One of the big steps you take when working with OKRs is shifting your thinking process from outputs to outcomes. Organizations and their teams flourish from the results they produce and the impact they create, in stark contrast to checking off a list of to-do's that may or may not push the company forward.
It's easy to confuse Key Results with Initiatives, which represent the projects/tasks you're doing to push the needle on your Key Results. Your Key Results should provide feedback on whether or not you're achieving your Objective, through data.
Tips on setting Key Results
When adding Key Results for an Objective, ensure that they are:
- Within your circle of influence
- Challenging, but not impossible
Coming up with good Key Results is something that you master over time, and with each iteration you'll learn different things. One of the most common pain points though, are lagged metrics.
Having an OKR with lagged Key Results simply means that your results could take longer than usual for their value to change. The question is, how should you best handle this? Our tip: Monitor your OKR after the quarter.
When your Key Results are lagged, most of the progress will be reflected at the Initiative level. This is ok. We know this can sometimes be a bit demotivating, but you should still recognize the hard work you're putting into it. We recommend that for these cases, you do two things:
- Update the status. Even if the value of the Key Results isn't moving yet, indicate how confident you feel about achieving them with all the work you've done.
- Monitor the Key Results. Beyond the quarter, you want to validate whether or not the Initiatives you completed produced the results you expected.
- Postpone the Key Result start date. Edit the Key Result (see step 10 below), or postpone the start date via your Check-in.
Pros. You create a good OKR that truly measures the business impact you're trying to create.
Cons. You risk not being agile enough as it'll take longer to validate if the time you've invested was really worth it.
Think of immediate outcomes
If, for example, you have an Objective titled "Train our employees for success" you'll only truly know if they're successful after a longer period of time, so how can you validate this in a shorter timeframe?
To achieve this, you have to provide great training, but training people is an output, therefore an Initiative. So what would the outcome of the training be? How can you validate that employees acquired the necessary knowledge? The answer depends on what you're trying to achieve but a few examples are:
- Sales executives are comfortably offering the new product
- 90% average score on practical test
Pros. You'll have a measure of success for that period of time and you won't have to wait past the quarter to see results.
Cons. You could potentially end up with binary Key Results.
Need inspiration? Check out our OKR + KPI Example Library.
Add Key Results to your Objectives
- From the left navigation menu, click on your Group
- Click on the menu icon for the Objective you wish to add a Key Result
- Select Add Result
- Add the Key Result Name
- Add a Description
- Search and select the person who will be the Lead
- Select how the Key Result will be measured
- Add Start value and Target value
- Select Key Result as Result Type
- In Advanced Settings, you can add Contributors. If you know this Key Result won't start to develop until you've worked on Initiatives that'll affect it, you can add a Start Date. You can also add a Due Date.
- Click Save
Note: You can also add Key Results from My profile and on the Objective details page.