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  • Jonathan Bullock

4 mistakes to avoid when using OKRs



I want to share with you four mistakes I've made when using OKRs in my team.


If you aren’t familiar with them, OKRs – objectives and key results – are a way for an organisation to set goals. More specifically, these are goals which align to the company’s strategic priorities and allow you to measure progress.


1. Mistaking activities for objectives


Your OKRs don’t need to include the 'How you're going to do it'. They should be limited to what you want to achieve and how you will measure success. This changes your focus from the activities you're doing to the objectives you're achieving.


2. Cascading objectives


OKRs should not trickle down through the organisation, nor should they be dictated by the top. The OKR framework starts with setting clear company-wide goals. Each team should then design their OKRs that align with those of the company. They are top-down and bottom-up.


OKRs are designed to be quicker to establish and less centrally controlled than other goal-setting frameworks.


3. Making everything an OKR


OKRs are designed for strategic goal-setting and setting priorities. Operational or BAU tasks and metrics should not be incorporated into OKRs. Operational aspects absolutely still need to be reported and acted on, but they are not OKRs.


4. Linking salary with OKRs


Compensation and salary can be influenced by OKRs but it should not be solely or even largely determined by them.


Linking the two can in fact negatively impact performance and reduce your chances of achieving OKRs. People may be less likely to take risks or experiment, or they may try to game the system to achieve the objectives in an artificial way.


TAKEAWAY: OKRs are not a silver bullet. Simply using them will not fix all the issues in your company nor guarantee success. But when used correctly, they can help to align strategic priorities and get the whole organisation moving in the same direction.


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