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Setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

As business owners, leaders, employees, and, ultimately, humans, we are prone to seeking accomplishment. whether using a formal process or not, we use goal setting and achievement in our day-to-day, for everything from brushing our teeth to saving for a house.


Setting and monitoring effective goals in business starts with having a clear vision for what the organization is trying to achieve and the direction it's headed. Once we establish a clear direction, we can start to focus on how to move forward and outline the goals we need to achieve in order to get there.


At Markle Consulting, we really like to use the Objectives and Key Results, or OKR, framework. OKR is a goal-setting framework that is used to define measurable goals (objectives) and track their progress by identifying the indicators of goal achievement (key results).


An objective is simply what is to be achieved. no more, no less. effective objectives are:

  • significant

  • concrete

  • action-oriented

  • (ideally) inspirational

Key results are the benchmarks that tell us where we’ve reached the objective. effective key results are:

  • specific

  • time-bound

  • measurable/verifiable

  • aggressive, yet attainable


Once all of the key results are completed, the objective has been achieved. but how do we achieve the key results? We set initiatives, or tasks, that will lead to the completion of the key results. These are the micro-steps to goal completion.


Objectives are written with a result at the top, then 3-5 supporting key results below. For example:

Objective

Launch the new monthly newsletter successfully.

Key Result #1

Publish 3 newsletters this quarter (Q2)

Key Result #2

Finalize and launch 1 newsletter per month

Key Result #3

Ensure we get at least a 3% CTR (click-through rate)

The initiatives for KR1 might look like:

Initiative

Responsibility

Timeline

Determine themes/content for each

Jasmine

March 1

Write and edit copy

Linda

March 9

Complete graphics

Shane

March 15

Complete final approval

Jasmine

March 25

Schedule for distribution

Shane

March 30

Once you’ve set and clarified your OKRs, you’ll need to review these at a regular interval. we recommend at minimum quarterly (monthly if possible!) to ensure you can stay on track. the grading method is simple:

  • we met our goal

  • we made progress

  • we failed

At this point, you could reassess to determine where things went off track and what the next steps or new timelines might be. You might pivot or change your goal altogether as a result of things you learned along the way!


OKRs make a great goal-setting tool because of how simplistic and uncomplicated the framework is. It’s an easy framework to follow, and gives you objective indicators to assess whether the goal was achieved. It helps to stay out of the weeds and focus on the set of carefully chosen priorities that are aligned with the broader company vision. This is a great tool for company goals, but can definitely be used for departmental and employee-level goals as well.


Need support developing your business strategy and goals? Need help effectively setting goals with employees? Reach out!


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