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OKR Checklist for Every Step of OKR Cycle

This blog brings you an OKR checklist for every step of the OKR cycle.
Shikha Tyagi

Shikha Tyagi

okr checklist

Most fast-growing organizations, trying to expand their business look at OKRs as the perfect solution for all of their management needs. But, implementing this cogent framework for the first time can be difficult. This is why an OKR checklist is required.

With the increasing competition in the market, it has become really important to set superior, intelligent, and encouraging goals for your company. More importantly, these goals must be quantifiable so you can measure and track their real-time progress at any given point.

OKR is a goal-setting framework that helps in choosing motivating goals and tracks them using key results.

This is why most progressive companies are switching to OKRs. However, if you are just beginning with this framework in your organization, it is obvious to miss some small yet important points.

“The checklist is the most high-powered productivity tool ever discovered.” -Brian Tracy

Combining our resources with the knowledge and experience of the experts, we have brought for you a complete OKR checklist. This is designed to develop a definite path for implementing OKRs in your organization and achieve guaranteed success.

Why do you need an OKR Checklist?

Most startups begin with a few employees and a handful of tasks. However, as the company progresses it becomes difficult to keep track of the increasing number of goals. 

No matter how hard the management struggles it becomes difficult to achieve desired goals. This is the time when OKRs come into the picture.

OKRs do not just help in setting agile goals, but also in tracking them efficiently until they are actually achieved.

Usually, the implementation of OKRs means changing the entire organization’s approach toward work. This can be easier said than done for an organization that has been progressing with a particular work culture since the time of its establishment.

Under conditions of complexity, not only are checklists a help, they are required for success. –    Atul Gawande (The Checklist Manifesto)

Having an OKR checklist would help you in making this transition smooth.

An OKR checklist is meant to make everyone understand the power and essence of OKRs in the organization.

Also, it would help them get comfortable with this framework by listing every key aspect.

The checklist is required to ensure that everyone is on board with the idea and aligned with objectives. The elements of this OKR checklist are chosen wisely to start off with your OKR journey.

An hour of planning can save you 10 hours of doing.Dale Carnegie

Before you actually begin using OKRs in your organization, it is important that you introduce your employees to its basics. This will help them recognize your efforts and need for change.

Key Terminologies of OKR checklist:

Define the basic terms that you will now be using frequently while planning.

  • OKR: It stands for Objective and Key Results. It is the framework for goal-setting and performance management.
  • Objective: These are the qualitative goals that are motivating and challenging. These are meant to encourage the better performance of employees.
  • Key Results: These are the quantitative, verifiable, specific, and measurable steps that help in tracking the progress towards objectives.
  • Score: The scoring is done at the end of the OKR cycle to tell if an objective was accomplished or not.

Is your Startup ready for OKRs?

No matter how simple OKRs appear, you can’t underestimate the effort and dedication required to correctly implement them. So, before you begin ask yourself “Is your company ready for OKRs?”

If you are wondering how to evaluate that, look at the following checklist and see if your answer is “YES” for all the questions.

1Do you have ambitious targets?

OKRs are meant for setting inspiring goals that are sure to push everyone beyond their limits. They are not just any other simple improvement technique.

See if your team is ambitious and dedicated to achieving success and growth. If yes, OKRs will help you to do it efficiently.

2Leadership buy-ins

Leadership defines the path of an organization. OKRs will work great if the various leaders of your organization actually believe in their efficiency.

The team members will only trust the process when they see the leader taking responsibility and supporting it.

Also Read: How to Get Leadership Buy-in for OKRs?

3Are you willing to commit time & resources?

Your efforts may not show the results instantly. It requires time, patience, and effort to make OKRs work.

Check if you and your team are ready to continue with perseverance to see the worth of your hard work.

4Do you have an OKR champion?

Every assignment needs a campaigner. You will also need an OKR champion to help everyone understand and implement OKRs successfully.

This person should have out-to-out knowledge of OKRs and always be available for communication. He/she is responsible for helping every team and individual set their objectives and track their key results.

5Do you have key performance indicators in place?

Have you been measuring the progress of your goals using key performance indicators? Without having proper tracking metrics, it is very difficult to set key results.

Every progressive business needs methods to measure success. The reliable metrics will help you achieve your objectives efficiently.

6Are you ready for transparency?

Transparency does not just mean regular communication and setting goals together with your team. Complete transparency is required to unleash the full potential of OKRs

Check if your organization is comfortable sharing intrinsic details like revenue, market share, etc. with the employees. 

This might look like a paradigm shift but the enhancement in productivity and engagement of employees can surprise you.

OKR playbook for startups

Step by step OKR checklist for implementing OKRs at startups

Once the employees have understood the relevance of OKRs we begin using the OKR checklist for the implementation of OKRs.

Clarity of purpose

When everyone is clear about the actual motto of the organization, they can easily understand the role of the work they are doing. This can bring everyone on the same page.

  1. Introduce your employees to the mission, vision, and values of your organization.
  2. Tell them clearly about the long-term goal of the organization.
  3. Discuss your business strategy and how you want to achieve the desired goals.

Organizational Objective

A broader horizon is needed to estimate future progress. 

  1. Set long time goals, mostly around 1 to 3 years.
  2. These should be motivating and capable of guiding the organization towards success.
  3. You can later help your teammates to set their individual objectives in accordance with these larger objectives.

Brainstorming session

Involving your team in planning and discussion is a great way to motivate them. 

  1. Have a brainstorming session with your employees to know their opinion.
  2. Discuss which areas should be prioritized.
  3. Ask them about their individual goals for the coming quarter or year.
  4. Explain what their goals should look like. For example, simple and practical yet inspiring goals are needed.
  5. Ask your employees about the results they want to achieve through these objectives.
  6. Encourage them to divide these results into small quantifiable units that can be used to track the progress in real-time.

