Why use OKRs for leadership
In the last few decades, plenty has changed in the business world. With innovation in organizational structures, leadership has evolved. Strong business leaders in today’s age know the importance of aligning employees to drive engagement and improve focus. From team leads to the C-suite, leaders are adapting to a new way of doing business and need new tools to do so.
Introducing OKRs — Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) is a goal-setting method that helps leaders set clear goals using a flexible and transparent framework. With OKRs, leaders can ensure teams and individuals are working toward a common goal. With a bottom-up approach, teams have the independence to self-manage without losing track of the primary focus.
How to write OKRs for leadership development
Step 1. OKRs 101
Having no idea what OKRs are makes writing them difficult. Lucky for you, the foundations of OKRs are simple. It’s a three-step process to help you define your quarterly goals: Objectives (O), Key Results (KRs) and projects.
- Objectives: This is your guiding star for the quarter. It’s a short statement defining your goal.
- Key Results: These sit under your Objectives and are essentially milestones to help define success.
- Projects: This is your to-do list. It’s a concise list of tasks that will make hitting your Key Results possible.
Step 2. Understand your role
While OKRs work best under a collaborative system, it’s a good idea for leaders to champion the project the first time. Think of yourself as a head chef — you know the recipes well and how to keep the kitchen on track.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to help troubleshoot hiccups and encourage the team to update their OKRs regularly. Do this well, and you’ll have a much easier time getting your team to stick to it in the long run.
Start with three Objectives and three KRs per objective, and make tracking a part of your WIPs or other weekly meetings while everyone gets acquainted.
Step 3. Set Objectives
Leaders often juggle many responsibilities at once, making it hard to narrow down targets for the quarter. To help define an area of focus, leadership teams may take inspiration from the AARRR model. This model outlines the metrics all business leaders should track at some point. The five stages are acquisition, activation, retention, referral and revenue.
- Acquisition: How do you find customers?
- Activation: What’s the customer’s first impression?
- Retention: Do customers return?
- Referral: Do customers tell others about you?
- Revenue: How can you improve revenue?
Identify the two areas that need the most attention and shape your Objectives around them. For more help with Objectives, check out our guide to writing good Objectives.
Step 4. Write Key Results
For each Objective there should be three Key Results. KRs are aspirational statements that let you know you’re on track to meeting your Objectives. Good Key Results are SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound and usually quantifiable. Here’s a template to help you get started:
- Improve <metric> from X to Y
Step 5. List projects
You know your destination — but how will you get there? Here’s the part where you list the tasks that will help you achieve your Key Results. Don’t be heavy-handed and let your team define their own projects — as long as their initiatives work toward meeting KRs, you should be OK.
Still confused? We have a wealth of resources on writing OKRs, but first-timers might want to start here:
Leadership OKRs examples
To help you understand how OKRs are written, we've compiled some examples. From team leads to managers and executives, we’ve got the whole suite of OKRs examples for leadership below!
Examples of OKRs for team leaders
Looking for inspiration? Team leads can use the examples below as a starting point when writing OKRs for the first time.
Improve team productivity and efficiency
Decrease time to close tasks by 25%
Increase number of tickets closed by 10%
95% participation from team in weekly standup surve
OKRs examples for managers
Clearly written OKRs will help your team understand and adopt OKRs. We’ve put together some OKRs examples for managers to help you get started.
OKRs to become a better manager
Establish clear expectations and communication protocols for team members
Develop a deeper understanding of team dynamics and individual strengths
Facilitate constructive feedback and open communication among team members
Foster an environment of trust, collaboration, and transparency
OKRs examples for executives
Who said old dogs can’t learn new tricks? First-time OKRs writers can use the examples below as a guide.
OKRs to prepare for a Series A funding
5x monthly recurring revenue (MRR) by through expanding product offerings and acquiring new customers
Increase customer retention rate by 15% through implementing a customer success program
Increase the monthly active users by 10x
Identify and target at least 15 potential investors
Tracking leadership OKRs with Tability
Once you’ve gotten the gist of leadership OKRs, it’s time to put them into practice — but that’s easier said than done. You don’t get to a leadership position without recognising that setting tasks is just the prelude to a successful quarter — it's the implementation that counts. But how do you bridge the gap between your plans and desired outcomes? With tracking and accountability.
OKRs set up teams for success because they emphasize follow-through. OKRs don’t work without full commitment, but as leaders know, getting your team to implement a new system is not always easy.
Software like Tability can help — it features an intuitive online interface and a handy dashboard and sends automated email reminders to keep teams on track.
What other leadership metrics can you use?
If the examples above aren’t relevant to you, we've provided some alternative leadership metrics below.
Customer Satisfaction Score
Customer-centricity in how teams perform.
The difference between net sales and cost of goods sold.
Net cash flow
Funds gained or lost after debts are paid.
How satisfied are your employees?
Return on Investment (ROI)
The difference between earning and spending on an investment.
Are teams engaged with work and the company culture?
Team Health Index
How a leader determines whether team members are overloaded.
A leader’s ability to retain staff.
How long does it take to train new team members?
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Stop wasting your OKRs. Focus on the right work and accomplish your goals.