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Your Guide to Company Objectives and Key Results

Setting objectives and key results (OKRs) for your company helps to quantify your goals on a business and personal level.

In short, OKRs should be:

  • Set every quarter or month depending on your company size
  • Attainable, but not easy
  • Rated on a 0.0 – 1.0 scale

OKRs: A Quick Introduction

It seems easy, but you don’t want it to be. You don’t want to score all 1’s in your final report.


As popularly stated by Rick Klau, if you score all 1’s, you’re “sandbagging it.” You’re not challenging yourself by setting easy wins, whether on a personal or a company level.

But, what do you want to see?

While a bad OKR rating is below a 0.5, a good OKR rating is around a 0.7.

Where did OKRs originate?

As described by John Doerr, the creator of OKRs himself, OKRs originated when the Intel company decided to make the switch from a memory company to a microprocessor company. OKRs aided in the transition by setting clear objectives and adding a quantitative value of how to get there. This made for a smoother and easier transition.

When he left the company, John Doerr being one of Google’s early investors, shared this idea with Google. To this day, Google uses OKRs to effectively monitor their employees.

Objectives vs. key results: What’s the difference?

Objectives are qualitative or aspirational, and should take one to three months to achieve. I’d recommend one month for smaller, growing companies and quarterly objectives for larger organizations.

Key results are quantitative and help you to understand how the objective was met. Don’t think of them as tasks; they’re results… but if it doesn’t have a number, it’s not a key result.

OKRs and stretch goals

A lot of businesses complain that their OKRs fail. What these businesses don’t do is set their OKRs to the strengths and weaknesses of their employees.

Businesses looking to set up proper OKRs should implement stretch goals to achieve incremental success with small improvements.

Stretch goals Do’s and Dont’s


  • Set a goal well within your reach
  • Set an unattainable goal


  • Clearly, communicate why you’re setting this goal
  • Stretch your goal slightly beyond the company threshold

By following these guidelines, you’ll challenge your employees without discouraging them.

How to bring OKRs to your company

When introducing OKRs, make sure to keep them transparent. From the President of the company to the youngest intern, all employees should well understand the company goals in order to reach them.

When setting these objectives, make sure you and your staff understand the what, why and how of OKRs. Better understand this by asking these three questions:

What are OKRs?

OKRs are a set of objectives, each having a set of key results.

Why use OKRs?

OKRs are an asset in setting attainable goals for the company as a whole, setting attainable goals for each department and setting personal, attainable goals.

How will our OKRs work?

OKRs work to set expectations on the company, departmental and personal levels. If set correctly, they’ll be transparent and be visible to all other members of the company.

For OKRs to work well, you first have to explain the 0.0 – 1.0 ranking and ensure employees understand the basis of a quality score. Overall, employees should understand what’s expected regarding accountability.

How to get buy-in for OKRs

There’s no fear or failure associated with objectives and key results. No one’s punished for doing poorly; No one’s rewarded for doing well.

That’s it.

Employees shouldn’t be scared to adopt the idea. They should use OKRs as a way to advance their careers, stretch past the norm and do better. If they don’t score well the first time, there’s always next month or next quarter.

Make sure they know this isn’t a contest and isn’t something that can be detrimental to their position, as long as they put in 100% effort.

How to set objectives and develop key results

Objectives are the “dream” and key results are the “success criteria.”

Each objective should be broader with each key result being more specific. Altogether, your employee should understand the overall goal.

How to develop OKRs for your company

Start with your objectives, choosing three to five (you can add a slight deviation based on the size of your company). Make sure to use statements with clear end goals so employees can relate back to these objectives when formulating their own.

Once your objectives are set, determine two to three key results for each. Include a number in each key result to make it measurable (ex: by 5, 20%, in 3 months).

Overall, don’t “sandbag” for better results.

What does this mean?

Keep all objectives and key results attainable, but not easy!

How to develop OKRs for your team

Similar to your company OKRs, choose three to five objectives for your team. Use statements with clear end goals because these team objectives should relate back to the company objectives. At the same time, personal employee OKRs will be relating back to those of the team.

Your team should set two to three key results per objective. Include a number in each key result to make it measurable (ex: by 5, 20%, in 3 months), and don’t “sandbag” for better results.