Determine your objectives

Once your teammates come up with their ideas your job as a leader is to help them evaluate their goals. This should be done with respect to what an ideal goal looks like in the OKR framework. 

The following questions will help you do this:

  1. Why does a particular objective appear important to your team?
  2. Are the objectives motivational yet realistic?
  3. Are the objectives in alignment with the bigger company goals?
  4. Are there any limitations associated with achieving that objective?
  5. Is the time duration chosen to achieve the objective suitable? (it should neither be too short nor too large)
  6. Is it possible to divide the objective into small measurable goals?
  7. Are the number of tasks involved in the objective prioritized in the correct sequence?
  8. The number of objectives should not be more than 3-4.

Determine key results

Encourage your teammates to set measurable key results for themselves. The following points will help in setting correct key results:

  1. Do they have specific key results per objective?
  2. Is it capable of achieving the particular objective?
  3. Is it practically quantifiable? For example, if your objective is to increase the sale by 20%, your key result must break it into small units to make it traceable throughout the process.

Planning & time management

Planning the OKR cycle for the entire organization is important.

  1. The individual, the team, as well as organizational objectives, should be aligned with each other.
  2. The entire team should know the time period for which particular OKRs are set.
  3. Tell them when and how will they be graded for their performance.
  4. Discuss the challenges that may appear during the process and how to tackle them.
  5. The required resources should be provided beforehand to avoid any delay or gap in the work.
  6. Ask them for their input and if they have other requirements or need help.

Routine check-ins

The communication gaps can be a big issue when the work is in progress at full speed. Routine check-ins help avoid them.

  1. Hold regular meetings to track progress.
  2. See if the work is being carried out in set order of priorities.
  3. See if the employees are focused, if not, discuss this and reinforce their focus.
  4. See if the plan is actually working as it was expected to.
  5. Resolve any unanswered queries.
  6. Ask about the problems and how can they be resolved for good.

Tracing OKRs in mid-cycle

Tracking OKRs in real-time is important to see if everything is working smoothly or if any changes are required.

  1. Grade the team on the basis of their real-time progress. 
  2. Detect any early red alerts and correct them.
  3. Give feedback and suggestions.

Look for leftovers

Not every issue can be anticipated at the beginning. To ascertain that there are no unresolved issues left, see if the following questions can be answered.

  1. Whether everyone understands their as well as their colleagues and teams objectives clearly.
  2. Whether the teams are aware of each other’s objectives.
  3. Look for any overlapping of work, this is an indicator of a lack of coordination.

Scoring of OKRs

Every OKR cycle must end with the scoring or grading process. This allows you to evaluate how well an objective was accomplished.

  1. Divide grading into objective grading, subjective evaluation, and reflections.
  2. Mark key results as either complete or incomplete.
  3. Wherever possible try to evaluate the degree to which the key result could be achieved. For example, the target was to get 5 clients but the employee could only get three. This means 60% completion of the key result.

Preparation for the next cycle

Looking at the achievements and drawbacks of the previous cycle you and your team can together work towards making the next cycle a bigger hit.

  1. See if you need to increase or decrease the number of OKRs for better performance of your team.
  2. Identify the problems from the previous cycle and find measures to fix them.
  3. If there are certain important objectives that could not be achieved in the previous cycle, these can be rolled over in the upcoming cycle.

OKR checklist for choosing the right OKR tool

Even when you have a complete OKR checklist in hand it might be difficult to practically implement all the above-mentioned steps.

Managing performances and having personal interaction with all the employees throughout the OKR cycle can be difficult even for the best leader.

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“When we explored moving from GSheet to an OKR tool at Razorpay, nothing came close to Peoplebox. Peoplebox's seamless connect with Asana & looker made our monthly reviews effective and reduced the time it takes in filling in the content and tailor the discussion around the qualitative insights and discussion.”

Khilan Haria VP, product Management, Razorpay

    This is why OKR tools are a must-have in any organization which is on the path to success. But, just like the OKR checklist, it is equally important to have a checklist for choosing the right OKR tool for your organization.

    Check out this amazing checklist designed by Sienam which you can use while finalizing the best OKR tool for your organization –

    • How many clicks does it take to create a basic OKR? (1 O & 6 KR)
    • Is it easy to align and view the alignment of OKRs top-down, bottom-up, and laterally?
    • is there flexibility to create shared OKRs across teams and levels to avoid potential org structure silos?
    • Is there flexibility to build our own cadence- quarterly, half-yearly, annually, etc.?
    • Can teams and companies gain useful insights easily to drive the agenda forward in their review meetings? Bonus: Easy download to excel and/or create slides.
    • What kind of ownership do you want – team, person, or both, and does the tool offer that?
    • OKRs to daily workflow management- how easily does it enable that connection for all of our teams?
    • Is persistent communication made easy within the tool or integration possible with our existing ones such as slack?
    • Can it track both – our KPIs and OKRs at all levels?
    • Is the company financially strong? (A struggling Co. could cut back on compliance, security, and support)
    • Are the client logos on their website actually their long-term customers (˃1 year)?

    Conclusion:

    With more and more organizations adopting OKRs, failure to implement them correctly has become a common scenario.

    Our OKR checklist is devised after a lot of research to help you implement OKRs in your organization.

    Further, using Sienam’s checklist you can also choose the right OKR tool for your organization for the correct execution of your chosen OKRs.

    We are sure that this blog would enhance your OKR knowledge and help you avoid committing common mistakes.

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