Essentially, OKRs are a way to set company objectives and then establish how each employee will contribute to those goals. While the process sounds simple, there are certain characteristics that make OKRs unique, including:
Transparent. Company and employee goals are viewable to everyone inside the company. It’s important to know what people are working on so they can better collaborate.
Frequent. Business moves fast, so it’s important for employees to set new OKRs every quarter.
Measurable. To be effective, OKRs need to be measurable. For example, a good, measurable OKR for a salesperson would be to close 20 new accounts or increase revenue 30%.
Ambitious. Each employee’s OKR should always be a bit of a stretch. At Google, the goal is to achieve only 60%-70% of the intended result each quarter. This keeps everyone thinking big and provides goals for the following quarter.
Focused. Employees should only have three to give goals each quarter. Any more than that can be overwhelming.
Top down and bottom up. Employee goals can and should help shape subsequent company goals. OKRs open up communication across the company about what’s important.
Not reviews. OKRs are not intended to replace performance reviews or other forms of ongoing feedback. The point of OKRs is to help get everyone in the company aligned and moving in a similar direction.
OKRs are a simple yet powerful management technique well suited for companies that are growing fast and may have teams across multiple locations. To learn more about how Google uses OKRs to manage performance, watch this video.