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How To Write Effective OKRs That Get Results

Every successful business has goals. Some of them might be internal such as establishing a good relationship with employees and building a great culture. Others are external, like delivering an outstanding customer experience or successfully rolling out a product. Achieving those goals requires diligent planning and hard work. To map out your organizational goals and set out to accomplish them, you need to understand how to write OKRs. By setting up clear objectives and key results, everyone in your company will know where you’re headed and how to track the progress getting there. In addition, OKRs make your goals measurable and actionable. 

Since getting the hang of OKRs might be confusing, check our guide and learn what makes a good OKR and how to pick the right objectives and key results.  

What Makes a Good OKR?

OKRs should describe your organization’s top priorities within a specific time frame, usually 30 to 90 days. Moreover, they should represent a meaningful difference, change, and growth. Let’s see what differentiates good OKRs from bad OKRs:

Measurable — good OKRs are measurable. You should always find a quantifiable way to measure your progress towards the objective. If your goals and key results aren’t measurable, you’ll find it challenging to determine if your efforts have been successful. And if you don’t know whether you’ve been successful, you can’t say if your OKRs are effective or in which direction to go next. 

Ambitious — lowering expectations isn’t the right strategy with OKR planning. Quite the contrary, good OKRs are all about inspiring outstanding accomplishments, so it’s good to think big. You should even pick goals that are out of your comfort zone. For example, stretching your goals might achieve things you thought you couldn’t before. Consider objectives that are so challenging that they force the team to reconsider how they operate, pose challenging questions, and engage in previously ignored unpleasant conversations. When given stretch goals, your teams will wonder how far they can go.

Transparent — the OKRs you set need to be clear, so everyone understands them. Avoid using fancy words. Instead, be as straightforward and concise as possible and write the objectives and key results in a way that’s easily digestible and doesn’t require additional explanation. 

Time-bound — When writing OKRs, you should have a realistic time frame for accomplishment. However, keep in mind that OKRs set for shorter than a month could indicate that the goal is a task.

Consistently reviewed — the essential part of OKRs is how you use them. Revisiting the OKRs regularly will help you stay on top of things, and your team knows how they’re progressing. For optimal results, you should make OKRs reviewing part of weekly meetings or one-on-ones.

OKR Examples

If you want to see good OKRs in practice, check some of the best company-level and specific team OKRs:

Company-wide objective: Improve engagement among employees

  • Key result 1: Get an eNPS of at least four over three months 
  • Key result 2: Launch a feedback campaign and accomplish a 40% completion rate
  • Key result 3: Organize a company-wide event every quarter 

Sales team objective: Boost sales revenue per month

  • Key result 1: Enhance the number of deals from 300 to 500
  • Key result 2: Boost the average value of monthly subscriptions to $650 
  • Key result 3: Increase the close rate of demo from 60% to 70%

Marketing team objective: Enhance brand awareness

  • Key result 1: Obtain 10 new earned placements in media outlets
  • Key result 2: Publish five recent blog posts to drive 3000 new unique website visitors
  • Key result 3: Increase the number of page one search results from 14 to 22

Product team objective: Implement competitor features to enhance user experience  

  • Key result 1: Conduct a competitor analysis to learn which features we should add
  • Key result 2: Create a roadmap for developing and implementing the new features
  • Key result 3: Implement at least 60% of those features within one year 

Design team objective: Design and introduce a new lead capture page to boost conversions

  • Key result 1: Test 2 landing page designs on 100 users
  • Key result 2: Launch the new landing page by November 10
  • Key result 3: Increase the conversion rate from 10% to 25%

Customer success team objective: Boost the customer retention rate

  • Key result 1: Waiting time for calls to be reduced to 3 minutes or less
  • Key result 2: Decrease attrition rate from 15% to 7%
  • Key result 3: Employ two customer support reps to speed up customer service

Picking The Right Objectives

If you want to learn how to write OKRs, you should first master the techniques to pick the right objectives. Objectives stem from missions and outline the most important goals you need to achieve. To write effective objectives, you should make a to-do list of the top priorities for the next 30 to 90 days. Then, ask yourself what the most important things you and your team need to get done are, what you need to start changing, and how success would look.

To ensure your objectives are good, check whether they describe natural growth and meaningful change while still being realistic. Also, ensure that you’ve set ambitious goals that are written in simple terms.

How To Write Key Results

Key results are measurements that support the objectives. Writing effective key results means setting the right benchmarks to make the objective reality. Start by looking at each objective you’ve selected and think of three to five essential things that would have to change within the time frame to make that objective a reality. Then, to ensure you’ve done an excellent job, consider whether the key results you’ve written are specific, time-bound, aspirational yet realistic, measurable, and verifiable. 

Remember that key results aren’t independent goals but work as a set of goals that will bring you closer to accomplishing the objective. So if you feel like you could complete the key results and still not achieve the objective, the key results you’ve written aren’t right. The same is true if you feel like you could accomplish the objective without completing all key results.  

The Difference Between OKRs And KPIs

OKRs and KPIs are different types of goals. OKRs essentially build the roadmap toward achieving your company vision. OKR is a goal-setting framework that serves to help you decide what you need to improve in your organization and create an action plan to determine how you’ll spend your time and resources in a set period of months. 

On the other hand, Key Performance Indicators determine the factors needed to succeed in an organization or particular activity. The KPI is often used when the business provides numerical targets to achieve specific goals. These numbers are measurable targets that demonstrate how effectively your business is moving towards goals. In most organizations, KPIs are used to track all regular business activities such as revenue, website traffic, average transaction value, and sales by a person.

Essentially, KPIs help you determine what you need to analyze to determine the basis for your objectives and key results. They will also help you stay on track toward your ultimate goal. So, for optimal results, you should get your KPIs in place before you start implementing OKR. 

How to Write OKRs: The Bottom Line

OKR planning requires a bit of practice, but when you get it right, you’ll find that the method is highly beneficial for achieving organizational goals. Effective objectives and key results should represent purposeful change, growth, and improvement. They should outline your top priorities for the next one to three months. When writing them, think big. Be bold and go out of your comfort zone. Also, be sure that the objectives are inspiring for your teams. Finally, remember that key results should be as specific as possible, measurable, and time-bound.