What's one common factor that is shared by all successful businesses? Their ability to make ambitious but realistic plans, and then deliver on them.
But this is easier said than done. It’s all well and good to make the plans, but working out how you’re going to achieve them is a whole different ball game.
This is why the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework has become so popular: it is designed to help employees and businesses achieve their goals.
But with popularity come myths... Perhaps you have heard that OKRs are too complicated, too daunting, and altogether problematic?
Well, we’re here to challenge those misconceptions, and show you that it’s definitely worth giving OKRs a go.
Myth 1: Setting an OKR for every task I have to complete would take far too long!
You’re correct! (Well, partly...)
There’s no denying that it would take an enormous amount of time to set an OKR for every single thing you have to do. But the point of OKRs isn’t to set one for every single task - OKRs are meant to be for your top priorities. Key Results shouldn’t be an exhaustive list of every thing that a team has to do.
Instead of framing OKRs as just another ‘to do list’, think of them as your highest priority items and aspirational goals to achieve. For example, instead of “Post 12 blog posts in the next month”, the KR would be “increase blog viewership by 15% this month” and would be set as a target for the whole quarter.
Myth 2: We are a small company. We don’t need OKRs! OKRs are only for companies like Google…
The truth is that OKRs can be used for a business of any size - including for just one person!
The key principles of OKRs remain the same, whatever the size of team: they break down goals into measurable steps, so you can track progress and gain clarity on what needs to be done. Whether your company has 10,000 employees like Google, or 10, or even just 1, they will work in the same way.
In fact, at a smaller sized company OKRs can have even more impact, since each individual person has more of a direct impact on company results.
All companies, no matter the size, need to focus on alignment, aiming high, and delivering goals - and this is what OKRs help to achieve.
Myth 3: There is no point in a system where the aim is to achieve 70%. Why not just set a realistic target and then aim for 100%?
According to OKR philosophy, hitting around 70% (as opposed to 100%) of your OKRs is the ideal percentage to achieve. The logic behind this is that if you’re achieving 100% of your OKRs, then your objectives are not ambitious enough. OKRs are designed to inspire you to strive for the best results possible.
Setting an ambitious goal is far more effective in encouraging people to achieve the best and push past their potential, as opposed to setting an easily achievable goal which will require little effort, just to say that the goal has been completed. Think of it like this: “Aim for the moon, and you’ll land among the stars!”.
Myth 4: Achievement or failure to achieve OKRs should have an impact on how an employee’s performance is reviewed.
It’s important to remember that OKRs should not be used for evaluating employees, but for empowering them to perform at their peak. Whether an employee has or hasn’t achieved their OKRs shouldn’t affect whether or not they’re assigned a bonus or promotion.
If you attach a monetary reward to the achievement of goals then an employee is far less likely to set an ambitious target. Think of it like this: Employee A sets an easy OKR for herself and achieves 110% of it, while Employee B sets a challenging OKR for herself and achieves only 78% of it. Overall, Employee B has more success, even if the success-measuring percentages do not show this.
Myth 5: Breaking down company-wide OKRs into achievable goals for each employee is too complicated.
There’s a common misconception that it is the senior employees’ responsibility to come up with OKRs for everyone else. This isn’t the case. In fact, the whole idea of OKRs is that each person is responsible for setting and achieving their own OKR. This means that the onus does not fall on one person, and the responsibility is dispersed amongst everyone in the company.
The end result is that there is much greater cohesion and alignment within the company, with each employee becoming aware of how their work will contribute to the overall company goal.
Myth 6: OKRs don’t allow for flexibility! I don’t want to waste my time planning them, only for my goal to change one month into the quarter…
We understand that a business environment is fast paced, and that adaptation and change might be necessary at some points. However, if you’ve chosen a good North Star Metric, i.e. the one overall company objective, then everything else should fall into place. If the overall goal is clear, then each company member should also have an idea of what they can do to help get that goal achieved.
Ultimately, if you find that you have set the wrong goal and it’s having the wrong effects, then you will always have the power to change it. It’ll be rare that this is ever the case, but you can decide what should be the next focus, decide the new OKRs and start working towards achieving them.
Myth 7: I have to set up OKRs within my company all by myself, I feel overwhelmed and I don’t know where to begin!
There are a lot of helpful resources out there to get to grips with OKRs, and we hope that you’ve found this article helpful too. Beyond that, if you choose the right performance management system which offers setting and tracking OKRs, then they should be a breeze.
Learn Amp software allows you to set company OKRs and assign them through every level of your business, along with features such as a traffic lights system and reminders to help you track progress towards your crucial results.
So... What's next?
We hope we’ve managed to challenge the common misconceptions around OKRs, and at the same time shown some of their benefits.
OKRs are an effective framework for boosting business performance on a top level, as well as driving employee performance at an individual level. To find out more about how OKRs can help improve your business, visit https://learnamp.com/ or request a demo with us today.