How to Write Quality OKRs That Support Business Growth
Do you truly know what an OKR is? Maybe you heard the term before and can't quite define it. Whatever the case may be, developing OKRs, or objectives and key results, is an essential practice toward building productivity and achieving high-reaching organizational goals.
Mainly, OKRs are the framework for determining and keeping track of your company's central objectives and their outcomes. Unlike key performance indicators (KPIs), OKRs are incredibly ambitious and aggressive.
To foster improved focus and spearhead primary company objectives, read this guide to learn how to assemble perfect OKRs.
Step #1: Identify Your Company's Direction
This step is arguably the most important. Lacking a precise understanding of your company's strategic direction will give you nothing to go on if you're tasked with composing your OKRs.
Here are tips to get you started in the right direction:
Refer to your company's annual objectives. If you aren't a high-level executive, conduct meetings with executives to consolidate company-wide goals. Google does OKRs regularly that offer employees quantifiable objectives and results.
Collaborate with your team to identify objectives that need to be accomplished. Make sure you meet with your team a few weeks before significant deadlines to get your priorities straight.
- Review your priorities shortly before any significant deadlines. This will help you to transfer any OKRs to any other assignments.
The first step in crafting brilliant OKRs is just the orientation phase. Next comes the real work of putting your thoughts and notes into writing.
Step #2: Start Writing
After the first step, writing your OKRs should be a straightforward process. With the proper context, you should fully understand the direction your company is heading in, as well as any short-term and long-term goals that need to be adequately communicated with each department.
The challenge, however, is to use precise wording to get your OKRs across effectively to your entire team. If you have a messaging framework or a company guide that includes your brand language, you can utilize these references to craft OKRs everyone can understand and gain inspiration from.
Step #3: Design Your Objectives
During the writing phase, it's crucial to design clear objectives. The best objectives tell everyone what they need to go, and it's something that your tasks are designed to accomplish.
Objectives should always be brief, memorable, and directional. For example, here is an example of a sufficient objective for your marketing department: "develop high-performance landing pages."
As you can see, objectives are concise and direct teams on where to go. In contrast, key results tell your collaborators how everyone can get there and accomplish a company-wide goal. For example, LinkedIn makes use of OKRs to connect their employees to the overall organization mission.
Step #4: Think Through Your Key Results
Key results are similar to KPIs, but they have a target. Solid key results provide feedback without actually doing so. Here is an example of what that means.
Let's say that the objective of your marketing department is to "develop high-performance landing pages."
A key result could be to "increase conversions by 15%." Your initiatives should drive this outcome. Otherwise, the key result will provide feedback in saying, "you aren't quite there yet."
Key results should be highly-ambitious but achievable, something our Upside team continues to learn through our own experiences with OKRs. While it's important to set stretch goals, be careful not to set key results so high that there's absolutely no chance of success.
Step #5: Review
When your OKRs are finished, you should iterate and review to see if they're in line. You'll be surprised how much helpful feedback and insights you can receive just by reviewing your OKRs with your team before the final draft is finished. In fast-paced environments, like startup companies, OKRs can quickly become outdated.
This is why it's essential to schedule a meeting with your collaborators when you're done developing your OKRs to ensure they're still relevant to what your company has going on.
Developing sound OKRs can lead to higher focus and collaboration to achieve essential company goals. At the end of the day, companies that thrive only do so when key objectives are met.
The purpose of OKRs is to complete objectives with overwhelming efficiency and focus.