This guide will help you get started on creating and launching your OKR program. We recommend that you start with reviewing the resources that cover OKR features in Talent Development Pro and general best practices, then explore our guide for launching an OKR program.
Note: OKRs are only available on Talent Development Pro or Standalone Talent Development.
Quick links to help you navigate the guide:
Get to Know OKRs: feature overview & best practice resources
Launching an OKRs Program: steps to take to prepare for launch
Get to Know OKRs
OKR Features in Talent Development Pro
Here are some resources to help you get familiar with the OKR features:
OKR Best Practices
Here are some suggested best practice resources to deepen your knowledge around the OKR approach. We recommend that you use this information to familiarize yourself, and any others supporting your implementation, with this approach.
General OKR Knowledge:
A Practical Guide to OKRs (26 pages)
OKR for Companies (26 pages)
Setting organizational OKRs (42:46)
Measuring what matters: Putting OKR into practice with Felipe Castro (58:58)
OKR: Objectives and Key Results FAQ 2021 (14 minute read)
How to convert company OKRs into Team outcomes (4 minute read)
How to introduce OKRs into your team in 3 easy steps (4 minute read)
How managers can set up performance goals for employees (5 minute read)
45 OKR examples: How to write effective OKRs in 2021 (21 minute read)
Other OKR resources
OKR Thought Leaders:
Launching an OKRs Program
Once you're familiar with the OKR concept and how it works in the platform you can begin creating your OKR program.
Build a Strong Project Team
OKRs are a framework that bridge the gap from strategy to execution – a challenging and common organizational problem. This program of work is one that requires a strong commitment in shifting the way people work and as a result, it is critical to incorporate principles of change and project management to make your rollout successful.
Key roles in your implementation to consider:
Project Owners (Admins): Typically, this responsibility will be shared across HR and Strategic Operations as OKRs are about delivering on your strategy. Think about which team members would make sense to partner with you on your rollout so that you can clearly define roles and responsibilities from the outset.
OKR Champions: Your early adopters and culture champions that are able to support Managers, facilitate OKR conversations and provide a sounding board to assist rollout.
Executive Sponsors: Your Sponsors need to champion and reinforce your initiatives at all levels and be your driving force and conduit for Company OKR setting.
Super Users of the Platform: This often falls to your OKR Champions but they can sometimes be a separate group. They support your people with platform functionality when they are creating or looking at their OKRs. Consider the key roles when identifying the level of access and content visibility you want to assign to each one of them:
For more on content access and how to set up permissions check out this job aid.
Determine Your OKR Cadences & Cycles
Setting Goals / OKRs
When creating OKRs here are a few key considerations with regards to when each level of OKR should be set and what time period they should cover:
Company OKRs: Typically, these are set annually and are a direct translation of your company strategic plan and priorities (i.e. if you have a five year strategic plan or a company mission and/or vision, where would you need to be in one year to comfortably say you have progressed toward achieving that plan / vision / mission?). Breaking down long term strategic plans into annual goals helps provide clear direction and helps them become less overwhelming. Given strategic planning may take some time, we recommend the OKR setting conversations to begin six to eight weeks prior to the first quarter of launch, in line with Executive company strategic planning sessions.
Department & Individual OKRs: Typically, it is recommended that both departments and individuals set their goals on a quarterly basis. This allows teams and individuals to be more flexible and critically evaluate progress over the course of the year, as well as course correct when needed. For each quarter, it is worth starting the OKR setting conversation/s at least two weeks prior to the commencement of the quarter.
OKR Meetings & Conversations: The planning process for OKRs will require conversation and planning, especially in the first few quarters of implementation. Ensure you have appropriate team meetings and sessions mapped out and scheduled to facilitate the process as you progress.
Checking into OKRs
Typically, it is recommended that you check into your goals on a weekly basis; however, this depends on what makes sense for your department. Some teams may only receive metrics on a monthly basis or may work in two week intervals so it may make more sense to check into their goals on either a monthly or bi-weekly basis.
Closing & Iterating OKRs
At the end of each quarter or OKR cycle, it is recommended to close out your OKRs with a reflection and retrospective and to iterate on them for the next quarter. Providing your team with a template for this “closing out check in” and retrospective helps nudge this process. For example, you might ask them to reflect on how difficult or “stretchy” the goal was to achieve, what they would do differently and what value it added to the organization. Some companies also like to adopt a grading or evaluation metric for closing out their OKRs also (note: grading and weighting of OKRs is recommended for a fairly advanced or mature OKR process).
Communication & Training
It is important to build awareness, excitement and capability in OKRs as you roll your program. This involves planning, training, coaching, holding information sessions and ensuring that progress is sustained by communicating OKRs in group and company meetings (and any other channels possible).
Typically training will target Executives, Managers and Employees:
OKRs Specific Training
OKRs will require additional training and best practices support. Creating training that outlines expectations and guidelines will help people adopt this approach. Examples of guidelines and best practices include:
OKRs will continue to evolve over time. OKR champions and advocates are worth identifying so that they can support the rollout and implementation and partner with Managers and Individuals to coordinate planning and OKR setting activities, as well as to coach and iterate on OKRs.
Other Tips for Rollout:
Create implementation OKRs for your Organization
Set goals for each quarter of your implementation to measure progress and use OKRs in Talent to keep track of them. See the Admin Guide to Implementation for some examples of milestone goals. If OKRs are new to your company, consider focusing less on alignment during the first quarter and more on socializing the key concepts and improving capability and familiarity with the overall OKR framework.
Connect OKRs with Other PM activities
Performance Management activities all work in one eco-system to drive performance. For people to be able to achieve their stretch OKR goals, they need to have regular 1-on-1s to help navigate roadblocks and to receive recognition and feedback to stay motivated to perform and keep striving to achieve difficult goals.
As you progress with your OKR rollout, alignment conversations will become more important. It is important to determine what meetings and conversations need to occur each quarter to determine alignment and goal setting. Factor this into your planning and rollout. A structured agenda and approach to these “OKR Setting & Alignment” meetings are helpful to maintaining progress.