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If we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing. ― Andy Grove

Setting the right goals at the top is easy; the hard part is breaking down the top-level goals into bite-sized digestible chunks that can be effectively trickled down to all levels of the organization.

It is often the case that employees feel lost in connecting their day-to-day work with the bigger vision of where the company is headed towards. 

Having a connection with the mission and goals of the organization gives employees meaning and purpose in their work. Making progress towards the company wide goals  and mission equips everyone with the 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 foremost goal setting methodology used by companies of all shapes and sizes, ranging from the likes of Google, Spotify, and Netflix to startups with a handful of employees to SMB’s. 

OKRs help in building alignment throughout the organization, creating transparency across all levels, and establishing accountability between teams and individuals.

In this article, we hope to equip you with all the tools and knowledge you need to get started with OKRs along with a free-to-download OKR spreadsheet template (in Google sheets) to provide structure for implementing OKRs.

📥 Access your free OKR Template here.

Let’s jump right into a short intro to OKRs and then learn how to set them up.

A brief intro to OKRs

OKR, in a nutshell, is a philosophy for goal setting that was 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 that you are heading towards. 

A ‘Key Result’, on the other hand, is one of the milestones you’ll pass on the way to reaching your objective: it’s how you will achieve your objective.

Check out our 5 tips each for setting the right objectives and the right key results for your OKRs. 

To learn more about OKRs, download our free OKR eBook.

5 steps on getting started with OKRs

Getting started with OKRs and setting the process in place can be a bit confusing. We distil the fuzziness out by defining 5 steps to give you a framework, which is developed with help from an OKR expert. Check out our interview for details on the steps below.

1. Define your long-term business priorities

Start with the overall long-term strategy and vision of your business. Where do you want to be 3 to 5 years from now? What are your long-term goals and business priorities?

Note: ‘Long-term’ may have different 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 in setting up your annual strategic OKRs.

3. Break down annual OKRs into quarterly (tactical) OKRs

Bigger goals when broken down into smaller ones start to appear less daunting. In this step, break down the annual OKRs into quarterly OKRs.

Quarterly cycles are easily divisible into a working period of 10 weeks where each week represents 10% of a goal, plus a 2 week grace period to get up and running.

4. Convert company OKRs into team & individual OKRs

Enable and provide guidance to teams (or departments) in formulating team-specific OKRs that contribute towards the quarterly OKRs. Enable individuals to take up ownership of specific objectives or key results or the entire OKR to make goals part of daily work.

5. Track - tweak - praise - repeat

Regularly tracking and tweaking OKRs will ensure that we are moving forward in the right direction and undertaking 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, which will enhance the overall performance and contribute towards building 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 3-5 company objectives. 

Use aspirational, qualitative statements. 

(Pro tip: 5 Tips on Setting the Right Objectives for Your OKRs)

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 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/or individual goals) within the Leapsome platform. Learn more about the Leapsome OKR software tool for OKR tracking. 

Measure OKR progress with automated dashboards

Visualize how each OKR is connected across the entire organization with the 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 of the 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 as part of your everyday life at work, 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.

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