How to develop personal OKRs

Have each employee create three to five personal objectives. These objectives should relate back to the company objectives and team objectives. Make sure their attainable, but employees are still challenging themselves to do better.

Each employee should set two to three key results per objective. Make sure there’s a number in each key result to make it measurable (ex: by 5, 20%, in 3 months). Ensure employees aren’t “sandbagging” for good results. Again, these are meant for employees to stretch their already existing capabilities.

OKR best practices

You may have seen many trends and similarities among company, team and personal OKRs. This is because they’re all interconnected and relate back to one another.

To achieve your OKRs, you have to work as a team! That means you shouldn’t allow executives to dictate what all the goals are going to be. When setting team and employee OKRs, make sure they aren’t exact to those of the company. You want employee’s to base their OKRs on the company, not to be a mirror image.

When creating company OKRs, allow around 60% of them to be defined by the employees. When goal setting, leave it to a democracy.

OKRs: Do’s and Don’ts

There are many common mistakes made when setting your OKRs, and it’s important to be aware of them when creating an effective set of objectives and key results.


  • Set too many OKRs per month or quarter
  • Set metric driven objectives
  • Make OKRs part of a performance review
  • Ignore a stagnant score (whether it be good or bad)

While you should make sure to avoid those OKR nightmares, it’s important to pay attention to what you should be doing as an effective leader.


  • Set 3-5 objectives per month or quarter
  • Set 2-3 key results per objective per month or quarter
  • Give your company and its employees enough time to reach their OKRs
  • Set an objective that mirrors a call-to-action and gets your employees interested
  • Set metric driven key results (a key result should always include a number)
  • Track confidence levels

Sometimes, it’s just the little things that can help boost an employee’s or coworker’s drive. For example, if an employee is stuck at a 0.4 on the 1.0 scale, offer your help.

Can we change our OKRs in the middle of the month or quarter if we want to?

Your objectives shouldn’t be changed or altered in the middle of the quarter. While there may be new tasks that come up, you don’t want to ignore other important goals.

OKRs are there to help you maintain focus, reach your goals and not bite off more than you can chew. When setting a clear stack of OKRs, it becomes easier to say “no” to less important tasks and to not accumulate a list of backlogged items.

If you start changing OKRs or even adding more, you might lose sight of the greater picture, overwhelm yourself with work and defeat the purpose of OKRs all together.

Take note of your newest goals and add them to your next set of OKRs.

OKR weaknesses

There are no real weaknesses with the methodology of objectives and key results. The real weakness lies within the challenges of implementing the model. During implementation, many mistakes can be made.

Common OKR mistakes

As mentioned before, it’s all too easy to make mistakes when developing and implementing your OKRs. To avoid these mistakes, there are some rules to follow.


  • Make your OKRs too easy
  • Make your OKRs so hard that they’re unachievable
  • Ignore a dropping score
  • Ignore a stagnant score
  • Set more than 3-5 objectives per quarter
  • Set more than 2-3 key results per objective
  • Set metric driven objectives
  • Punish an employee for not achieving his or her OKRs
  • Make OKRs a part of your performance review
  • Set OKRs and forget about them


  • Set stretch goals based on the abilities of the business, team or employee
  • Give your company and its employees enough time to reach their OKRs
  • Set only 3-5 objectives per quarter
  • Set only 2-3 key results per each objective
  • Work with your employees to help them reach their goals
  • Set aside time to perform an OKR review for employees

Common traits of objectives and key results

Pantheon does a great job of summarizing the complexity of proper objectives and key results.

Traits of bad objectives


Your OKRs are stretched so far that they’re impossible to reach.


While your objectives act as CTAs, you left your objectives so vague that you can’t formulate your key results.

Too specific

If you didn’t meet your OKRs exactly as stated, did you meet them this quarter?

That’s what you never want to think.


Setting objectives that no one is passionate about.

Have no business value

You set a personal objective of getting out of bed in the morning or drinking less coffee…

Unless it affects productivity at work or it’s something that may be affecting your overall work ethic, it shouldn’t be an objective.

Traits of good objectives

Tell us why we care

An example may be, “Enhance delivery of customer status updates.”

Are memorable and sticky

An example may be, “Re-design the company website.”

Are written for any reader to instantly understand and visualize the business value

An example may be, “Improve the training guide for new employees.”

