As you likely know, setting goals is critical to the success of your business, no matter what industry you’re in. Whether your goals are internal like improving your team culture, or external like boosting your client experience, they all require a plan to make actual progress and achieve impact.
The best way to craft solid plans for your goals? Focus on your OKRs.
OKRs are objectives and key results that turn your conceptual goals into actionable and measurable initiatives. They determine where you’re going and how you’ll track progress getting there — they also provide transparency for your team to get everyone on the same page.
To write impactful OKRs, you’ll need to know the proper format, what makes an OKR effective, and the right steps to creating them for your team. Let’s dive in.
What is the right OKR format?
To get started writing your OKRs, you’ll need an actionable, time-bound, and ambitious objective statement. Here are a few examples:
- Provide a top-notch client experience
- Become a top 5 app in the App Store by the end of 2024
- Build a strong team culture that boosts team collaboration
Next, set key results that will measure your progress against the initial objectives. Make sure they’re actionable, clear, and quantifiable. While you can certainly include as many key results as you need for each objective, a good rule of thumb is to select three to five. Here’s an example for the first objective listed above:
- Increase NPS (Net Promoter Score) by 20 points by the end of 2024
- Decrease customer service response time by 20% by the end of Q2
- Increase onboarding engagement 10% to 20%
- Gain 40 positive mobile reviews by the end of Q1
Remember, sometimes less is more — keeping your key result list short will help your team stay focused on what’s most important.
What makes an OKR effective?
There are several factors that separate the good OKRs from the bad ones. The most effective OKRs are clear, measurable, and time-bound. Read below for more detail on the key characteristics of effective OKRs.
At its core, an OKR should be measurable. If they aren’t, you might have a hard time understanding whether or not you succeeded. And without that understanding, it’s even more difficult to understand where you should go next. So it’s important to ensure you have a quantifiable measurement for gauging your OKRs effectiveness.
Your team needs to easily understand each OKR, so they need to be clear, concise, and easy to digest. Make sure your objectives are straightforward, and write the key results in a way that doesn’t require further explanation.
Your OKRs should be revisited on a regular basis — how is your team supposed to hit their goals if they can’t remember them? Review them as part of your weekly meetings or in 1:1s with each team member so everyone knows how they’re progressing and they’re always top of mind.
6 steps for writing OKRs
Take a look at the following steps towards setting and achieving OKRs effectively.
1. Base them off your company goals
The most effective OKRs are based on the goals of your organization as a whole. Once you fully understand the company vision, each of the higher-level goals can be broken down into actionable OKRs for your team to help the company thrive.
When you start with well-defined goals, you can use them to craft your team OKRs and go even further with individual OKRs. This way everyone is working toward the same goals and stays aligned with the vision.
2. Include your team
Each team member should have the opportunity to provide input and feedback into OKRs — this way they’ll have a shared sense of ownership and accountability for the initiatives they’re responsible for.
Once you fully understand the company goals and vision, conduct a team meeting to brainstorm and perfect your OKRs. After that, meet one-on-one with each team member to discuss how their individual goals fit with the vision, and whether or not they think they make sense.
And don’t forget to keep them in the loop on a regular basis on how progress is tracking so everyone can see how their work is impacting the company.
3. Write an objective statement
Sometimes it can be tempting to start crunching the numbers right away and crank out the key results you want, but before doing so, you should establish your objectives — after all, they’re the ultimate goal and destination you want to get to. Your objectives will drive the key results.
Objectives should be one sentence, with a short description. And make sure not to set the bar too low, your goals should be (realistically) ambitious!
4. Craft your key results
You and your team will measure progress towards your objectives with the key results. Think of them as a map to how you will arrive at your desired destination. It’s here that you define how that progress will be measured — so they should include a number and be relevant to your objective.
5. Plan initiatives
Now it’s time to put it all together! This is where your initiatives come in. They’re the roadmap for how you’re going to take action against your OKRs. Here’s an example of what the combination of the three could look like:
Provide a top-notch client experience
Increase NPS (Net Promoter Score) by 20 points by the end of 2024
Conduct monthly NPS surveys with clients
6. Track OKRs consistently
You’ve done the brainstorming work with your team, built out your OKRs, and even made a shiny deck that includes all your hard work — so don’t forget about them! The most effective OKRs are those that you track and review on a regular basis. Bring them up in 1:1s with individual employees, review them in weekly team meetings, and even highlight progress with your organization during town halls.