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OKRs: 7 Tips on How to Set Your Objectives and Key Results

One Minute Takeaway

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) are a great tool for companies
  • Employees need to know how best to utilize the methodology
  • We offer seven tips to make the most out of OKRs

If your organization has adopted the Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) methodology, congratulations! It’s a tried and tested way to set and achieve goals. Now, here’s the bad news: no goal-setting methodology can succeed without buy-in and alignment from every level of your organization.

It all starts with executives, who set overall objectives. These might be annual, quarterly or even monthly—it depends on your company. What matters is that the objectives are clearly communicated to managers, who are then responsible for setting their own goals and aligning their teams. Only then can employees define their own individual objectives for which they’ll be held accountable.

OKRs Best Practices

Creating goals that inspire your people and produce results takes real skill. But it can be just as difficult for employees to find objectives that are measurable and align with the bigger picture of what your company is trying to achieve. If employees are new to OKRs, it can be easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why we’ve collected these tips:

  1. Keep it Simple
    Focus on objectives you know you can achieve in the given timeframe. Many employees think they need to contribute to every department objective and end up spreading themselves too thin. Prioritize your objectives according to what the business needs most. Remember, there’s no magic number for how many objectives you should have—it depends how complex they are, as well as the time and resources available.
  2. Be Specific
    When setting objectives, brainstorm different ways you can reach the end result. Draw out your action plan to be more specific on how to achieve your objective. For each key result, think about how performance can be evaluated. The more specific you are, the clearer expectations will be. Concise objectives mean you’ll know exactly what’s needed to complete your goals.
  3. Cascade Your Objectives
    A common problem for employees setting objectives is struggling to see how their jobs contribute to overall organizational goals and success. How does a payroll clerk help their company reach 10,000 users? The solution is to cascade your objectives: from an organization level, to the department level and finally to an individual level.
  4. Make it Measurable
    Key results need a unit of measurement. It doesn’t matter what: it could be to write 10 blogs per month or to reach $10,000 in revenue. What you’re trying to avoid is a situation where you’re not sure whether a goal has really been reached or not. Managers and employees can meet 1:1 to add metrics to quantifiable goals.
  5. Don’t Worry About Stretch Goals
    Goals should be attainable yet challenging. Sometimes managers worry that easy goals will be de-motivating. But are stretch goals are a good idea? It all depends how realistic they are. If you use bonuses to motivate employees, they won’t be happy being set impossible challenges. Ambitious goals are great, but don’t set employees up for failure.
  6. Break Key Results into Smaller Goals
    Create mini-goals within your key results. Knowing what you have to do to achieve your key results makes objectives more specific. These mini-goals act as milestones through your progress. When goals are too broad, it can be hard to maintain focus on achieving them—these steps along the way help you stay on track.
  7. Celebrate and Recognize
    Reward and recognize yourself and others when a milestone has been reached. Positive reinforcement helps sustain best practice. Don’t wait until the very end of an objective to recognize effort—celebrate incremental progress too.Encourage all co-workers to share their OKRs publicly and create a support system within your team.

How Paycor Helps

Paycor builds HR solutions for leaders. With Paycor, you can modernize every aspect of people management, from the way you recruit, onboard and develop your team, to the way you pay and retain them. See how Paycor can help the leaders of your organization solve the problems of today and tomorrow.