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6 Min Read

OKR Examples: How to Write OKRs that Drive Impact

Nicole Klemp

Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) help align and motivate teams and individuals to reach personal and professional goals. But for this popular goal-setting framework to be effective, OKRs must be well crafted. 

Poorly-written OKRs can do more harm than good by being too vague, not measurable, or focused on the wrong things. To move your business forward, employees need to be inspired, challenged, and motivated to do their best work with powerful, meaningful goals.

So, what makes an OKR great? In this article, we’ll break down the framework for writing impactful objectives and key results and share some OKR examples you can use as a guide when crafting your own. 

Writing powerful OKRs: The basics

In the OKR framework, “objectives” represent the goals of the organization, team, or individual. “Key results” describe the measures used to gauge performance on each objective.

Think of objectives like a headline of what you are trying to accomplish — they should be aspirational, inspiring, and infer the “why” behind the initiative. Objectives should be the answer to the question “So what?” Key Results are more like subheadings, and provide specificity on what exactly you are aiming for. They are measures or milestones, without which you would not have achieved success. They should be grounded in data, time bound, numeric, and real.

The OKR formula

OKRs describe what an individual (or team or organization) wants to achieve and what success toward that goal looks like. When writing personal OKRs, company OKRs, or team OKRs, consider this simple formula:

We/I will do X as measured by Y.

The X represents the objective (what you want to accomplish), and the Y represents the key results that, when accomplished, will move you closer to achieving that objective.

The OKR recipe

Think of an OKR as a recipe for success. To make it great, you need to put in just the right ingredients. Objectives and key results must be perfectly balanced and complement each other to get the best outcome. If you get one of these ingredients wrong, your OKR soufflé will fall flat. 

Here are a few rules of thumb for developing great objectives and key results.

Objectives should be:

  • Aspirational
  • Catchy
  • Inspiring

Key results should be:

  • Measurable
  • Actionable
  • Challenging

When whipping up a tasty OKR, see if you can answer all (or most) of the following questions.

Is your objective: 

  • Powerful/inspiring?
  • Clear on “why” it matters?
  • Forward-looking or transformational?

Are your key results:

  • Both quantitative and qualitative?
  • Challenging enough (or too easy to achieve)?
  • Free from any unintended consequences?

Beware of creating too many OKRs 

The idea that you can have too much of a good thing definitely applies in the world of goal setting. You can create the greatest, most impactful OKRs in the world, but if there are too many of them, your team will experience diminishing returns. 

Remember, when everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. So when developing OKRs, focus on 3-5 of the most critical objectives for your team or organization. This radical focus allows individuals to prioritize the most important tasks and aligns everyone around shared goals.

There are no bad goals, just poorly-written OKRs

When OKRs aren’t clear or well-written, it not only prevents a team from achieving those goals but can also negatively impact the employee experience. 

Several factors drive employee engagement, including role clarity and a sense of purpose. But these drivers are hard to come by when an individual doesn’t know what they should be spending their time on or why they’re prioritizing one task over another.

So to keep team members engaged and focused on the right things, let’s dive into how you can turn “bad” OKRs into good ones. We’ll start with objectives.

Example of a poorly-written objective: Provide better customer service.

The problem with this objective is that it doesn’t provide a “why” and doesn’t meet our qualifications for a good objective. (Remember, a good objective is aspirational, catchy, and inspiring.)

So, how can we fix the above objective? Here’s an example of one that accomplishes the same goal while meeting those criteria:

New objective: Transform our customer service team to become best-in-class in our industry. 

So now we have an objective that is aspirational, uses inspiring language, and explains why the goal is important. 

Now, let’s move on to the key results. What do “bad” key results for this objective look like?

Example of poorly-written key results:

  • Treat our customers well every day.
  • Motivate our customer service reps to provide better service.

While those key results aren’t inherently “bad” (of course you should treat customers well every day!), they’re too vague and don’t meet our criteria for good key results. (Remember, a good key result is measurable, actionable, and challenging.)

New key results:

  • Increase average customer satisfaction survey score from 7.5 to 8.5 this quarter.
  • Implement a quarterly performance bonus for customer service reps with average satisfaction scores of 8.5 and above.

Now, your team has a great objective with actionable key results to help them achieve it. The goal was always to provide better customer service, but now the team knows what success looks like and how to get there.

Examples of good OKRs 

Now you know how to construct (or reconstruct) your objectives and key results for more effective OKRs. Read on for some additional example OKRs that make an impact.

Objective: Recruit & hire top talent to rocket our organization to the next level.

Key results: 

  • Launch an employee referral program in Q2.
  • Re-evaluate and adjust compensation by the end of the year to be more industry competitive.
  • Deploy hiring campaigns on three top job sites this month.

Objective: Turn our best customers into loyal brand ambassadors.

Key results:

  • Develop and launch a customer community in Q3.
  • Publish 10 new customer case studies by the end of the year.
  • Increase NPS score from 6.5 to 7.5 between Q2 and Q4.

Objective: Build a high-performance sales machine. 

Key results:

  • Increase average close rate from 24% to 29% in Q3.
  • Increase BDR prospecting call goals from 25 per week to 30 per week.
  • Grow average deal size from $9K to $11K this year.

Objective: Become the most talked-about brand in the HR tech space.

Key results:

  • Have 2+ thought leadership articles placed in top industry publications each month.
  • Get 100+ new newsletter subscribers each quarter.
  • Secure 3+ main stage speaking opportunities for the CEO this event season.

Create and track impactful OKRs with 15Five 

It’s easier than ever to set OKRs and track progress 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. 

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