Helping You Put the OK Into Your OKRs Objectives & Key Results

What Are OKRs? A Guide For Setting Objectives & Key Results

January 4, 2023
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If you're new to the whole Objectives and Key Results (OKR) thing, let’s give you the elevator pitch.

It's a simple process that maps out the future of your business. You gather your team and ask why we're doing what we're doing. What do we want to achieve in 6 months? In a year? What is it that we want to be remembered for? 

Once you're all on the same page, you agree on some objectives and key results that will move your business forward. These can be anything from increasing customer satisfaction to beating competitors. When everyone signs off on these OKRs, they go to work!

Then at a scheduled time, the OKRs are revisited, and the progress is reviewed. This is done either weekly or monthly, depending on the nature of your business or industry.

This article will examine this goal-setting framework, outline tips for setting OKRs, and explore some examples of OKRs. 

But first, let us explain what OKRs are in greater detail.

What does OKR mean?

OKR is an acronym for Objectives and Key Results. It is a goal-management method that involves setting specific, measurable, time-bound goals relevant to the growth and development of individual team members and the organization. These objectives and key results are designed to track and improve business performance and growth. In other words, what OKRs do is set objectives and then measure those objectives with key results or successes.  

Objectives, in this regard, are typically qualitative, measurable goals that team members can collaborate on and achieve through a framework of feedback, problem-solving, critical thinking, and continuous learning. Key results refer to the metric by which you will measure the success of the objective. 

Is an OKR a goal?

Well, not exactly. Although very similar, OKRs differ from goals. Here’s an example that breaks it down:

When setting a goal, you specify a direction and a target. For example, you set a goal to increase your following on Instagram by 300%. In this instance, “increase following” is the direction, and “300%” is the target. When applying an OKR framework, this same goal will then be divided into an objective and a key result. Using the same example, “grow following” will be the objective, and “300%” will be the key result. 

In a sense, OKRs are goals that have been split into objectives and key results.

But what about OKRs and KPIs? 

OKR vs. KPI: How Do They Differ?

OKR and KPI are two methods that organizations use to set and track goals and measure progress. While they are similar in many ways, there are also some key differences between OKR and KPI:

  1. Purpose: OKR is a goal-setting methodology that helps organizations define what they want to achieve and how they will measure progress towards those goals. KPI is a metric used to measure the success of an organization or a specific activity in achieving its goals.
  1. Time frame: OKR is typically used to set long-term goals (3-12 months) and track progress towards those goals. KPI is usually used to measure short-term performance (daily, weekly, or monthly) and to identify trends over time.
  1. Level of detail: OKR is a high-level framework that defines an organization's overall direction and focus. It typically consists of a few broad objectives that are supported by specific key results that measure progress towards those objectives. KPI is more detailed and specific, focusing on specific activities or processes within an organization and using specific metrics to measure their performance.
  1. Involvement: OKR is typically used by senior leadership and management to set the direction and priorities for an organization. KPI is often used by teams and individuals to track progress towards specific goals and responsibilities.
  1. Flexibility: OKR is a more flexible framework that allows for adjustments and course corrections as needed. KPI is more rigid and focuses on tracking specific metrics over time, so it may be less adaptable to changes in circumstances or goals.

Overall, OKR and KPI are both valuable tools for setting and tracking goals and measuring progress, but they serve different purposes and are used at different levels within an organization.

How are OKRs set?

Technically, OKR setting starts with the top management of your company. They start out by setting annual and quarterly objectives. Next, they break it down into monthly objectives which managers now use as a basis for setting goals for their teams. From this point, each team member can derive or set out individual objectives and key results.

To create effective OKRs, you need input from everyone affected. This means you should gather feedback from all team members who have a part to play in achieving the key results. This way, everyone is aligned on the goals and can better structure both team and individual OKRs to achieve goals faster.

Tips for setting OKRs

  1. The Simpler, The Better

Don’t get overwhelmed by the large task at hand. Break down objectives into bite-sized pieces and prioritize based on urgency. Remember that there is no right or wrong number of OKRs; set them based on the resources available and the amount of time available.

  1. Be As Specific As Possible

Once objectives have been set, brainstorm with your team and develop specific action plans. Map out how you can achieve the goals, set metrics for measuring success, and evaluate performance. This will help clarify expectations and let every member of the team know what they need to do to reach their objectives.

  1. Break Down Your Objectives

Many times, employees have a hard time understanding how their jobs impact the company’s goals. To avoid this confusion, ensure that each objective is broken down from the organizational level to the team level and the individual level.

  1. Ensure That Each Key Result is Measurable

The more measurable your key results are, the better your chances of achieving them. For example, instead of saying, ‘publish more blog posts each month,’ say, ‘publish 20 blog posts each month’. By doing so, at the end of each month, you can count the number of blog posts published and know whether or not the goal was reached.

  1. Celebrate Wins and Reward Efforts

Remember to celebrate every milestone and reward individual team member’s efforts. This type of positive reinforcement helps maintain OKR best practices and encourages everyone involved to keep putting their best foot forward and achieving their goals. For the best results, set up a support system within your team and encourage transparency and accountability.

What is a good OKR grade?

While a good OKR grade is subjective, generally, a grade of 60-70% is considered good. It's also important to note that OKRs are meant to be challenging and stretch goals, so achieving 100% may not always be realistic or necessary. Ultimately, the most important thing is to make progress towards your goals and continuously strive for improvement.

How many OKRs should you set?

It is generally recommended to set a maximum of 3-5 OKRs per quarter or per year, depending on the size and complexity of the organization and the level of detail in the OKRs. It is important to have a clear and focused set of objectives, rather than trying to tackle too many goals at once.

Examples of OKRs

Company-wide OKRs

At the organizational level, OKRs are great for managing and achieving long-term goals. Check out this company-wide OKR example:

Company: Gerald Homes

Sample Objective: 

To provide nerdy minimalist household decor to customers. 

Sample Key Results: 

  • Client Rating of 4.5/5.0
  • Take on and fulfill 40 orders each month.
  • 80% of customers refer Geekish Homes to friends and family.

Department-specific OKRs

OKRs are also as effective for teams as they help direct strategic thinking and improve team functions. Here are some department-level OKR examples:

Sales Team

Objective:

Increase recurring revenue.

Key Results:

  • Increase annual subscriptions by 40%
  • Reduce churn rate by 15%
  • Hit $1.5M in MRR

HR Team

Objective:

Increase employee engagement and development

Key Results:

  • Boost employee satisfaction by 30%
  • Ensure 95% employee participation in team bonding activities.

Achieving OKRs with Assembly's Suite of Tools

Here are some ways that Assembly's collaboration, project management, and communication tools can help companies achieve OKRs:

  1. Collaboration tools: Assembly's collaboration tools allow teams to work together in real-time on shared documents, tasks, and projects. This can help teams stay organized and focused on their OKRs.
  1. Project management tools: Assembly's project management tools allow teams to break down OKRs into smaller, more manageable tasks and track progress toward those tasks. This can help teams stay on track and identify areas for improvement.
  1. Communication tools: Assembly's communication tools allow teams to stay connected and communicate effectively, even if they are working remotely or on distributed teams. This can help teams stay aligned and achieve their OKRs more efficiently.

Overall, Assembly's suite of tools can help companies streamline their workflows, increase productivity, and achieve their OKRs more effectively.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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