Leveraging OKRs to drive a unified company vision

The start of a new year provides senior leadership with an opportunity to reevaluate their long-term plans and set new goals to propel the business forward

Leveraging OKRs

However, sticking to ambitious plans can be challenging given that nearly 80 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions quit by February. 

To avoid falling into the same trap, business leaders should adopt a robust set of objectives and key results (OKRs) that successfully help align high-level goals with day-to-day team priorities. Only then, will the overarching business strategy feed into the daily routines of different departments. 

According to data from Quantive’s Global State of OKRs Report, a clear set of OKRs improves team alignment, increases performance, and leads to better prioritisation. While every business is different, the following considerations have enabled our senior leadership team to set a clear company vision, while empowering team leads to contribute to the overall direction of the business. 

Clear vision from the top

To achieve company goals and milestones, business leaders need to ensure that all teams are united under a clear business vision. However, departments typically work in silos which can make this a challenge. Senior leadership, therefore, needs to equip their teams with the necessary tools so that when there is a fork in the road, they feel confident to make the right decision that’s going to propel the business forward. 

To do this, business leaders first need to commit to creating clear OKRs. While teams should be encouraged to work independently, the entire organisation gains a greater sense of direction when clear OKRs are established. This also allows senior leadership to take a step back, as they offer a clear set of guidelines that help teams navigate rock paths and avoid a sandbank of mediocrity with minimal guidance. 

While it’s tempting for senior leaders to think of all the possible initiatives that can be rolled out, a lack of focus can derail a unified vision if OKRs quickly proliferate. By remaining laser-focused on projects that will drive the highest impact, business leaders can condense OKRs so that they remain clear and concise for the rest of the business.

Driving buy-in through middle management

Secondly, senior leadership needs to secure buy-in from middle management to create realistic key results, not just the objectives. Constant iteration and feedback are, therefore, needed between senior leadership and mid-level management to ensure that key results are reflective of the objectives and realistic for teams to achieve. 

While it’s tempting to push for ambitious key results, they need to be grounded in reality. Identifying team members who have the ability to influence initiatives will prevent individuals from losing interest and stop new projects from derailing altogether. Middle management plays a crucial role in assigning initiatives to those who can – and want to – impact them while holding them accountable for the results.

Consequently, middle management plays an important role in turning this process into a well-oiled machine and ensuring that OKRs are incorporated into everyone’s daily routines.

Setting the team up for success

Thirdly, the success of OKRs relies on building a strong team of domain experts who can confidently represent the needs and goals of each area of the business. These experts are responsible for translating high-level goals into teams’ day-to-day priorities. Standing meetings and personal OKRs are just a couple of examples of how domain experts can help roll out goals.  

Domain leaders also play an important role in building a strong project management process. OKRs won’t deliver results without a robust follow-up process in place. A strong project management team, therefore, creates healthy and consistent momentum by driving cross-collaboration forward. 

OKRs are a powerful goal-setting and tracking framework used by some of the biggest companies around the globe. By keeping these considerations in mind when crafting your company’s OKRs, your team members will feel emboldened to pursue more creative, out-of-the-box thinking that still aligns with the overall company direction. As a result, teams will be in a strong position to deliver innovative solutions to existing challenges as well as new opportunities. 

Will Hale
Will Hale

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