OKRs and how to use them for your growth team

By implementing the OKR framework into your growth team’s goal-setting strategy, you can ensure team members stay engaged and motivated long-term.

OKRs and how to use them for your growth team

Is your growth team not as engaged as you’d like them to be? If so, changing the way you approach goal-setting might help.

One of the most effective strategies for goal-setting is the OKR (short for objectives and key results) framework. Read on to learn more about the basics of OKRs and how you can use them to help your growth team deliver.

What are OKRs?

The OKR framework was developed by former Intel president Andy Grove and early Google investor and venture capitalist John Doerr. OKRs are used in a variety of companies across industries and can help your growth team to achieve its goals.

You know what OKR stands for. Now, let’s explore this methodology in more depth.

Objectives refer to your growth team’s goals. Where do you want to end up by the end of the month, quarter, or year?

Your team’s objectives are meant to be short, ambitious, and inspirational. Most teams set somewhere between three and five high-level objectives each quarter.

Key results are the deliverables. They’re measurable actions that help you to define your objectives and measure progress toward achieving them. In general, each of your objectives should have between two and five key results that accompany them.

The following is a helpful formula that your growth team can use when implementing the OKR framework: I will do [insert objective here] as measured by [insert key results].

Benefits of OKRs

There are lots of reasons why you might want to use OKRs to increase engagement and help your growth team to improve their performance. The following are some of the greatest advantages OKRs have to offer to you and the people you supervise:

1. Simple, agile framework

The OKR methodology is great for growth team goal-setting because it’s simple and agile. Due to its straightforward and easy-to-understand nature, teams in all kinds of businesses and industries can use this framework to set goals and measure their progress.

2. Provide clear directions

OKRs help team members to know exactly what they need to do and what they should be working toward, too.

When expectations are unclear, it’s harder for workers to stay motivated and engaged. By taking the time to set lofty goals and layout exactly how you’ll measure success, you can prevent confusion and see better results.

3. Increase productivity

If members of your growth team are engaged and motivated, they’re going to get more work done than they would otherwise. When you implement the OKR framework, you can make it easier for team members to stay focused and keep their eyes on the prize.

4. Encourage collaboration

If you think your growth team could benefit from more collaboration, OKRs are a must. When they’re used correctly, OKRs illustrate the role that every employee within the company plays in helping it to achieve its goals.

Everyone on the team will be working toward a common objective when you implement the OKR framework. It’ll quickly become clear that people will get farther working as a team than they would while trying to accomplish their goals alone.

5. Track progress

OKRs clarify exactly how you’re going to measure progress toward accomplishing a particular goal. They make it easier for you and your growth team to see how you’re doing and make sure you’re continuing to move the needle forward on a daily basis.

6. Identify and address problems’ root causes

Because you can track progress throughout the month or quarter when you’re using OKRs, it’s easier to identify the root causes of problems when you run into them. This, in turn, allows you to address the problems, solve them, and prevent them from happening again in the future.

How to use OKRS for your Growth Team

Okay, you can see the value in OKRs and are interested in what the benefits they can provide. Now, let’s dive into the specific ways your growth team can use them:

1. Set the right objectives

When setting objectives for your growth team, it helps to start by answering an important question: Which area of the customer lifecycle, if improved, will have the biggest impact on the company’s growth curve?

The answer could have to do with customer acquisition, activation, referrals, retention, anything. It’ll vary depending on a lot of factors, including the overall goals of your company and the product you’re selling.

After you’ve identified the general area that needs the most attention, the next step is to identify how long you’ll make it your primary focus. The OKR framework works best for fairly short-term goals, so it makes the most sense to pick a timeframe between about 30 and 90 days. If it goes on much longer than this, your team will likely start to lose motivation and become less engaged.

With these factors in mind, you and your team will be able to set clear objectives. Here are some specific characteristics to make sure your objectives have:

  • Keep them short and simple (try to use just sentence for each objective)
  • Make them qualitative (based on quality rather than any specific numbers)
  • Make them inspirational (some people refer to their objectives as North Star goals)

This last point is especially important. Your objectives should be lofty and ambitious to make sure our team stays motivated, doesn’t get complacent, and continues working hard to accomplish their goals.

2. Identify your Key Results

Once you’ve identified your objectives, the next step is to identify your key results (at least three of them). Your key results quantify your qualitative objective. They make it easy for you to measure your progress and figure out whether or not you’ve met your goal.

Remember, key results are meant to be quantitative. An example might be something like increasing new years by 40 percent or increasing the company’s net promoter score from 6 to 8.

3. Measure your success

When you’ve set objectives and identified key results for your team, it’s time for everyone to get to work. They should let the team’s objectives and key results guide their work and provide a touchpoint to help them determine whether or not they’re being productive.

Once objectives and key results have been set, it’ll be easy for them to tell whether or not they’re not taking steps toward reaching one of the team’s goals and helping the business to grow.

