Wondering if your company is OKR ready?

Wondering if your company is OKR ready?

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If you do these five things, your OKR implementation is guaranteed – to fail!

28 October, 2021
5 mins

Implementation of an OKR structure is one of the best things you can do for your business. Better alignment, better top-down goals cascading, constructive feedback, better performance management all boil down to GROWTH. 

The simplicity, flexibility, and proven track record are what make OKRs worth the hype. Companies decide collaboratively on Objectives that they want the company to achieve. Then the process moves ahead by deciding the measurable outcomes (key results in quantitative terms) to see how well teams perform. 

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However, despite their intuitive logic, getting OKRs right in practice can be a bit complicated. OKRs can make or mar the company’s success. John Doerr, in Measure, what Matters, hits the nail on the head in just a few lines by saying, “An effective goal-setting system starts with disciplined thinking at the top, with leaders who invest the time and energy to choose what counts.” Thus, OKR success demands effective implementation and a thoughtful process supported and promoted by leadership. OKR implementation often fails because of the common mistakes that most companies overlook while implementing OKRs. We have compiled the list of the five most common ways businesses tend to go wrong with OKRs and get them right.   


‣ Not getting everyone onboard. 

OKR implementation cannot gain the success you want without having every team member on board with the idea and committed to giving it a real shot. . This includes everyone, from the very top to frontline people. Thus while rolling out the OKR implementation, it’s important to get everyone’s buy-in, keeping in mind how things will become easier for the whole organization. 

Now people can become hesitant about getting themselves onboard for the new OKR implementation process; for this, you can tell people about the benefits of OKR and how it will help them in certain ways.

• Educate them on the ins and outs of OKRs

• Teach them of the benefits of getting OKRs 

• Teach them through case studies 

• Showcase how OKRs will help them grow  within the company

‣ Not telling them How to do OKRs

OKR is a simple process but it can sometimes be difficult for employees to understand OKRs on their own. It takes time for each individual to learn the ins and out and nuances of setting the OKR Structure. Conduct workshops for them to understand the motive behind introducing OKRs to the company. With this, be deliberate about helping other people learn.

You can use take help of Google for this. Working with Google takes the users through history and sets up and teaches them how to write actionable OKRs. 

You can also use the following steps to make them understand the ins and out of the OKR. 

➊ Brainstorm the idea of OKRs with the employees after getting the buy-ins 

➋ Communicate the OKR methodology through sessions on an individual basis.

➌ Give Individual Guide to everyone for future reference

➍ Tell them the success stories of OKRs with Google and other companies. 

‣ Setting too many or too few OKRs

Once you’ve everybody’s buy-in and you’ve told everyone on how to get started with OKRs, the onus of setting the Objectives and Key Results. We have a complete guide on how many objectives should be there in a quarter. Ideally, it’s recommended to have 3-4 objectives with 3-5 key results for each objective for both a departmental level and an individual level. One can have a number exceeding or succeeding this objective/key-result ratio, but this case may result in the failure of your OKR implementation. 

When you set way too many Objectives and Key Results, you end up losing track of the OKRs, and this results in poor goal attainment. Too many OKRs mean diluted focus and vice-versa. It is going to take a few quarters to a year maybe to get really good at setting quality goals and getting everyone involved. Adaptation of anything new takes time, but once you understand the fundamentals of OKR software, the implementation will be easy to roll out.

‣ Lacking the Check-in Discipline

OKRs are not a thing to forget after making; they need a disciplinary check-in on a regular basis. Though we’ve kept it on the number five, this is the number one problem that companies come across in the process of OKRs. Checking-ins on a weekly or bi-weekly basis is important to facilitate alignment, transparency, and progress made in the OKRs and goals. 

Running through the OKRs gives a clear picture of

• What was achieved

• What was under or overachieved

• What the KR owner’s confidence in achieving their goals

Check-ins need to become habitual to get this done on time with the utmost efficiency. If not, then things have all possible chances of going south. This is why you need dedicated people and appointing OKR champions in order to instill check-in discipline among them. 

‣ Thinking that OKRs will be a solution to all your business problems. 

OKRs are great. They bridge the gap between the loopholes in your performance management process but considering it as a universal solution for all your business woes doesn’t fit right. The OKR structure in itself needs refining sometimes, and thus, it is required to properly train the people with the ins and outs of OKRs to contribute to the successful implementation of your OKR platform. Things don’t stop here; for the successful implementation of OKR, it’s important to see it from a different perspective- knowing why exactly you’re using the OKR tool for your business. Sometimes people misunderstand the usage and keep seeing OKR structure as a band-aid for other business issues as well. Thus, knowing the purpose and how it will affect the company’s mission even before the first use of the tool is a big positive. 

Final Take: 

If done well, OKR can prove to be the most vibrant tool for aligning your organization’s goals in the right direction, keeping everyone on board. On the other hand, if done with callousness, it can drain the energy of your team more than your anticipation. Many companies fail in OKRs without finding the reason why. Thus, we have opened the playbook telling how you can avoid the things that are leading to the failure of your OKR structure. We recommend at least taking three quarters to feel comfortable with OKRs and avoid the pitfall coming in between. John Doerr in his book “Measure, what matters” says, “Be patient; be resolute. Every process requires trial and error. As Grove told his OPEC students, Intel “stumbled a lot of times” after adopting OKRs: “We didn’t fully understand the principal purpose of it. And we are kind of doing better with it as time goes on.” An organization may need up to four or five quarterly cycles to fully embrace the system, and even more than that to build mature goal muscle.”


For knowing more on how you can avoid your OKR implementation to fail, get in touch with us today