The true power of OKRs will be witnessed when the OKRs are “aligned”. Aligned OKRs present how various Objectives are connected with each other. Aligning your OKRs helps to foster a unified and cohesive company by providing employees with a clear understanding of corporate objectives and how they will be contributing to the overall goals. Aligned OKRs are also a result of identifying large goals and decomposing them into smaller goals, resulting in a tree-like structure. Aligning Objectives at an organization, team and individual levels, everyone gets on the same page, working towards results that matter.
So how does one align OKRs?
Cascading – Top Down Approach
A very popular way (especially when a company is new to the usage of OKRs) is to take a top-down approach, also known as Cascading in OKR parlance. This approach is a natural choice when Objectives are primarily defined by the Leadership and Upper Management. In a nutshell, this is how it works
- Leadership of the company categorically state the goals for a given OKR period (ex: quarter)
- Once the top level goals are presented and socialised, team leaders (ex: CMO, CHRO etc..) come up with their team goals so that they benefit the top level goals.
- Once team goals are determined, Individuals in the teams do a similar exercise to capture individual level goals that benefit the team goals.
OKR Alignment Cascading Example:
Let’s say the Leadership of a company comes up with the following company objective.
Company Objective: “Become the market leader in terms of revenue”
This objective gives the direction to the various team heads to brainstorm and come up with team-level objectives. The following two could come from Marketing and Customer Success
Marketing Team Objective: “Get record signups for a limited time promotion on YouTube”
Customer Success Team Objective: “Be recognized as the most customer-centric company”
The Marketing Objective could be further broken into Individual Objectives
Individual Objective: “Deliver a YouTube video campaign that is signed off by Leadership”
Individual Objective: “Get 10K signups from the Americas”
Bottom Up Alignment
As the name implies, the Bottom-Up approach encourages individuals to come up with their OKRs with the goal to eventually align with the company-wide goals. In reality, this approach slowly makes it way when the company has some experience using the OKR framework. The larger direction or the mission of the company becomes evident by virtue of their previous OKR experience and the workforce develops awareness of this. This gives enough context for individuals to come up with goals that excite them and that eventually help grow the company.
Bottom-up Alignment Example
Let’s use the same top-level objective from the previous example.
An enterprising sales manager can come with the following OKR.
- Objective: Enable the sales team to wrt new selling tactics
- KR: Get 100% of the reps trained and certified on the new selling tactics.
- KR: Up the conversion rate from 20 to 35%
Such OKRs are collected from the bottom up and determine what makes the most sense depending on the company’s situation and aspirations. However as mentioned, in reality, companies usually start with a top-down approach and graduate their way to a combination of both top-down and bottom-up approaches. This hybrid approach balances goals set by Leadership and also incorporates goals that excite individuals.
Irrespective of the type of goals you are trying to accomplish – personal, professional, or organizational, working on them within the perspective of Objectives and Key Results is going to make the process more practical and achievable because OKRs let you focus on what matters the most and pave the path for goal execution. In addition to this, organizational OKRs bring alignment between teams and the organization, laying the foundation for High-performance culture.
To learn more about how OKRs methodology can benefit your organization and how you can transition your team to OKR methodology seamlessly, schedule a call today.