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OKR 101

7 OKR best practices

A solid OKR program can do wonders for your organization, especially when it ensures that every employee is working towards the same ultimate objectives. Here are a few best practices to keep in mind when you’re getting started so you can be sure to get the most out of your OKR program.

Get everyone on board.

Since OKRs aim to affect big picture goals, it is important that they are universally adopted throughout an organization—especially by leadership. To harness the power of the OKR methodology, everyone should be on board working toward the same overarching goals. 

In addition to keeping your goals aligned, working toward OKRs as a team will also help strengthen the three core elements of company culture: mission, vision, and values.

okr best practices

If you find that you do not have strong buy-in from one or more departments, it’s time to sit down with hesitant team members to figure out why. Get feedback early on so that everyone is on the same page with where your organization is headed and how you will get there. 

Learn more about how to get OKR buy-in from your team with these helpful resources:

How To Get Buy-In For OKRs 

Why Your OKR Program Needs Leadership Buy-In 

How To Roll Out OKRs On Your Marketing Team

Why Your Sales Team Needs OKRs 

Provide context to build alignment.

Company-wide alignment is a critical component to the overall health and success of an OKR program. ‍Objectives and key results should cascade down from the top of the organization all the way down to the individual contributor. This way, each employee clearly understands how their work contributes to the big picture.

okr best practices

OKRs should be developed from the top-down, then cascade down across teams. From there, a bottom-up approach is taken when teams understand the core areas of focus, and are given creative freedom to draft many of their own Objectives and Key Results.

Daily tasks need to clearly connect to overarching goals and strategies so that everyone is clear on why each OKR was chosen. Team meetings should be held to discuss these connections and spread ideas on how contributors can collaborate to achieve a strong impact.  

Check out our guide to learn more about how OKRs connect daily work to business goals.

Write OKRs that work.

The way you write your objectives and key results can impact your success with the methodology, so it’s important to do it right. There are a few things you can keep in mind that will help you write better OKRs.

okr best practices

First, you should know the difference between objectives, which state where you want to go, and key results, which tell you how you’re going to get there. Next, remember that simple is always better when it comes to OKRs. Finally, you need to make sure your OKRs are measurable, actionable and ambitious

This is easier said than done, and writing OKRs can be challenging—especially for beginners. Utilizing existing OKR examples and templates can help you see how an OKR should be written, while also providing a starting point for writing your own. 

To get an in-depth look at how to write OKRs, check out this blog post on the topic.

For extra guidance on setting ambitious OKRs, here are a few resources you might find helpful:

How To Set Aspirational Goals For Your Organization 

How to Use the Right OKR Types for the Right Reasons

Establish a rhythm.

Without a standard pattern in place, it can be difficult to make OKRs stick. And if OKRs don’t stick, then you won’t reap the rewards of the OKR methodology, and you’ll be less likely to achieve your goals. That’s why rhythm is often the differentiator between successful and lackluster OKR programs.

okr best practices screenshot

From daily check-ins to quarterly reviews to end of cycle reflection and scoring, these milestones will become your “OKR rhythm.” At a high level, the best way to think about OKR rhythms is that they include time to plan, time to execute, and time to reflect. When fully incorporated into your OKR program, these elements are what will inform and drive the execution and adoption of this methodology. 

These eBooks are great places to start creating a rhythm for your business:

Planning & Retros eBook

Enabling OKR Champions eBook

Check in frequently.

OKRs should be measured and discussed on a frequent basis. This enables teams to carefully monitor the progress of each OKR, and to remain proactive when objectives fall behind or become at risk.

Learn how to conduct effective OKR meetings.

Check-in meetings should discuss organization-wide progress to help eliminate silos and address issues more efficiently. To make the best use of your time, have your team go over goals they are struggling with first. Addressing any at-risk or behind objectives first puts the most important tasks that need to be completed at the forefront. 

Integrations make check-ins second nature for your team. Consider using an OKR tool that allows data to flow directly from the systems you work in every day. 

Leverage a strong OKR tool.‍

Trying to keep track of your goals on manual spreadsheets can be overwhelming — not to mention hard to scale. That’s why it’s a good idea to use an OKR tool to keep everything organized and your goals on track.

Ally.io will help you turn goals into results without all the manual work. Built with these best practices in mind, your OKR program will be sure to succeed. Learn more about the benefits of using a goal tracking tool like Ally.io. 

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