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OKRs Methodology for Building a High-Performance Company Culture

OKRs high performing teams

OKRs, also known as objectives and key results methodology, is a great goal-setting tool helping you to build a culture of high performing teams.

As mentioned in the title, OKRs focus on setting goals for teams, not for individuals. A popular misconception when it comes to OKRs is seeing it as a performance review tool, instead of a business performance one. Do you see the difference? That means that under no circumstance you should link OKRs with employees’ compensation.

OKRs focus on setting goals for teams, not for individuals.

We’ve prepared a basic template for you to start defining your OKRs, which you can download here.

But before you get started, let’s dive deeper into the methodology, its benefits, and most importantly, how you can link it to your company culture.

Benefits of OKRs

Defining goals, create an action plan and maintain focus

OKRs include three elements: objectives, key results and initiatives:

  • Objectives set a clear direction. A well written objective is ambitious, significant and inspiring. An objective answers to the question Where do we want to go?
  • Key results measure progress. Key results celebrate positive impact on the performance of a specific metric. A good key result answers the question How will we know we can celebrate?
  • Initiatives refer to the actual work that needs to be done to achieve your objectives and key results.

OKRs framework keeps you from losing focus, by simplifying the decision making process on what’s important and what’s background noise. Now, when we live in a world full of possibilities, when things are changing at a crazy speed, OKRs help you maintain focus by also creating space for innovation and agility.

Measuring progress and generating behavioral change

Effective key results measure progress toward the objective by positively impacting the performance of the relevant metric. Well defined key results will help you measure success, instead of documenting and tracking the outcome or effort that was done to achieve something.

Foster collaboration, alignment and transparency

Well defined objectives and key results will encourage collaboration. In other words, identify powerful and relevant OKRs and align individual, teams and company goals to business strategy and success.

Effective OKRs that encourage collaboration cannot be achieved on an individual level. Hence, another benefit is that it increases the level of transparency amongst teams. And as a result, the level of employees’ engagement and motivation increases, fostering belonging to a common purpose and community.

Effective OKRs cannot be achieved on an individual level. They encourage collaboration.

Unquestionably, OKRs will lead to cascading to individual goals as well. Hence, giving you a great opportunity to treat your employees as adults, who are responsible, accountable and autonomous but yet, team players.

What might go wrong?

Defining OKRs and stopping here won’t lead you to success. One of the mistakes made when defining OKRs is actually planning without revising the progress and concluding on what went well and what didn’t work. Connect with your people. Ask for feedback. Give feedback.

Another mistake is addressing the OKRs methodology as a top-down approach, instead of a collaborative and bottom-up one. With the assumption that you hired smart people, let them do their magic. Involve them as much as you can. Spotlight their knowledge, experience, competencies, mindset and creativity.

Setting ambitious objectives and stretched key results doesn’t mean overworking your people to burnout. Make sure your objectives are achievable, time-framed and inspiring.

OKRs and culture

So where do you start? The answer is simple. With your higher purpose. What’s your company vision, mission and values? How are you actually doing things within the company? Why are you here?

Then, use the OKRs methodology to skyrocket toward your mission and vision. In other words, OKRs and culture should go hand in hand. Since we’ve already agreed that culture is everyone’s responsibility, involve your team in defining OKRs. Undoubtedly, you, as CEO, as leader, have a more strategic perspective and you are the one giving the direction. However, your team is the one who is closer to the end user, to the daily workarounds and activities. You might be shocked how much contribution and what difference their input might make.

Additionally, involving your team into defining effective objectives and key results will increase their sense of belonging, making them feel part of something bigger than just doing their job.

For additional examples and guidance check the official website of the “Measure what matters” book written by John Doerr. Or our template mentioned above. However, we do encourage you to ask yourself first: Why are you here? Where do you want to go? How will you know it’s celebration time? What work needs to be done to get there?

Involving your team into defining effective OKRs will increase their sense of belonging, making them feel part of something bigger than just doing their job.

And most importantly, set time to periodically revise your OKRs, your progress, what went well and what not? What lessons have you learned? Then, re-iterate in the next quarter with new OKRs.

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