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OKRs - what are they?

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In this article: 

OKRs - What are they? 

How do I know what my Goals should be?

Why should I implement Goals?

Setting up Goals


OKR is an acronym for Objective and Key Results, which is a goal system for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.



OKRs - What are they?


OKR is a goal system used by leading companies such as Google, LinkedIn, Intel and Twitter. OKR is the underlying framework supported by Goals. It is for defining and tracking objectives (Goals) and their outcomes. The Objective is the clearly-defined goal, while the Key Results are the specific benchmarks to ensure the achievement of that goal is "measurable and verifiable". The OKR framework aims to define the company and team Objectives along with linked and measurable Key Results to provide a critical thinking framework and ongoing discipline that seeks to ensure employees work together, focusing their efforts to make measurable contributions.



How do I know what my Goals should be? 


Goals are an encapsulation of what you need to do to achieve your company business plan. Within your plan, you will have a set of assumptions that you need to monitor and a series of actions you need to complete to allow your plan to succeed.  These form the basis of your Goals. Many organisations will already have means to track these in place such as a balanced scorecard, monthly reports and KPI monitors.  Elements of these, together with reviewing any Goals set within an existing appraisal process would typically form the basis for Key Results to associate with your Goals.


Why should I implement Goals?


The key benefit of the OKR approach is to ensure staff are contributing to the desired outcome for the business rather than simply continuing to do what they've always done. OKRs are NOT about performance management but rather focussed on organisational alignment although clearly they are an important input to it.

One-to-one meetings or check-ins have been the traditional way to keep track of progress on a daily or weekly basis but such meetings may well have action assignments that get lost and are always somewhat disconnected from reviews.  Goals help you bring all achievements and progress updates together so they can be easily traced and tracked.


Setting up Goals



Goals support any starting point for setting up Goals. Some organisations will start by setting Company Goals and using these to help shape Team Goals but it is equally valid to start with Team Goals and use the process of creating Goals to ensure these align with what the Company needs to do. Iterating at the Goal creation stage can be helpful before moving on to defining Key Results. It is also possible to set up Goals just for a single department or team without any Company Goals being set, although clearly the benefit of Goal alignment will be restricted just to that specific team.

Team Goals should be set before Personal Goals, and are likely to be the most common type of Goal. All members of a Team share responsibility for the delivery of a Team Goal and it will appear in each member’s Goal Dashboard. Only where the delivery of a Goal is expressly the responsibility of one person does it make sense for a Personal Goal to be set. Note that it is possible for a Personal Goal to be shared with other individuals to cover specific circumstances requiring this, but the normal approach is to focus on Team Goals with Personal Goals owned by an individual.

Goal alignment is the key to deriving value from Goals since momentum in an organisation comes from seeing how everyone is contributing to each other’s success which in turn results in the success of the overall group.


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