Are exciting

An example may be, “Close new business deals!”

Traits of bad key results


There is no clear identification of whether or not they happened. An example may be, “Update the website.”

Without a number, there’s no way to score yourself.

Describe milestones in the abstract rather than specific deliverables

An example may be, “Work with Jerry and Monica to develop a new campaign.”

Describe milestones of too small or too large a scope

An example may be, “Create an Instagram account.”

Traits of good key results

Are metric driven

An example may be, “Increase website traffic by 20%.”

Offer deliverables

An example may be, “Hire 3 more employees by quarter 2.”

OKRs vs. KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) evaluate factors crucial to the success of your business. Objectives and key results (OKRs) help to quantify your goals on a business and a personal level. While very different, OKRs are directly tied to KPIs.

  • Examples of Key Performance Indicators
    • Cost of goods sold
    • Gross profit margin
    • Customer satisfaction and retention
    • Net promoter score
  • Examples of objectives and key results
    • Decrease the cost of goods sold by 20% by quarter 3
    • Increase the gross profit margin by 18% by quarter 3
    • Increase customer satisfaction and retention by 30% by quarter 3
    • Increase the net promoter score to be double that of quarter 2

In these cases, and many others, your KPIs fit directly into your objectives and key results.

OKR software and tools

While there are many tools out there, here are some of the best to properly track your OKRs.


Weekdone allows you to set OKRs on a company weekly, monthly or quarterly level. You can share tips and encouragement with co-workers, share key results progress and showcase accomplishments. The system doesn’t only help to track current tasks, but helps to track those upcoming.


Organize your OKRs with Trello by labeling each objective and key result separately. You can share them with your team while tracking your own and each team member’s progress.


BetterWorks operates on the enterprise level. With this site, you can organize OKRs, store goals and measure progress.


Statuspath allows you to add OKRs to your status reports. Co-workers can share updates so everyone is up-to-date on the status of their OKRs. Utilizing full transparency, you can develop status reports based on the OKRs that matter the most.


With Kapta, you can create and track OKRs. At the end of a predetermined length of time, you’re given the option to rate your OKRs, comment and make notes on each one. You can view these ratings and notes at any later date.

OKRs and scrum: BFFs

Follow the mindset of Monday commitments and Friday wins. Friday should be a time to celebrate getting closer to your OKRs.

Hold a scrum to motivate the team to have something to share

At the beginning of the month or quarter, have employees share their overall goals. Throughout the quarter, allow all employees to share the wins of their previous days. Open the floor because everyone should have bragging rights during scrum.

Make everyone feel like they’re a part of something special

If set correctly, everyone will have objectives to reach. This will bring employees closer together since they’ll have the time to talk about and share their objectives with each other. No one will ever feel discluded from OKRs.

Show team and personal progress

During each scrum, choose a few individuals to showcase. Make sure you only show positive progress. Your staff is working hard to achieve their goals and they deserve some public praise!

OKRs for teams and individuals

The OKRs of teams should relate to the company OKRs set in place. In the same sense, personal OKRs should follow suit and relate back to the company OKRs as well as the team OKRs.

Example of team OKRs:

  • Objective: Increase overall client customer service
    • Key result: Increase employee customer service training time by 10% for quarter 2
    • Key result: Answer the phone by the second ring 90% of the time for the entirety of quarter 2
    • Key result: Increase email answer rate by 20% by quarter 3

Example of individual OKRs (based on the OKRs listed above):

  • Objective: Decrease time spent solving technical issues
    • Key result: Spend 10 minutes or less on a technical issue before sending it to the IT department
    • Key result: Increase website build time by 10% by quarter 3
    • Key result: Increase time spent in face to face communication by 20% by quarter 3

OKR resources for CEOs

We’ve identified the OKR structure, but to reach them isn’t your only objective while implementing and using OKRs for your company. Whether or not you’re the designated OKR master, it’s important for you to make sure everyone is doing their jobs in using OKRs to help your company flourish.

As a successful CEO and OKR master, you can’t be a dictator. Give your employees time to reach their OKRs and don’t pressure them to achieve them all. A good OKR score is around a 0.7, so don’t scrutinize your employees for not achieving a 1.0. Most importantly, don’t set and forget OKRs.

