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How to Use OKRs to Plan Your Day-to-day Work

Let’s Start with the Basics

For those that may be new to OKRs, you’re not alone! We’ve developed a helpful article that covers the basics and offers some best practices to help you get started. Check it out here.

Now as we dive deeper into how to use OKRs for your company, department or employees, it’s important to note that they are a strategic planning tool and strategic outcomes are usually not urgent, like our emails and daily to-dos. OKRs focus our attention on the objective, or outcome, we want to get to and the key results that will tell us we got there. In other words, the work we do day-to-day gets us to our key results. 

Let’s break that down a bit further, using a real-life example.

The Difference Between Objectives, Key Results and Daily To-do Lists

Meet Mary. At the start of the year, Mary visits the doctor who tells her she needs to improve her health.  Her blood pressure is too high, her cholesterol is too high and she’s pushing the healthy weight range on her BMI. 

Those elements that are too high are indicators of Mary’s health, similar to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the business world. So, Mary then goes about creating an OKR to improve her health. It looks like this:

Objective 

To be in better health. That’s the outcome of all the work she’ll do over the next three months. 

But, how does Mary know the work she will do ultimately gets her closer to better health? Those are her Key Results. Now here’s where most of us get hung up — Mary’s Key Results are NOT her blood pressure rating, cholesterol rating or current BMI. Remember those are INDICATORS of whether she’s made it to the outcome of better health. Mary’s Key Results are activities that reduce her blood pressure, cholesterol and BMI. 

Key Results

  • Increase the number of meals with fruits and vegetables from 10 to 20 each week
  • Increase the number of steps each day to 10,000
  • Complete three workouts a week

Now that she knows what Key Results are going to move those Key Indicators of her health, Mary can plan out my day-to-day.

Day-to-day Activities

  • Eat more fruits and veggies
  • Cook 20 healthy meals a week
  • Plan and walk more each day
  • Schedule three workouts a week
  • Sign up for a gym or classes
  • Purchase new running shoes

All those little tasks that will make it possible for Mary to achieve those key results. 

Now as she moves through the quarter, Mary is eating more fruits and vegetables, walking 10,000 steps a day and working out. At her annual physical, her doctor finds that her blood pressure and cholesterol have dropped but her BMI hasn’t changed. Those indicators tell Mary if her Key Results are moving me in the right direction. Some are, while some aren’t as effective as they can be. So, she increases the number of workouts per week from three to four as a result. 

Align Your Organization with Objectives

OKRs help us articulate the outcome or Objective we want to achieve and the Key Results that tell us how we are going to get there. Then we plan our day-to-day work around achieving those Key Results. We use Key Indicators to ensure we are moving in the right direction and course-correct when needed. 

How Paycor Helps

Learn more about Paycor’s Career Management tools and how we can help you align goals and track your progress.