Keep an eye on how your team is doing toward achieving their objectives for the month or quarter. Schedule regular check-ins to assess progress, answer questions, and provide feedback, too. Don’t just throw them to the wolves and let them fend for themselves.

4. Aim for average

Remember, it’s okay if your team doesn’t actually meet all of their objectives with 100 percent accuracy.

If every single goal gets met by the end of the quarter, that’s a sign that you and your team were playing small. Your objectives are supposed to be lofty, North Star goals after all. Your team might not meet them, but they can get pretty get close, and that’s better than where they’d be if they didn’t try at all.

A good rule of thumb is to aim for about 70 percent achievement. This is a sign that your team has worked hard and is making great progress. It also leaves room for more improvement in the future, though.

How to set up individual OKRs

Most often, OKRs are used to help teams set and achieve their goals. Individual growth team members can also use them, though.

The basic process of setting OKRs for individuals is the same as setting them for teams. Start by having your team members choose their objectives and identifying the ambitious goal or goals that they want to accomplish in a set period of time. Then, break them down into the specific, measurable key results that they’ll use to track progress.

From here, when working with employees to set individual OKRs, there are some additional steps that you can take to set them up for success, including the following:

1. Identify the “Why”

Talk to your team members about why they want to accomplish each objective that they’ve set. Taking the time to identify this will help them to stay motivated and increase the likelihood that they’ll keep working toward their goals.

2. Provide accountability

Most people are more likely to stick to their goals and accomplish them if they have a sense of accountability. Let them know that you’ll be checking in on them to make sure they’re working toward their goals and making progress.

3. Follow through with check-Ins

Once you’ve let them know you’ll be checking in, follow through and actually check in with your employees. Schedule appointments at regular intervals to see how they’re doing and provide guidance if needed.

OKR examples

What do OKRs look like in action? If you’re still feeling a little confused about how to use them, here are some examples to consider:

1. OKRs for Lead Generation

If your growth team needs help with lead generation, OKRs can help. Let’s say your objective is to grow your company’s email list so you can connect with more potential customers in a more targeted way.

A key result that you might use to measure your progress could be to increase email list sign-ups through your website by 50 percent by the end of the quarter. Two other good key results might be to increase your email open rate by 5 percent and to increase your email click-through rate by 2.5 percent.

2. OKRs for Sales Process Development

OKRs are useful for developing your team’s sales process, too. Let’s use a project management software company as an example of sales process development OKRs in action.

Perhaps the company’s goal is to become a leading software seller in their region. That’s the objective, and the following could be some good key results to measure what it means to become the regions leading project management software seller:

  • By the end of the quarter, sales should account for 55 percent of all the region’s project management software sales
  • By the end of the quarter, the company will have generated 200 SQL (sales qualified leads = cooperation with lead generation) each month
  • By the end of the quarter, the company will have reached a 30 percent conversion rate on all of its leads

3. OKRs for Employee Retention

Increasing employee retention rates is great for helping the company to save money and increase revenues. That’s why increasing the average employee tenure is one of the most common objectives.

If this is your team’s objective, here are some key results that will help you to measure progress:

  • Experience a 15 percent increase in positive employee survey feedback by the end of the quarter
  • Increase the company’s internal promotion rates by 20 percent
  • Increase the company’s average employee tenure by six months

4. OKRs for Customer Retention

You can also use OKRs to improve your business’s rates of customer satisfaction and retention.

Let’s say your team has a lofty objective of having the highest satisfaction ratings of any business in your industry. If this is the case, the first key result you might use to measure progress is conducting in-depth interviews with 100 customers to get high-quality feedback.

Another key result might be conducting 200 interviews over the phone with customers you recently lost. You could also make an effort to get your company’s Net Promoter Score higher than 8.0 (if you feel like using NPS as your meter).

On a different note, perhaps your objective is to increase retention rates by making sure all customers have a great first impression of your company.

If this is your goal, you might have a key result to decrease the time it takes to answer customer service calls by 25 percent. Another key result could be to increase the efficiency of recording customer details by 50 percent, or to decrease customer call back time to two days or less.

5. OKRs for Team Recruiting Development

The world of recruiting development can also benefit from the OKR framework.

An example of a lofty objective for team recruiting development might be to develop an effective and sustainable candidate lead strategy. What might the key results look like to help you measure progress toward this goal?

Perhaps, by the end of the quarter, your team will have partnered with three platforms that make it easier for you to share job ads. You might also have partnered with four annual hiring events that provide opportunities to showcase the company and attract potential recruits. A third key result might be to have built a database of rejected candidates who could be good to reach out to for future hiring.

Start using OKRs today

By implementing the OKR framework into your growth team’s goal-setting strategy, you can ensure team members stay engaged and motivated long-term.

Keep the information outlined above in mind, especially the examples of OKRs for lead generation, sales process development, retention development, and team recruiting development. They’ll provide you with some much-needed guidance as you start utilizing OKRs so you can start seeing results sooner