Achieve Radical Focus

Alignment and Engagement with OKRs

Introduction

About Objectives and Key Results

OKRs are a simple but powerful way to focus your team on achieving ambitious goals.OKRs distill the fuzziest of objectives into clear, measurable, and time-bound accomplishments that everyone can understand.
Leading businesses like Intel, Google, and LinkedIn have used them effectively for years. The OKR method helps teams set priorities, make faster decisions, provide transparency across the organization, and keep everyone focused on what matters most. OKRs are typically done at three levels: organizational, team, and individual level.

How OKRs help achieve radical focus, speed of execution and accountability?

The main benefits of using OKRs include accountability, alignment, focus, prioritization, transparency, execution speed, culture, and teamwork.

According to John Doerr, The highest performing companies all think strategically about what they will do —and equally importantly—they think operationally about how they will do it.

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At the end of every quarter, OKRs get shared transparently throughout the organization. It means that everyone knows what everyone else is working on and can hold each other accountable. OKRs must be both public and meaningful. That encourages people to prove their worth through accomplishments rather than promises or quick wins.

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Prioritization ensures that tasks do not become lost in the shuffle, as OKRs allow managers to keep track of all their team members activities.

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Accountability means employees can better predict what needs to be done for their team members to succeed. Alignment allows managers to coach their employees on how their actions support the company's; overall strategy. Focus equates to increased productivity because employees know what they need to do, leading to better accomplishment.

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Execution speed focuses on getting things done instead of wasting time debating goals or their importance and eradicates conflicting goals by everyone having a singular focus.

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Alignment comes through common goals at all levels allowing employees to communicate across divisions or departments to work together towards a unified goal.

How OKRs help in prioritization?

Setting an OKR requires three things. Identifying a unit of focus what will you change, one or more objectives what do you want to change it to how will you measure your progress, and one or more key results how are you going to make the change. For example, a team may want to improve their on-time service deliveries from 90% on average to 95%. The objective would be to improve on-time delivery, with a target of 95%, one metric for success.

By clearly defining objectives and key results, one can hold people accountable for their work. They can also measure whether or not they have met the objective. Finally, being clear about priorities allows team members to focus on doing what matters most rather than getting distracted by other tasks available at a given time.

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How OKRs help achieve alignment?

According to a Harvard Business Review, companies with highly aligned employees are more than twice as likely to be top performers.

In a command and control structured organization, goals are set at the top and handed downwards with strict focus on goal cascade.

Agility, flexibility and creativity become a casualty when strict cascading is practiced.

Modern, agile organizations encourage a healthy balance between alignment and autonomy, common purpose and creative latitude.

As companies become large and intricate and projects or initiatives require complex orchestration of interdependent teams, unacknowledged dependencies remain the number one cause of project slippage.

When OKRs call out cross functional dependencies in a transparent and visible manner, troubled spots can be attacked quickly and localized innovations can be extrapolated as best practices.

Whilst 100% autonomy is utopian, a 50-50 mix of top- down and bottom-up goals help teams innovate and thrive.

Implementing OKRs

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Determine the most important goals of your organization.

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Come up with key results for each goal. For each key result, list the measurable attribute that best defines it.

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Prioritize which objectives and key results are most important at a given time.

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Measure how well you are doing on your key results regularly.

Common OKR Mistakes

Why OKRs fail?

#1

Determine the most important goals of your organization.

Many people fail at OKRs because they haven not gained employee buy-in for this process. One way to do this is by providing a common language that everyone understands and can rally behind, such as safety, customer satisfaction, or innovation. At Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, the common OKR language is tied into employee work descriptions.

#2

Using OKRs as a task list

Often people fail at OKRs because they are micromanaged or end up serving two masters. If you think that your manager wants an endless list of tasks done, then you have got the wrong manager. When it comes to OKRs, less is always more. Write them for yourself, and no one else should be able to read them (no peeking).

The objectives guide what you do. Ensure they are actionable, specific, measurable, and realistic. It will ensure that your team leader knows what is expected from your work, making it easier for them to give recognition when it is due.

#3

Failure to set clear expectations

Another reason people fail with OKRs is that they do not communicate them within their team. To make sure you understand your OKRs, it helps to go through the exercise of explaining them in a sentence or two aloud. If you cannot explain them clearly and succinctly, there is a good chance that others will not be able to either.

#4

Setting unattainable goals

People who create unattainable goals miss out on opportunities to assess themselves honestly. Remember the SMART acronym? Goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. If you have ever set an objective that did not meet these criteria, your results will likely suffer.

#5

Setting too many goals

Scope creep is when people try to do too much or broaden their objectives after setting them. We know how difficult it can be to prioritize activities in a day. However, it is something you need to do if goals take up too much time. In short, OKRs can help your organization be more focused and efficient by keeping everyone on task. Have 1 to 3 Objectives and 3 to 5 Key Results per quarter.

#6

Holding people accountable for OKRs they did not set

People fail with OKRs when no one steps up to accept responsibility for a missed goal or objective. Everyone has a stake in the outcome of your work—and how well it goes will depend on whether others are willing to have an honest conversation with you.

#7

Failing to focus on priorities

At most businesses, priorities are set by senior leaders each year and they are agreed upon across the organization through internal alignment processes. Teams revisit OKRs to ensure they support these top business objectives. Otherwise, there is a risk of getting tripped up when trying to achieve things that are not of high priority.

Why are we telling you all these?

If you have a structured business and are looking for some guidance with how to implement OKR framework well, Huminos is just the right place for you.

Huminos is a comprehensive performance conversations platform that helps your employees to achieve impactful outcomes, even if they are working remotely. Features like OKRs, 1:1 conversations, feedbacks, reflections, and pulse allow you to plan and measure work that really matters to your company.

Get a FREE 14-day trial of the OKR software to understand how well it fits your business needs.

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