What you should do is, if it’s not already you, designate an OKR master to make sure nothing falls through the cracks. With your help, the OKR master should ensure everyone is on the same page. To do so, the company can find and utilize the right software to organize your OKRs.

The best OKRs are integrated into the company culture. Employees are excited about them and are eager to reach them on their own. Be patient, and allow them to do so.

Company OKRs

Company OKRs should be based on the needs of the company. All OKRs otherwise should relate back to the company OKRs.

Example of company OKRs:

  • Objective: Delight our current customers
    • Key result: Gain a Net Promoter Score of 40 or more for quarter 2
    • Key result: Earn an employee retention rate of 98%
    • Key result: Shoot for a customer churn rate of 1% for the 2017 to the 2018 year

A CEO’s personal OKRs

Similar to any employee, a CEO’s personal OKRs should be outlined based on his or her job description.

Example of CEO OKRs:

  • Objective: Increase gross profit
    • Key result: Schedule meetings with 8 local businesses by quarter 3
    • Key result: Sell 20% more in website development services by quarter 3 as compared to quarter 2
    • Key result: Increase brand recognition by 15% by quarter 3

OKRs for marketers

While your OKRs should always relate back to the company OKRs, develop them to align with your job title and what that title expects of you.

If you’re running your company’s website, your OKRs may look like:

  • Objective: Develop better blogging material for the company site
    • Key result: Publish 2 blogs per week, per month for the entirety of quarter 2
    • Key result: Create at least 12 blog posts that are comprised of 1800 words or more by the end of quarter 2
    • Key result: Audit all previous blog posts to align well with Google search’s most current update by the end of quarter 2

If you work on client accounts, your OKRs may look like:

  • Objective: Bring more traffic to the client website
    • Key result: Create twice as much content for the client blog as compared to quarter 2, by quarter 3
    • Key result: Develop forms for the client website that are filled out and completed 25% more than compared to quarter 2, by quarter 3
    • Key result: Develop 30% more leads to conversions by quarter 3

If you work on business development, your OKRs may look like:

  • Objective: Generate new business
    • Key result: Have a business lunch with 3 or more local businesses by the end of quarter 2
    • Key result: Take on 2 new client accounts by the end of quarter 2
    • Key result: Attend 4 charity events by the end of quarter 2

If you work in a management position, your OKRs may look like:

  • Objective: Become a more effective manager
    • Key result: Take 25% of my work day to talk to and better get to know my employees
    • Key result: Have one on one meetings with 50% of my staff throughout quarter 2
    • Key result: Leave my office door open 3 full days per week for the entirety of quarter 2

OKRs for public relations

If you’re handling in-house public relations, your OKRs may look like:

  • Objective: Launch a campaign to improve brand awareness for DSM
    • Key result: Post across all social media accounts 75% more than that of quarter 1, by the end of quarter 2
    • Key result: Attend 6 client events by quarter 3
    • Key result: Write 2 compelling articles on the actions of the company to be placed in the local newspaper by the end of quarter 2

If you’re handling client accounts, your OKRs may look like:

  • Objective: Better utilize television and radio as part of our strategy
    • Key result: Obtain 10% more radio spots than that of quarter 2, by quarter 3
    • Key result: Earn the brand 1 product placement on a prime time television show by quarter 3
    • Key result: Develop and A/B test 2 television commercials for the brand by quarter 3

OKRs for designers, creatives, developers and UX/UI folks

  • Objective: Do the work that I love
    • Key result: Develop 6 creative concepts by quarter 3
    • Key result: Spend 20% less time performing technical work for the entirety of quarter 2
    • Key result: Take on 90% less projects that I am not passionate about for the entirety of quarter 2

OKRs for HR

  • Objective: Grow our team
    • Key result: Hire 4 new interns by the end of quarter 2
    • Key result: Implement 2 new employee incentive programs by the end of quarter 2
    • Key result: Post 40% more job listings to Glassdoor and Indeed by quarter 3

Overall, make sure your OKRs are effective

While it may be easier to “set ‘em and forget ‘em,” remember you decided to implement OKRs for a reason. Don’t spend all that time implementing a new strategy if you’re not going to use it to the best of its abilities.

OKRs bring you the opportunity to better your business, so don’t let them go to waste!

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