To get better results in your business, you need a goal-setting methodology that leads teams to think outside of the box. The OKR approach will not only help you structure your planning discussions but make sure that you are making good progress throughout the quarter.
We believe that implementing OKRs is a step towards better leadership. So what should you expect from the OKR rollout in your company?
Building a stronger team
The first steps of the OKR rollout involve cross-functional discussions. To write good Objectives, leaders would initiate the conversation on these three topics:
- What is slowing us down?
- What could be changed for us to have better results as a company?
- What is the most impactful opportunity to explore?
The answers to these questions could be shared in a single document, through a digital whiteboard, or in a slide deck.
This kind of process inspires transparency and better communication. It is not about having more meetings, it’s about having better ones.
Focusing on the right things
Your competitive strength very often depends on the ability to find 20% of effort that brings 80% of results. OKRs will help you to narrow things down significantly.
When writing Objectives and Key Results, teams will go through a series of structured brainstorming sessions and come out with a clear way to validate your strategy. Or… the discussion could lead them to ask more questions – better questions – that will help the leaders to point the company in the right direction.
Delivering better results
If you’re completing 50 tasks per day, and nothing changes in your business, you’re not really being productive. What matters is not how many tasks you get done, but what impact they’re having on the Key Results and, ultimately, on the success of the Objective. With OKRs you measure value, not effort, and by that the teams become really result-oriented.
Teams that participate in the goal-setting process are more likely to achieve those goals. The background information and insights that you discuss during the planning session often carry crucial information important for execution.
Without this information, some context may be lost, and it would slow the team down.
The team that knows where the overarching goals came from, what they mean, and why they matter right now always write better goals. The team should be trusted to write their own OKRs since they are going to be the ones driving them forward.
Team OKRs should align with the Company Objectives and contribute to them. This means that the company is creating a unified direction through Objectives, and teams will take ownership of delivering on their OKRs to move the company forward.
Ownership mentality cannot be assigned, it rather comes naturally to the teams who are trusted to do the right thing.
That is why, to live up to their potential, teams should be responsible for writing their own collaborative OKRs and deciding on how to invest their time and energy in the best possible way: i.e. what can they fix, change or improve?
The OKR framework encourages teams to think about what kind of role they are playing and what they can do to make their contributions more valuable.
Inspiring courage to try new things
The OKR rollout implies a significant cultural component – willingness to be transparent across the organization. It is not about sharing financial information though. OKR transparency is about openly sharing your priorities – both quarterly OKRs and weekly plans.
Here’s what you get with full visibility and easy access to quarterly OKRs and Weekly Plans:
- It saves teams time in meetings so they can focus on execution. Team discussions should be about getting organized and keeping track of their progress: what’s working, what’s not. Everything else people can read in the company’s Newsfeed.
- Business processes run faster. Since people know what’s going on in the company’s life, it’s much easier to maintain a sense of urgency for Company Objectives.
- It boosts engagement and fuels accountability. When a team’s priorities and achievements are seen by others, there’s no place for excuses or just pretending to be busy. There’s also no place for procrastination. And, more importantly, when they get it done, others can see how valuable their work is.
OKR is a journey of continuous improvement
OKRs put great emphasis on effective teamwork, alignment, and accountability which is achieved through focusing the entire team on working smarter, not harder.
When you work hard, you cross 50 items off your list, and nothing changes in your business. Working smart, however, means figuring out high-level priorities, defining measurable outcomes that you want to achieve, and taking immediate massive action.
The benefits of OKRs are not circumstantial or accidental. You can enjoy them fully only by being intentional in your goal-setting process and following the main principles and guidelines.
One other thing to remember is that OKR is a framework, and not a one-size-fits-all template, so you shouldn’t be looking for perfect examples but rather learn how to write good Objectives and Key Results for your teams.