Top 10 Questions Managers Have About OKR Goal Setting

Kate Devyatkina
Jul 8 · 6 min read

Starting to work with OKR methodology, company faces series of challenges and indefinites.

Usually managers generate questions times faster than answers, and sometimes they just want to quit everything. This difficult OKR may seem after first efforts.

In reality, OKR is not so difficult as it seems — if to look into this in more details then implementation and work with this goals achievement framework is quite simple.

In this article we’ll look at 10 the most popular questions of managers who were to implement OKR in the company.

1. What are the key benefits of OKR?

Work with OKR make an organization more clear, flexible and adapted to changes. In its turn, company employees who have suchlike qualities are more involved in achieving organizational goals. It becomes simpler to cascade goals from the common ones, which are connected with company development to department, team and personal goals.

Besides, quarterly planning and weekly reports allow to the company and employees focusing on important tasks, setting priorities in the work and before all gaining high results.

2. What’s the best time to start using OKRs?

Monday, 9am😅

if talking serious, companies can apply OKR at different stages of their development. Method is either useful for startups with 4–8 employees or big organizations with 2500 employees. What to say when the Google use it!

If you want your company focus on the things that are important in a specific period of time, results are to be grown, and employees are involved in company goals achievement — this is the best time for OKR! Find here an article when you should start using OKR.

3. How to use your OKRs, what are the first steps?

For an easy start it’s better to begin with one of the most crucial first quarter company goal. That is to say what will be your focus for three months. For example, this can be a profit growth on X%, a launch of a new product or an enter to a new market.

When your goal has been formed, set up 1–3 key results which should contain some definite metrics (money, percent, quantity). If you can’t bind it with any metrics , you can represent it as a task with “done/undone” value.

Goal within the OKR is known to be a little high (it is usually by 20–30%). That’s why you are free to set dare metrics. When the first OKR is fixed, proceed to the next 2 or 3 ones.

Note: do not set more than 3 OKRs for one unit — otherwise it can lead to the overall defocusing. Unit means a department, a team, a person. I.e. the department can have 3 OKRs and they cascades further to teams, people — as a result you get a long list and along with it you save the focus.

4. How to involve your team in goals achievement process?

Here you have a more detailed article about it, but all the same I’d like to point out several thesis. First of all, you have to show connection between company’s and employee’s OKRs. When person see that his/her goals and their achievement allow for gaining overall company results — it motivates on some activity and make you be a part of a huge project called “contribution to the common cause”.

Main OKR benefits for employees:

  • You clearly understand what is deserved to be focused on to achieve efficiency and productivity of your activity.
  • Priorities and clarity of tasks instead of unclear goals — is a perfect tool to motivate an employee.
  • Moreover you know your goals and see what your colleagues are working on (team, department, the whole company).
  • Open-source information on everyone’s focus allows to get an impersonal feedback on your results and also to give a possibility to help each other in goals achievement . (For example, I see that John is working hard on the goal to improve employer’s brand , so I can help John with my knowledge or reviews on the company within social networks).

5. Should OKRs be set bottoms-up or top-down?

At start I’d recommend to set top-down OKRs, but when cascading them into departments or teams, to involve teams in the OKRs development. In all, you can do vice versa — but it’s only possible in case the teams are not the newbies with OKR, they have passed several cycles and understand the way it works.

6. If I use KPIs, can I still use OKRs? How are Key Results different from KPIs?

Now I’ll allay your concerns — if you work with KPIs and want to transfer to OKRs for you it will be times easier that to a company which hasn’t ever worked with KPIs. That’s because KPIs have something in common with KRs. The first and the latter is the metrics that reflects an estimated result. You will just need to adapt your KPIs for OKRs format.

7. Who should keep track of OKRs?

OKR has a specific notion for this “OKR master”. This is the person whose main task is to work with OKR, track all the weekly meetings, monthly totals and quarterly updates to be held.

But existence of OKR master doesn’t preclude importance of involving team managers and departments in work with OKRs. They should monitor progress within their units, define blocks and remove them, give feedback and motivate their team on goals achievement.

8. What can I do to make OKRs more accomplishable?

So that all the set company goals get a high percent of accomplishment you should provide three aspects:

  • Limit number of goals and key results to 4 for every unit (more detailed in 3 point).
  • Add to ambitious strategic goals operational ones whose achievement probability is high (this allows for a team to be more confident in their efforts and not to be afraid about low results on ambitious tasks).
  • Hold a team meeting on progress every week and actualize your goals (probably something will turn out to be non-priority and you will pause it).
  • Share feedback on a regular basis, asking your employees what can you help them with for saving focus and achieving OKRs.

9. Can I just use spreadsheets to track OKRs?

Initially, absolutely yes.

You will study that’s why using templates in sheets is more than enough. But after the 2nd and the 3rd quarter you’ll come up that automation is everything for us. Especially, when a company has more than 30 employees and continue growing confidently.

I mentioned all the negative sides of using Google Sheets without special tool here, but in a nutshell just try this tool and you will never come back to a manual work. 😉

10. How to choose a tool to automate the work with OKR?

The best will be the tool which is tailored just for the work with goals achievement. Multipurpose HR programs will offer you modules for working with goals, but their interface and functional set is not really fits for activity with OKRs.

I recommend you to choose soft with low number of functions, which are obligatory for OKR:

  • Dashboard of all OKR
  • Sorting by departments, teams, a possibility to see goals of specific employee and the progress
  • Employee’s personal page with his/her weekly, monthly, quarterly focus
  • Notifications on the necessity to update your progress
  • Integration with messengers, mail and company services
  • An option to give feedback about your colleague or to request it
  • A possibility to request a 1on1 meeting from the manager.

Still have questions? You are free to ask them here😌

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