How We Use OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) To Help Set Goals For Teams And Individuals
UPDATED: March 07, 2023
In the world of business, there are many ways you can set goals, track performance and measure outcomes. As an organization, we are always pursuing the optimal way to do those things so our team members can maximize their impact. Our quest for success led us to OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) as a companywide way to ensure our team members have the tools, insight and awareness of not only our high-level goals, but the day-to-day tactics each team is executing to achieve this shared vision.
What Are OKRs?
Objectives and Key Results were created by Intel’s Andy Grove, who then shared his knowledge with John Doerr, who wrote “Measure What Matters,” a book that explains in detail how this philosophy works. It’s utilized by many companies around the world and helps teams have a better pulse on performance on a quarterly basis so tweaks can be made when necessary.
When writing objectives, they should be memorable, qualitative descriptions of what you want to achieve. They are typically short, aspirational and motivating. Key results are a set of time-bound metrics that define how the objective will be reached, with around two to five key results usually rolling up to one objective.
Here’s an example you might consider making for yourself as a job candidate:
Objective: Launch Personal Portfolio Website
KR1: Purchase website domain by August 1
KR2: Implement content management system and design aesthetic by August 15
KR3: Upload all creative assets and add “About Me” section by September 1
What’s The Process Like?
There are four steps in the process each quarter so that teams can be agile and make adjustments:
- Creating: Craft challenging OKRs
- Monitoring: Track progress and maintain focus on execution
- Grading: Reflect on performance to inform and adapt
- Refining: Take lessons learned and tweak as needed
It’s important to note that while this is quarterly based, the performance check-ins happen biweekly and monthly so there are no surprises when quarterly grading time comes.
Has It Made A Difference?
Embracing this framework took time, dedication and a lot of collaboration within and across teams. We began in the fall of 2019 by reading Doerr’s book and challenging ourselves to craft and tweak our OKRs until they no longer looked like a list of to-dos on a sticky note and resembled the methodology we agreed to try!
We are always improving and have dedicated OKR coaches (I’m one of them!) that are available to help educate team members, facilitate training sessions and serve as a resource for crafting and refining.
There has been a noticeable increase in comfortability with OKRs, thanks to time, practice across teams and regular open communication. We have a dedicated website and set up tiers of OKRs so there’s visibility on every level of how key results ladder up to the objectives of a subteam, team, company, etc. This has also created an environment of true ownership in the productivity and outcome of goals at every level.
While these steps are often done as a team, this process has also been adopted on an individual level for our team members, called iOKRs (Individual Objectives and Key Results). We use this framework to drive our professional growth and performance evaluation at work. Some people have even started using iOKRs for personal goals, like saving money or training for marathons! Once you start utilizing OKRs, it’s easy to apply them to anything you want to achieve.
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