How to Roll out OKRs for the first time is a question common among organizations just introducing OKRs.
Imagine a scenario-
You are rolling out OKR for the first time.
One thing goes wrong and… Boom!
Your employees are already hating the process- even before it took a pace.
You certainly wouldn’t want that to happen in your organization. OKRs can surcharge and accelerate your organizational growth. But the key is to get this done right.
That’s why a well-planned rollout is significant for the success of an OKR system.
How to roll out OKRs for the first time
Introduce the new goal-setting approach strategically but not in a mechanical process. Every organization is unique and can face unique challenges while implementing OKRs.
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How to roll out OKRs: Here are 7 Best Practices for a successful OKR rollout
1Communicate the OKR Methodology to all the teams
Get everyone in the organization on board with OKRs. Present the concept clearly and precisely. Educate everyone on the OKR language.
While some people will embrace the changes with open arms, there are also going to be some skeptics into the bargain. You must let them express their concerns and provide answers to their “why, how, and what?” questions.
Explain to them the benefits of implementing the OKR framework. Highlight how it’s going to impact the business and the individual success of the employees.
Organize workshops, training, discussions, introductory presentations, and seminars to help your employees’ design quality OKRs. Transparently explain to them the strategic execution, alignment, expectations, and tools they will be required to use for the purpose.
To help everyone speak the same language, document your company OKR framework
2Inspire with success stories
List the names of reputed companies like Google, Netflix, Intel, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. which have successfully implemented OKRs. Narrate their success stories to help them visualize how OKRs can cater to their individual success.
For example, OKRs helped LinkedIn become a 20 Billion Company. Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, describes OKRs as, “something you want to accomplish over a specific period of time that leans toward a stretch goal rather than a stated plan.
It’s something where you want to create greater urgency, greater mindshare.”
To read more OKR success stories, click here.
3Decide on your approach and framework
You can either go for an organization-wide rollout Consider running an OKR Pilot first, depending on what fits you best.
If you have a culture that’s open to change and a flexible structure of functioning, an organization-wide rollout will work best for you. But it’s always best to take small steps. Start from one part and gradually move to others.
Crafting and implementing OKRs across the entire organization can seem overwhelming especially if you are a large organization. Instead, choose a particular part of the organization and run a pilot project.
“If you concentrate on small, manageable steps you can cross unimaginable distances.”
It’s also important to decide “how often?” will OKRs be reviewed. Will it be done quarterly or annually?
4Go for the Top-down approach
A top-down approach to OKRs was the first pattern attempted. The top management has a significant role in setting the overall direction of the company. Starting from the top provides clarity for the rest of the organization.
“People buy into the leader before they buy into the vision.”
For example, you can start with the senior leadership team. Make them an example to roll out OKRs to the departmental heads. From there you can move on to team leaders, and to the rest of your teams.
You can’t just sit with a blank sheet in front and magically start crafting the perfect OKRs. You need to understand the context. Make the company mission and vision your starting point and tailor your OKRs accordingly.
Buy-ins are critical for OKR success. The success of OKRs depends on the collective effort of each team member. You can imagine it as a group dance performance where everyone needs to perform their parts well to make it a masterpiece.
Thus you need to align the efforts of the workforce, executive leaders, and company heads both horizontally and vertically. This will help you foster transparency, smooth cross-functional communication, and reduce overlap among departments.
7Track and monitor progress
Tracking OKRs are important to evaluate and measure the progress and understand which teams are falling short.
You can identify any issues and make course corrections as required by Monitoring progress.
Leverage technology to track OKRs. It will make the process transparent.
Using OKR software will also automate the calculations and save your time as you are no longer required to manually update the progress of each team member.
Bonus tip: Remember to celebrate whenever you Hit the nail on the head through OKR win meetings and shoutouts to keep
6Do frequent check-ins
To stay on top of OKR progress, you need to do regular check-ins. Employees might feel overwhelmed with concerns and doubts, especially in the initial days.
Regular check-ins will give your employees direction. And provide them the required assistance and guidance. Frequent Check-in meetings will also identify the overlappings, increase accountability and ensure execution.
Define your preferred frequency of Check-in meetings. You can do it weekly or monthly as per your organization’s needs. Although weekly check-ins are most recommended to keep track of the progress and evaluate continuously.
Have OKR Champions
Consider having OKR champion who starts implementing the OKR framework with a strong war cry. Build a team of champions who will work as ambassadors to head the change. And make the OKR framework run smoothing across the organization.
They work as mentors and internal OKR experts. And can help you adopt and execute OKRs at all levels of the organization. These OKR enthusiasts will make sure that every concern is addressed, every ‘whys and wherefores’ are explained.
Also Read: Essential Guide for OKR Champions in 2022
What to avoid?
- Too many objectives and key results: Less is more. Don’t set more than 5-7 Objectives and 3-5 key results.
- Fill it, Forget it: Don’t set OKRs just to forget in a few days.
- Mixing KPIs with OKRs: KPIs aren’t a substitution for OKRs. They have separate roles and outcomes.
- Rigidity: Rigid adherence to rules can lead to disengagement. Instead, move forward with a flexible and intuitive OKR approach
- Link OKRs with Recognition: Don’t make the mistake of making OKRs a base for your reward and recognition program. It can negatively affect performance. And compromises the business output.
The start is never perfect
You might struggle when you are just starting. But after a few OKR cycles, you are sure to hit your stride.
To end, OKR’s success depends on consistency. So, remember to continuously reflect, learn, and refine the process.
Hope we were able to answer all your queries in our blog How to roll out OKRs for the first time? If you have questions feel free to comment below.