Keeping up with the ever-changing pace of business is challenging. In order to stay ahead, successful businesses are using a tool called Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). OKRs are not just another strategic planning technique; they are a dynamic system for driving performance in any organization. An effective implementation of OKRs requires the support from all levels of an organization — especially when you’re working with a team that has never used this tool before. This means that adoption may take some time and involve many different people within your company. Implementing OKRs is not easy, but it’s definitely worth it! Let’s see what you need to know about successfully implementing these strategies in your organization:
What are Objectives and Key Results?
OKRs are a simple yet powerful method for creating alignment and driving results in organizations of all sizes by setting goals that are linked to company strategy. The basic structure of OKRs is three columns — objectives, key results and metrics — that are linked to an organization’s strategic goals and objectives. Objectives represent the change or outcome you are aiming to achieve. They are usually set in the larger context of the company’s strategic plan. Key Results represent the specific, measurable and understandable actions needed to move toward the objective. Metrics are the quantifiable results that show progress toward goals. OKRs focus on the desired outcomes, the paths needed to get there and the progress being made along the way. They also include the constraints and resource needs that determine the timing of results. The main purpose of OKRs is to align teams by setting common goals and expectations. OKRs are effective because they’re hard to forget and easy to track.
Make a plan before you implement OKRs
Although the process of creating and publishing OKRs may seem simple, they require an enormous amount of preparation and organization. At the start of your implementation, you should make sure that your team’s OKRs are aligned with the strategic plan of the company and the goals of their departments. Actually, most people who implement OKRs for the first time try to create the Objectives and Key Results for their team before actually proceeding with the implementation. The reason for this is simple: it’s hard to estimate how long it will take to create the OKRs for an entire organization. Creating the OKRs for your team, however, will take much less time.
Set the right context for your team
Setting the right context for your team is critical for successful implementation of OKRs. Every member of your organization should understand in what way the company is growing, who the customers are and how their work contributes to the company’s success. The key to setting the right context is communication. Obviously, it’s impossible to discuss everything with your entire team in one meeting. Start by setting up recurring staff meetings where you discuss the latest news, trends and challenges. Your staff meetings should not be purely informative. They should also provide an opportunity for your team members to ask questions and voice concerns. Make sure to respond to questions as quickly as possible to reduce any confusion.
Build a culture of transparency
In order to build a culture of transparency — which is crucial for successful OKR implementation — you need to make people feel comfortable asking questions. You also need to make it safe for people to challenge the status quo and provide constructive feedback. You can build a culture of transparency by taking a proactive approach to feedback and by showing that you’re open to ideas and suggestions. You can also use tools to foster transparency — like OKRs boards, conversation-starters and transparent rules.
Don’t forget about micromanagement
Even though you are trying to build a transparent organization, you also have to make sure that you aren’t encouraging micromanagement. Be careful not to push your team members so hard that they feel they can’t operate freely. Difficulties with micromanagement are often related to cultural differences. In order to solve this issue, you need to be aware of cultural differences and work to create a culture of transparency where all members of your team feel comfortable voicing their opinions.
Don’t struggle alone: ask for help!
Implementing OKRs is a challenging process that requires a lot of energy and resources. You need to be prepared to face challenges and seek support during this process. You can expect a few speed bumps along the way, especially if you are one of the first organizations to implement OKRs. There may be certain challenges that you’re not familiar with, and you may not know how to proceed. As with any type of change, leading the implementation of OKRs takes time. Be patient and remember that you don’t have to do it alone! There are many different resources and communities that can help you implement and improve your use of OKRs. Be open to new ideas and suggestions, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
Twenty2 Collective offers training, consulting and coaching services to help you establish, uplift or sustain your OKR implementation.