If we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing. ― Andy Grove
Setting the right goals at the top is easy; what's hard is breaking down top-level objectives into bite-sized, digestible chunks that can be effectively trickled down to all levels of the organization.
To make things more challenging, employees often can't see a connection between their day-to-day work and the company's bigger vision.
Feeling connected to their organization's mission and goals gives employees meaning and purpose in their work. Making progress towards company-wide goals and mission equips everyone with much-needed enthusiasm to overcome obstacles and stay motivated while moving forward.
Leaders must get across the why as well as the what. Their people need more than milestones for motivation. They are thirsting for meaning, to understand how their goals relate to the mission. ― John Doerr
This is precisely where Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) play a vital role.
Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) have rapidly evolved as the leading goal-setting methodology used by companies of all shapes and sizes — from Google, Spotify, and Netflix to SMBs and startups with a handful of employees.
OKRs help build alignment throughout the organization, create transparency across all levels, and establish accountability between teams and individuals.
With this article, we aim to equip you with the tools and knowledge you need to get started with OKRs. You'll also have access to a free-to-download spreadsheet template to provide structure for implementing OKRs.
📥 Access your free OKR Template here.
Now let’s jump right into a short intro to OKRs and learn how to set them up.
A brief intro to OKRs
In a nutshell, OKR is a goal-setting philosophy started by Andy Grove at Intel and later popularized by John Doerr at Google.
Essentially, an Objective is what you want to achieve — the direction you're heading toward.
On the other hand, a Key Result is one of the milestones you'll pass on the way to reaching your objective: it's how you'll achieve your goal.
To learn more about OKRs, download our free OKR eBook.
5 steps to get started with OKRs
Getting started with OKRs and setting processes in place can be a bit confusing. With the help of an OKR expert, we've simplified this with five steps as a framework for OKRs.
Check out our interview for more details on the steps below.
1. Define long-term business priorities
Start with the overall long-term strategy and vision of your business. Where do you want to be three to five years from now? What are your long-term goals and business priorities?
Note: "Long-term" may have diverse time frames for different industries.
2. Translate business priorities into annual (strategic) OKRs
Select three or four business priorities from the step above and use them as guiding pointers to set up your annual strategic OKRs.
3. Break down annual OKRs into quarterly (tactical) OKRs
When broken down into smaller bits, big goals seem less daunting. Now it's time to break down your annual OKRs into quarterly OKRs.
Quarterly cycles are easily divisible into a working period of 10 weeks. Each week represents 10% of a goal, plus a two-week grace period to get up and running.
4. Convert company OKRs into team & individual OKRs
Enable and guide teams (or departments) in formulating team-specific OKRs that contribute towards the quarterly OKRs. Empower individuals to take ownership of specific objectives, key results, or an entire OKR to make goals part of daily work.
5. Track — tweak — praise — repeat
Regularly tracking and tweaking OKRs will ensure that we move forward in the right direction and undertake relevant initiatives.
Celebrating success and giving constructive feedback as we move towards achieving the OKRs will help us learn and grow as individuals and teams. Consequently, overall performance will be enhanced, and this will help you build a thriving organization.
How to use the free Google Sheets OKR Template
📥 Access your free OKR Template here.
Step 1: The basics
Add company name, vision, and cycle in the Company OKRs tab.
Step 2: Objectives
Add three to five company objectives.
Use aspirational, qualitative statements.
Step 3: Key results
Add 3-5 key results per objective.
Key results are measurable outcomes.
(Pro tip: 5 Tips to Choosing effective Key Results)
Step 4: Measure key results
Define how to measure each key result (column C).
Step 5: Assign values to key results
Insert a start (D), target (E), and current (F) value for each key result.
Step 6: Define a lead or owner
Define a lead/owner per objective.
If multiple people contribute to an objective, define a lead/owner per key result.
Step 7: Deadline
Set a deadline on objective and/or key result level.
Note: For a personal copy, click on File > Make a Copy on the Google Sheets template. For instructions on Team OKRs, see the template.
There’s a smarter way to set up and track OKRs with Leapsome
You can track, align, and collaborate on goals and OKRs at all levels (i.e., company-, team, and individual-wide goals) with the Leapsome platform.
Learn more about the Leapsome OKR tool for OKR tracking.
Measure OKR progress with automated dashboards
See how each OKR is connected across the entire organization with our Goal Tree
Motivate individuals and teams with continuous feedback and status updates
Make OKRs part of daily work
The Leapsome platform goes one step further by connecting all relevant tools (such as One-on-One Meetings, Performance Reviews, and Continuous Feedback) to build a continuous cycle of performance management and personalized learning that boosts engagement at work and the success of your company. With Leapsome, you can seamlessly integrate OKRs into your everyday routine, so that you focus on what matters most every single day.
Let us show you how you can easily set up OKRs on the Leapsome platform, speak with a product specialist.