requires you to share your goals with others. This can help to improve communication and understanding within your team or organization.

6. Better planning

OKRs can help you to plan your work more effectively. When you set OKRs, you will need to think about how you will achieve your individual or company objectives. This can help you, and your team plan your work more effectively and see whether or not you have enough resources to achieve your goals.

7. Increased motivation

OKRs can help to increase motivation within your team or organization. Setting OKRs can help you focus on your company’s top level objective and work towards achieving it. This can encourage you to work harder and improve the performance of your team members.

8. Improved decision making

Good OKRs can help you make better decisions about allocating your resources. The OKR process pushes you to think about which tasks are most important and how you can best use your resources to achieve your objectives. This can help you make more informed decisions about using your time and resources.

9. Increased innovation

OKRs can help to promote innovation within your team or organization. Setting OKRs challenges you to think about how you can achieve your objectives in new and innovative ways. This can help encourage creativity and improve the overall performance of your team or the entire organization.

10. Improved profitability

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OKRs can help to improve the profitability of your organization. They encourage you to focus on the most important goals for your team or the entire organization and take a strategic approach to achieve them, which helps improve overall efficiency.

Objective and Key Results examples 

Writing OKRs can be challenging, but there are many effective OKR examples that can help to inspire you. A few examples of common objectives and key results can include:

1. The objective is to boost sales by 20% over the next six months

The key results associated with this objective include:

  • Increasing traffic to the company website

  • Improving conversion rates

  • Optimizing marketing campaigns

  • Increasing sales through strategic partnerships and expanding into new markets

2. To increase productivity within a team or organization

Some potential key results for this objective might include:

  • Improving communication and collaboration between team members

  • Increasing the number of tasks completed per day

  • Reducing the amount of time spent on non-productive activities

ūüĎČ Check our list of 24 employee recognition ideas that increase productivity

3. The objective is to strengthen the brand

Some key results that could be associated with this objective include:

  • Increasing brand awareness

  • Improving customer satisfaction

  • Expanding into new markets

  • Developing stronger partnerships with other companies

  • Focusing on public relations activities

4. The objective is to reduce operating costs by 10%

To achieve this objective, your team or organization might focus on:

  • Reducing the amount of waste produced

  • Improving energy efficiency

  • Negotiating better deals with suppliers

5. The objective is to develop a new product

Some key results that could be associated with this objective include:

  • Conducting market research to identify customer needs

  • Partnering with other companies to speed up development

  • Creating an MVP and testing it with customers

  • Working out the logistics of manufacturing and distribution

6. The objective is to launch a new website

To achieve this objective, your team or organization will focus on:

  • Designing a user-friendly website

  • Developing engaging content

  • Optimizing the website for search engines

  • Ensuring the website is accessible on a range of devices and platforms

7. The objective is to increase engagement on social media

Some potential key results associated with this objective might include:

  • Increasing the number of followers on social media accounts

  • Generating more likes, comments, and shares on posts

  • Creating more engaging content for social media audiences

  • Engaging influencers and other online communities to promote our brand or products.

8. The objective is to improve customer retention

Some key results that could be associated with this objective might include:

  • Developing better customer service processes

  • Offering more engaging rewards or incentives to loyal customers

  • Improving the customer experience

How to write effective OKRs? 

There are several key factors that you should consider when setting any type of OKR. These include choosing the right goal, aligning your objectives and results with strategic goals, identifying goals that will make a real difference to you, your team, or your entire organization, and breaking down large goals into smaller achievable targets.

The factors vary in different settings, including when:

Setting company OKRs

Company OKRs should set a clear direction for the organization and help to align the individual team and department goals with overall company objectives. To write effective company OKRs, you should:

  • Clearly define what success looks like for your entire organization

  • Set challenging yet achievable goals that are aligned with your overall vision and business strategy

  • Ensure that your company objectives are measurable and have a timeframe associated with them

  • Make sure that your key results are specific, achievable, and relevant to your objectives

  • Get buy-in from all levels of your organization, from senior management to individual team members

  • Communicate your OKRs to all employees in the entire company regularly to maintain focus and motivation

Setting personal OKRs

Personal OKRs can help individuals focus on their most important goals and align their work with the organization’s overall objectives. To write effective personal OKRs, you should:

  • Set clear and measurable goals that are aligned with your overall career or professional development goals

  • Ensure that your key results are specific, achievable, and relevant to your objectives

  • Make sure that your objectives and key results are reviewed and updated regularly

  • Get buy-in from your manager or other senior team members

  • And remember that the key to achieving your OKRs is to stay focused, motivated, and committed.

