OKR Implementation Guide

Once you’ve learned the basics of the OKR methodology, the next step is to start implementing it. When implementing OKRs, it’s important to do so in advance, starting a few weeks before the coming quarter to make the most out of the methodology.

The first thing to do is to make decisions about which teams and individuals will use OKRs 

Some common structures include:

Pilot Team

By only focusing on one team, you can work out any kinks in your cycle before introducing it to everyone. Likewise, you’ll get a mini version of what your OKR levels will look like, so you can predict how OKRs will work for the rest of your company. 

Team Leaders Only

By starting OKRs with Team Leaders only, you can work out OKRs between the two highest levels first. This simplifies the process when you add other later. But, it also means that it will take at least two quarters to onboard everyone.

Everyone

Starting everyone out using OKRs at once can be incredibly daunting, but is suitable for SMEs or companies with flat hierarchies. It takes 2-3 quarters to fully see the value of OKRs, so getting everyone started means seeing results sooner. 

1-2 Weeks Before Starting with OKRs

First, start by defining your Quarterly Company level Objectives. You may also want to have longer term Annual Objectives that connect to the Quarterly ones. However, this is optional. 

Another thing to note is to keep Annual Objectives at the Company level. Annual Objectives shouldn’t be used by lower levels or you lose the agility factor of using OKRs.

When starting out with OKRs, it’s important to remember that you should only focus on a few high level Objectives. In this case, we would suggest setting 1-3 and discussing them with managers, team leads, and whoever else is involved in the change to OKRs so everyone agrees on the most important goals for the company. 

Example:You have an annual Objective to “increase company growth.” So, for the first Quarter, your focus regarding this goal will be to “understand and analyze our customers better” or “create a better workplace for our employees.” These Quarterly Objectives help you realize your Annual Objectives by looking for the positive outcomes of better aiding customers or staff. 

You can then repeat this process at the team level. At the team level, team leads should consult their team members to decide on team-important goals while team leads should make sure that these goals align with the Company Objectives. 

Tip! Write Key Results, Not TasksLet’s say you are organizing an event. There are a series of tasks that need to get done to do so, for example, you may need to rent a venue, book a band, organize someone to host, hire catering, etc. These are tasks, not Key Results. Your Key Results should measure the impact of the entire event. 

For example, your Key Results can be to “sell 2000 tickets”, “get a 4.5/5 rating from TripAdvisor,”, “achieve renown at 5 different news channels”, or “have 50% of attendants sign up for the company newsletter and updates about the next event.” 

If you are doing Personal Objectives, connecting Team Key Results to Personal Objectives is your next step. For more on this, read the section on alignment.

The final step before finalizing OKRs is a final round of feedback where Objectives and Key Results can be added, deleted, or changed.

Weekly Check-Ins

It is incredibly important during the implementation process to check up on how everyone is doing on their OKRs. Do not wait until the end of the quarter to do this, as OKRs are a continuous evaluation process. Likewise, if no one is checking in on their OKRs, they will probably forget about them, destroying all the hard work you put into setting them in the first place.

Read more about this in the section on OKRs and Weekly Planning. 

Once a Month

Make sure to have a meeting outside of weekly status reports as well. This meeting should be between managers and team leads with the purpose of identifying problems and brainstorming ways to fix them.

1-2 Weeks Before the End of the Quarter

At this point, the entire company should review the Company Objectives to see the progress that has been made towards them at every level. It’s definitely a good idea to gather some input on this quarter’s OKRs and ideas for the following quarter.

Good Questions to Ask as a Team:– How did your team perform?

– If some Objectives were linked to Company Objectives, then how big was the contribution?

– Were the OKRs set a good choice for the team? Did they help the team make improvements for the team as well as the company?

– If the OKRs failed, then why?

– What were the challenges this quarters?

– Lessons learned – what can be done better next time?

– What are some ideas for the upcoming quarter?

– Are the KRs outcomes driving the Objective forward?

– Could we have better KRs next quarter?

Good Questions for Company Review– How did the company move forward in achieving company goals?

– Were the results satisfactory?

– Which teams performed the best?

– How do you support teams that did not succeed? 

– Did people feel motivated working with their OKRs?

– Was the focus clear to everybody?