OKR is a management tool to drive execution on your annual operating plan and strategic priorities. This goal-setting framework is different from the tradition KRA/KPI goals in a way that the starting point of OKR is your CEO/Company goals, not Job Descriptions and Roles.
While in theory, the OKR framework looks good, but many companies fail to implement the OKR successfully. Here I am sharing the 7 steps we believe and have seen are critical for successful implementation:
- Be brutally honest about why you want to implement OKR? Is it only because Google or Intel has implemented it? Or is it because your existing business KPI’s are sitting in silos and/or your annual goal-setting exercise is a checklist activity and doesn’t add any value to company growth and setting accountability at work?
- Create a core leadership team for implementation. This team should consist of 3 members (1) CEO (2) Strategy Head/Corporate Planning Head/COO/Marketing Head (3) HR Head. This team should be the one who has the horizontal understanding of your business and company. And this is the team who will drive and manage the change of implementing OKR across the company.
- Get your CXO’s and managers OKR ready: Getting ready for OKR means imparting the training to managers and business heads about what is OKR, how it’s different from traditional KRA/KPI’s, and how it will help the company achieve required focus, alignment and accelerated execution. The primary focus of this training should be to enable the manager to come up with their own OKR’s . Don’t try to push the OKR’s from the top. You should just be supplying the guiding force and contours under which OKR should be created.
- Set the OKR cycle: The guiding literature around the internet suggest and promote quarterly OKR’s. Which should be the case if your company is disciplined and ready to put the effort at the start of every quarter to create OKR’s. But to start with, we at qilo recommend the 6-month cycle approach. For the first time, set OKR’s for the next 6 months, observer the adoption, quality of OKR and then reduce the cycle frequency to quaterly.
- Set OKR format and timeliness to share the OKR’s : Even if you involve your company in the entire process, people still will forget to share their OKR’s internally. A good format is simple yet powerful in a way that to forces people to make a write inspirational Objectives and quantifiable Key Results. Pro tip: Setting a quantifiable Key result is the key to successful implementation. Your training should help your managers and employee to put in more quantifiable key results that push people to go beyond what they can achieve at ease.
- Communicate the review frequency up-front: This again depends and directly linked with the OKR cycle. If your OKR cycle is quarterly, close the cycle with OKR review and probably in the same review, ask the manager and employee to come up with their next quarter OKR’s.
- Answer what’s in for me from an employee perspective: At employee end, what works is (a) greed- the greed of going to the next level and earning more money (b) to bring meaning to their work. As a company when you implement OKR, it can help you to achieve both.
Implementing OKR by taking it as the guiding principle. And the beautiful thing about OKR is it much more meaningful for company, managers, and employees, help you to bring accountability at work and accelerate execution. But remember, what works for other companies might not work for you. You can and should always customize it based on your requirement.
Read this post to check why OKR implementation fails