Setting team-specific OKRs

Team-specific OKRs can help ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals and that team members are aligned with the overall objectives of the entire organization. For maximum effect teams set OKRs while considering the following factors:

  • Define what success looks like for your team

  • Set challenging yet achievable goals that are aligned with the overall company objectives¬†

  • Ensure that your team objectives are measurable and have a timeframe associated with them

  • Make sure that your key results are specific, achievable, and relevant to your objectives

  • Get buy-in from all members of your team, including managers and other senior staff members

  • Communicate your team OKRs regularly to maintain focus and motivation among team members

Differences between OKRs and KPIs

KPIs, or key performance indicators, are used to measure progress towards a specific goal. Unlike OKRs, which are typically used to measure progress over a longer period, KPIs are typically used to measure progress on a shorter-term basis.

Although OKRs and KPIs are both tools that you can use to measure and track performance, there are some key differences between them.

Settings

OKRs are typically set at the organizational or company level, whereas KPIs are usually specific to departments or individual teams. This means that OKRs are more likely to be aligned with the overall company or team objectives, while KPIs are more likely to focus on specific business areas.

Timeframes

OKRs are typically set for a longer period (usually one quarter or one year), while KPIs are usually set for a shorter period (such as one month or one week).

Levels of detail

OKRs are typically more high-level than KPIs, focusing on overall goals and business strategies rather than specific actions or tasks. In contrast, KPIs are typically more detailed and can include specific activities or tasks that need to be completed to achieve a goal.

OKR software

Objective & Key Results software is a type of software that helps organizations set, track, and achieve their OKRs. OKR software typically includes the following features:

Goal-setting

These tools help you set objectives and key results and monitor progress towards your company goals. Organizations can ensure that their OKRs are aligned with their overall business strategy using goal-setting tools.

For example, you can use a goal-setting tool to set and track your organization’s goals on a weekly basis, monitor progress towards those goals, and share your objectives and key results with other team members.

goal

Performance tracking

Performance tracking tools help organizations track the performance of individual team members and the team as a whole. Performance tracking tools can also help organizations identify areas where team members struggle to meet their objectives and provide suggestions for better performance.

A good example is when a member is struggling with one of the team objectives, the team leader can look at the performance tracker and see that they are falling behind in work and schedule weekly check ins to give them feedback on how to improve.

Reporting and analytics

Reporting and analytics tools help organizations interpret performance data and generate reports on their OKRs. In particular, this feature can help your organization generate direct reports to compare their current performance with past performance and the performance of other organizations.

This is useful for identifying trends and areas of improvement. For example, suppose you notice that your organization’s sales have declined for the past few months. In that case, you can use reporting tools to identify potential factors that may have contributed to this decline.

Collaboration tools

These tools help team members to collaborate on OKRs and share ideas. For example, collaboration tools can allow team members to comment on key results or provide suggestions for improvement.

Collaboration tools are particularly important for remote teams as they can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.

Scalability

Scalability refers to the ability of your software to grow with your organization. As your organization grows, it is important to find a system to support larger teams and more complex company goals.

Scalability is important because it ensures that your organization can continue using the same simple tool even as it grows.

Customization

It is also important to find an OKR software tool that allows you to customize your goals and key results. For example, you may want to customize your OKRs based on the specific needs of your organization or team.

Customization can also provide greater flexibility and help your team stay focused on the most important objectives.

Security

security

Security is an essential feature in any OKR software tool. OKRs contain sensitive information about your organization’s goals and strategies, so it is important to find a tool that offers robust security features.

This can include things like two-factor authentication and automatic backup systems, which help to protect your data from potential threats.

Integration

Many OKR software tools integrate with other popular business applications, such as project management and CRM systems. Integration helps organizations streamline their workflows by having easy access to all the projects on one platform.

For example, a CRM system can integrate with an OKR tool to help sales teams track their performance and share their annual goals with other team members. TimeCamp is a good example of a time tracking app you can integrate with your OKR software to improve your team’s efficiency.

Ease of use

Finally, it is important to find an OKR software tool that is easy to use. This will help your team get up and running in the same direction quickly, without requiring a lot of training or support.

OKR software with a user-friendly interface can help your team stay focused and productive without getting bogged down in complex features.

There are many different options for OKR software, and organizations can choose the option that best suits their needs and budget. 

Conclusion

OKRs are a powerful tool for setting and tracking progress towards organizational goals. However, it is important to find the right OKR software tool for a more effective management methodology. Some key features include reporting tools, collaboration tools, scalability, customization, security, integration, and ease of use.

TimeCamp is a time tracking app that offers all of these features, and more. Sign up with TimeCamp to easily track and monitor progress towards your goals and improve your team’s efficiency.

Lorea Lastiri

Lorea is a freelance SEO writer and has spent the last five years researching and writing about time management, productivity, and SaaS. She's an avid traveler, skier, and surfer; when not in the office, you can find her riding waves or exploring the alps.

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