Aligning refers to the concept of thinking and setting your Objectives in a unified manner. The goal of aligning is to unify your company so everyone knows what’s going on and how every part contributes to the company’s largest goals. Often you’ll hear this intermixed with terms such as cascading, which refers to alignment from a top-down approach, or linking which refers to the action of connecting Objectives at different levels.
To really get the most out of OKRs you should consider alignment your Company, Team, and Individual goals, so everyone is working in a common direction company wide. It is even better to align your weekly plans and activities with your Objectives as well.
After aligning your OKRs, you also have the option to link them. Linking your OKRs makes it so that your accomplishment of one Objective will feed into the progress of higher-level Objectives. Linking is best done by using an OKR software but can be done in spreadsheets as well.
Aligning and linking can be a bit of a challenge, but we’re here to talk it through with you and give plenty of examples.
- Start by imagining Objectives and Key Results as a hierarchical tree.
At the top of the tree, you have Company Objectives which should be generally set by upper management or an executive team. These should define the areas that the company has decided to focus on this quarter.
An example of a Company Objective could be: Be Recognized as a Leader in Customer Satisfaction
- Underneath the Company Objectives, you have Company Key Results/Team Objectives. Teams are experts at their given function, so they can best develop Team Objectives that will align to the Company Objectives and act as Company Key Results.
An example of a Company Key Result/Team Objective for the Customer Support Team could be: Increase our Customer Satisfaction Levels
- The next level is Team Key Results/Personal Objectives. Teams can then develop what the Key Results will be for their Objectives. These Key Results can then be assigned as Personal Objectives if someone is going to be responsible for them. Alternatively, they can be left as a Team Objective if it’s something that the team lead wants to track for the entire team.
An example of a Team Key Result that can be turned into a Personal Objective could be:
Recruit 2 Additional Support Staff
An example of a Team Key Result that should stay on the team level could be:
Reduce Average Response Time from 65 Minutes to 45 Minutes
- Finally, the last level is Personal Key Results. Personal Key Results should be discussed and finalized in a 1:1 meeting between the individual and their team manager.
An example of a Personal Key Result could be:
Interview 5 Potential Candidates
Linked together in a hierarchy the example Objectives would look like this:
Company : Be Recognized as a Leader in Customer Satisfaction
Team : Increase our Customer Satisfaction Levels
Team KR: Reduce Average Response Time from 65 Minutes to 45 Minutes
Personal Objective: Recruit 2 Additional Support Staff
Personal KR: Interview 5 Potential Candidates
You can read more about Creating and Aligning OKRs in our OKR linking, aligning and cascading guide.