August 24, 2021

Why your OKR program needs leadership buy-in

Lucy Hitz
Lucy Hitz

Want a successful OKR program? Start at the top.

When your whole executive team is bought in from the beginning, you’ll be able to reap the many benefits of OKRs, including organizational alignment, focus, accountability, and–every executive’s favorite–performance. 

OKR benefits your leaders care about

The OKR structure benefits every group in your business: executives, team managers, and individual contributors.


But which specific benefits of OKRs are most important to executives?

In our 2021 Goal Management Report, executives ranked their top three reasons for implementing a goal framework as “less time wasted,” “more revenue” and “a higher performing team.”

Executives see these benefits come to life when employees are aligned, focused, and accountable. That’s what an OKR program brings. Without a goal framework in place, employees become lost, distracted, unmotivated, and unproductive—especially on distributed teams. This means wasted time, money, and effort—in addition to lost opportunity from a lack of creativity and innovation. 

Why executive buy-in matters for setting OKRs

OKR programs are most successful when they’re embraced at the top and cascade down to the rest of the organization. This allows executives to guide big-picture strategies that align with the organizational mission, vision, and values. 


From there, teams and individuals will have context for how their goals should be developed and what the priorities are for the organization. This allows employees to purposefully develop OKRs that will make the big-picture strategies a reality.

The beauty of building an OKR program in Ally is that there’s transparency at every level of the organization. That means all goals are open, and progress is visible to everyone. 

The result? Aligned, innovative teams, who are empowered to drive their business forward.

We see this reflected in the data from our Goal Management Survey: 93% of customers say they feel aligned with their coworkers, and 88% of them feel empowered to take risks.

Without a goal framework in place, these numbers plummet to 72% and 53%, respectively. Report

So, what can leaders actually do to help ensure these benefits are realized with their OKR program?

How leaders can drive OKR results

Leaders set the tone in an organization and are therefore critical to the adoption of any new program. Here are some ways leaders in your organization can contribute to a culture that embraces your OKR program:

  • Visibly model and champion the OKR program. Leaders should begin Town Halls or company all-hands meetings with a review of organizational OKRs. This focuses everyone on the goals you’ve set out to achieve and signals the importance of OKRs in accomplishing those goals.

    Email communications and newsletters should also include a mention of OKRs and are a fantastic opportunity to celebrate progress that has been made. This can boost morale and employee engagement in the program. 

  • Celebrate retrospection and normalize failure. In, OKRs are either committed or aspirational. The aspirational ones are a stretch – meaning they’re designed to be challenging, and there’s a chance they won’t be met. Leaders can encourage teams to set these goals and to use them as an opportunity to “fail forward.” This means learning from what went wrong so you can get closer to achieving the desired results during your next OKR review cycle
  • Create space for improvement. Share company OKRs at the beginning of every planning cycle and invite feedback from team leaders. Goal-setting is an iterative process that only gets better with collaboration over time.

When you get all leaders on board, your organization will quickly see the value of an OKR program. There’s much to gain, and the steps it takes to get there are entirely manageable. If you want to learn more about how to successfully adopt OKRs, check out our guide here.

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