How Personal OKRs Can Benefit an Individual and Impact the Organization
In 1962 while touring the NASA space center, President John F. Kennedy met a janitor who was sweeping the floor.
“Hi, I’m Jack Kennedy. What are you doing?” the President asked.
“Well, Mr. President,” the janitor replied, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”
Clear goals that contribute to the company’s mission help focus an employee’s efforts and spur higher performance. Whether sweeping floors or piloting a rocket, individuals who know how their efforts directly impact the organization feel more purpose and are more engaged in their work.
With a goal-setting framework like Objectives & Key Results (OKRs), you can establish clear and measurable organizational level, departmental level, team level, and individual level goals that inspire employees to do their best work while growing personally and professionally.
“Healthy culture and structured goal setting are interdependent.” – John Doerr, Measure What Matters
How do personal OKRs help the organization?
Think of OKRs as the roadmap for progress — what needs to be done and how to get there. The “objectives” are what an organization, team, or individual wants to accomplish. “Key results” are specific and measurable, describing how the objectives will be achieved.
Looking from the top down, you have company OKRs aligned with the organization’s ultimate mission and business goals. Then each department, team, and individual employee can develop their own OKRs that define what they need to work on and accomplish to contribute to those company goals and move the business forward.
Let’s look at the NASA janitor example again in this context:
Organizational objective: Put a man on the moon.
Individual objective: Ensure space center facilities are clean and safe for employees.
Key result: Keep the floors swept daily.
The janitor had a sense of purpose because he could clearly see how his sweeping directly impacted the organization’s ability to reach its ultimate goal. The man’s one small step contributed to mankind’s giant leap.
How do personal OKRs benefit the employee?
While your company may not send rockets to space, your employees can still do meaningful, rewarding work. Setting personal goals/OKRs can help focus individuals on what matters most to both impact the company’s success and further their own learning and development.
Here are a few benefits employees can see when using individual OKRs:
- A greater sense of purpose and increased engagement
- Better role clarity and ability to focus on the tasks that matter most
- Opportunity to identify skills gaps and create learning goals
- Ability to show measurable progress during evaluations and advocate for raises or promotions
Personal OKRs should be meaningful and measurable
Personal OKRs should be aspirational, measurable, actionable, and challenging (but achievable). And while personal goals should cater to the individual, it’s also important to collaborate with managers to align personal OKRs with team OKRs, so employees can ensure their work objectives align with what the rest of the team is doing. When everyone agrees on an established set of goals, it helps eliminate competing priorities and strengthens team support and camaraderie.
Another good rule of thumb when developing personal OKRs is to make sure they don’t turn into a to-do list. Employees should focus on what is most important; if an OKR doesn’t help them develop and grow or doesn’t map up to the team or company objectives, it’s probably not really a priority.
Self-development objectives inspire personal and professional growth
At 15Five, we encourage employees to reach their highest potential personally and professionally with the help of self-development objectives. While traditional OKRs focus on aligning the company to hit business objectives, self-development objectives aren’t necessarily associated with business outcomes, and can contribute to an individual’s personal development.
A self-development objective can be anything from achieving a better work-life balance to learning a 2nd language. By using the OKR framework to establish these personal objectives, employees can break them down into manageable steps, measure their progress, and even share successes with their team.
Whether they’re focused on business outcomes or personal growth, individual OKRs can provide a structure for increasing one’s sense of achievement and growth mindset.
Track personal, team, and company OKRs with 15Five
Setting OKRs and tracking progress is easier than ever with 15Five. Our actionable insights and planning tools will help align your team so they can focus on what matters while inspiring them to achieve more — together.