Goal setting is an annual, quarterly, and sometimes even monthly practice for any successful business. While several methodologies exist to set and track goals—think SMART and KPIs—one approach does things differently. By using objectives and key results (OKRs) your goals “have a soul and directionality to them,” notes What Matters, an organization that helps galvanize leaders using the OKR framework.
What are OKRs?
OKR is simply an acronym short for “objectives and key results” and they help you see if you’ve done something useful over a period of time. The idea is that you work collaboratively with your team to define company and team objectives. Oftentimes these will be inspirational or aspirational goals you would like to meet by the end of the next quarter. They are qualitative and high-level.
In order to see those objectives come to fruition there has to be a way to track progress. That’s where key results join the goal setting party. They serve as the measurable milemarkers on your journey to meet or exceed the objectives you set. If you hit your key results, you know you’re on the right course. They are not tasks, but rather the outcomes of the work you’re doing.
How do you set OKRs?
To start the process of setting OKRs, gather your team for a goal setting brainstorming session. Involving your team in this process is critical and will help them understand the importance of OKRs while getting everyone on the same page. When developing objectives and key results for the next quarter start with the end in mind.
1. Where do you want to end up? This is one of the first questions you can ask your team to get clear on objectives. If all goes as planned, what does your team want to accomplish in the next quarter. What problem do you want to solve? Objectives themselves don’t have to measurable or qualitative.
2. How will you know if you meet your objectives? Because objectives can fall in a more grey area, key results help you know if you actually hit those objectives. Look at them as black and white, measurable, and quanitative. You either get the intended result or you don’t.
What are examples of quarterly OKRs?
Let’s take a look at some examples of quarterly OKRs to better understand how objectives and key results work together to move companies forward.
Marketing OKR example
Objective: Increase new email subscribers percentage month over month
- Key Result: Create a free download by October 15 to increase opt-ins by 20%
- Key Result: Implement a 2-month Facebook advertising campaign leading people to opt-in to free download
- Key Result: Start 1-week campaign with exclusive offer to Instagram followers for joining email list
Sales OKR example
Objective: Have 80% of sales reps hit their quarterly targets
- Key Result: Implement 1x week “Strategize with the VP” coffee chats
- Key Result: Add weekly pipeline tracking notifications for better transparency by February 10
- Key Result: Increase virtual meetings over phone calls by 20% by rep
Human Resources OKR example
Objective: Increase employee retention
- Key Result: Have 75% of employees complete satisfaction survey by August 5
- Key Result: Implement two suggestions from career progression workshop by September 15
- Key Result: Start “Good News” gram campaign by July 30
Customer Support OKR example
Objective: Decrease the time it takes to respond to customer help desk tickets
- Key Result: Add 2 new team members by May 20
- Key Result: Add FAQs section to website by April 30
- Key Result: Increase online chat hours from 10-3 to 9-5
OKRs align your team and clarify where everyone should be spending their time and effort. Setting OKRs that are achievable on a quarterly basis keeps your team motivated and headed in the right direction. Tasks don’t feel overwhelming because your employees have been a part of setting the objectives have a clear picture of the key results that need to be met to get there.