You’ve just implemented your company’s Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), and you’re feeling good about it. But there is one thing that is nagging at you: How will you communicate these OKRs to everyone in the company?
Creating an OKR communication strategy is essential for any organization that wants to implement OKRs. A clear and concise communication plan ensures everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals.
OKRs as an alignment tool
As an alignment tool, OKRs are similar to traditional goals. But there are a few key differences. Many times goals do not include a numerical/measurable element. This quality keeps them open to interpretation. Contrast that to OKRs, where Key results are an integral part of the game. These key results are crystal clear to everyone and leave no room for ambiguity.
Thus OKRs help everyone understand how their day-to-day work contributes to the company’s bigger plans. It also helps everyone understand how their work contributes to their objectives, which in turn contributes to the OKRs of their department and the company. Tools like UpRaise for Employee Success help organizations define, create, manage, and report OKRs effectively. An intuitive app built natively for Jira, UpRaise makes it possible to clearly map out the necessary alignments.
Top-Down or Bottom-Up?
As a company, we have decided that OKRs are a great fit for us. But how do we ensure that our employees understand our strategy and are aligned with it?
The answer depends on the size and structure of your organization. There are two common ways companies communicate their strategy: top-down and bottom-up.
In a top-down approach, the leadership communicates its plan directly to employees. This may come in via presentations or a series of emails. Alternatively, leaders may create a dashboard and allow employees to access it online. The main benefit of a top-down approach is that leadership can ensure all employees receive the essential information they need to align with the company’s strategy. The potential problem is that employees may need to fully understand their role in achieving these objectives.
A bottom-up approach allows employees to learn the strategy first-hand. This may come through training or by giving employees access to internal forums where they can ask questions. The leaders will know if all employees are fully informed once they have attempted to do so themselves. A bottom-up approach runs the risk of being repetitive or confusing for employees. However, a great benefit is that leaders won’t need to explain the strategy, which can save time.
Usually a mix of both, top-down & bottom-up, works best for most organizations.
Transparency of OKR tracking
Once your employees are informed about the strategy, you will need to help them understand how they can contribute and be accountable for their goals.
There are many ways to do this, but providing transparency over the company’s OKRs is a great start.
Involve employees in the process of setting the OKRs and creating the KPIs. This will help employees understand how their jobs are tied to the bigger picture. Even if there is a better time to reveal your own goals, it is still helpful for employees to see their leader involved in the process. Being transparent about your objectives shows that you are trustworthy and willing to take risks.
To ensure that you are fully transparent and that your entire team is aligned, use an OKR management software or tool. Look for software that can easily integrate with your existing workflow and increase engagement. For instance, UpRaise OKR software is natively developed for Jira with enterprise-grade flexibility. This OKR tracking software also helps keep everyone on the same page without having to check in with your employees constantly. Here is a quick guide to what to look for in an OKR software.
After companies implement an OKR strategy, they often have productive conversations that would never have occurred otherwise. Often, these conversations lead to ideas for improvement from employees that had never been discussed during performance reviews. Use feedback loops to keep the conversation going. This can be done through regular one-on-one meetings or group sessions in which leaders and employees discuss their progress. A common mistake is for leaders to spend too much time upfront defining the goals and then not following up with employees to see how they are doing and allow them to learn from their progress and mistakes.
The number one reason companies fail to execute their OKR strategy is a need for more commitment from leadership and employees. Avoid complacency by ensuring all employees can review their progress and receive feedback from their leader. This can be tricky if you have many employees, but keeping them engaged and motivated is crucial. By keeping the communication process in mind, you can ensure that everyone is committed to the company objectives and individual goals. Companies should spend time evaluating their OKR communication strategy before its implementation.
Communicating strategy using OKR in 8 steps
Step 1: Define your objectives: What are you trying to achieve?
Step 2: Draft your key results: Are your key results specific and measurable?
Step 3: Set up milestones: What are the major milestones you need to hit? When do you want to achieve the objectives and key results?
Step 4: Create a communication plan: How often will you communicate?
Step 5: Create a tracking system: How will you track your progress? Are you using an OKR tracking software?
Step 6: Train your managers: Explain to key personnel how your OKRs fit into your company’s overall strategy.
Step 7: Assign responsibility: Who is responsible for achieving these objectives and key results?
Roll out the OKRs:
Schedule a meeting with your team.
Explain the OKRs.
Start implementing your strategy.
Try, review, and try again.
The main goal of implementing an OKR strategy (or any strategy for that matter) is to drive company performance. The most effective companies are those that effectively execute their plans over long periods. This requires commitment from leadership and employees, effective communication, regular reviews, and continuous improvement. Companies with great OKR strategies survive tough times and emerge stronger than before. Toyota revolutionized its manufacturing process after the company adopted Kano’s theories. Great leaders realize that daily engagement and follow-up make the most significant difference in the long run.
The most crucial step is to get your strategy off the paper and into action. Start small and ramp up as you go. Most things do not look rosy in the first three months, so don’t be disheartened if you’re not perfect – try, review, and try again.