Objectives and Key Results - otherwise known as OKRs - is a simple yet effective process of goal management by objectives. Having clearly defined and measurable goals provides employees clarity on what they should aspire to achieve and clear direction on the company strategy. Setting Objectives and Key Results is an effective way to boost productivity, as well as align individuals with the wider company objectives.
PeopleGoal translates this multi-step process to a seamless workflow in our Objectives and Key Results app. The app template is ready to go if you're looking for a quick solution, or you can easily customize the process using our simple, no-code workflow builder. Finally, with one step you can align individual OKRs with your company objectives.
Following the steps below, install and launch an Objectives and Key Results process in a few minutes:
It will take a few seconds to add install the app in your account, and you'll be taken straight to the app to get started.
All of the pre-built review questions and states are installed and ready to go. You can use the app right out of the box!
To skip the customization, jump to step 4 and set up your app participants and permissions.
If you wish to customize the template, click the Template menu, and then Edit template.
Elements are your individual form fields that make up the objectives process, and each element is completely customizable and can be changed to suit your custom process and company culture.
In this example, we will change the "Add a more detailed description for this objective (optional)" field to have a different title. We will also mark it as "required" so that the objective owner has to fill in this field.
Reordering is easy - you just click and drag to change the element or section order.
At the bottom of each section, click Add element and select the element type you want to insert.
A new element that's useful to add to your first section is a display-only Description or Rich-text area. You can use this to remind employees and managers of the key OKRs cycle dates, or give instructions on how to complete their objectives and key results.
In the below example, we are going to add a section for tracking KPIs, which are often used in addition to key results. We'll make this a repeatable element so that users can add as many KPIs as they need for their objective.
States are the steps in your Objectives and Key Results workflow, and each state has its own participant. The "Objective Owner" is one state and the employee is the participant, and the manager will most likely be the "Objective Approver".
There's no limit to the number of states you can add to your OKRs workflow, allowing you easily create a complex process where different stakeholders can weigh in. You can also control the visibility of sections (and individual elements) in every state, and select whether they are read-only, editable or hidden to the selected state participant.
In our example the employees don't need manager approval on their objectives, so we're going to take out the "Approve OKR" state. We'll need to also delete the "Objective Approval" app template section, so that the approval questions aren't included in the employee's workflow.
In the below example, we are going to add a state for a second "Objective Approval", to confirm that this objective can be closed once all updates have been made. We are going to create a state for this section so that the OKR can be sent to the manager one more time. This section is only relevant after the objective updates have been made, so we're also going to hide it from all other states. Lastly, we want the manager to be able to read the OKR details and updates so we will make sure to mark all other sections as read-only, and make the final approval editable in the appropriate state.
Every state has a default status flag that indicates to all participants what stage of the process their item is in. Your OKRs app is set up with default status flags which you can customize.
It's a good idea to delete any unused status flags so that they don't clutter up your Item filter once your OKRs are underway. If you've taken out your Objective Approval state for example, you should also remove the "Approval required" and "Rejected" status flags.
Participants are the individuals involved in the OKRs and each state has one participant. To automate your OKRs, you can create default participants based on your account Relationships, define an individual as the state participant, or leave these blank to allow the employee to select all participants in the process.
Setting up your participants based on relationships means that when an employee's OKR is created, all of the people who need to be involved in the workflow are automatically assigned.
Visibility defines whether a participant can see the OKRs only in the state that they own (limited visibility), or in all states (full visibility).
The employee and manager should have full visibility because we want them both to see the OKR in all states.
However, if you want to change a visibility level, click the drop-down next to the participant name and choose Limited or Full visibility.
Click Save changes to lock in your updates.
Nearly ready to launch! The last step in automating the OKRs workflow is to decide who can create, edit and/or view all the OKRs in your account. To do this, we use Permissions.
Permissions control the access to your app within your PeopleGoal account.
For OKRs we recommend one of two options. Either you set the permission to Create only; this means employees can create OKRs for themselves but can't see any colleagues' OKRs.
Alternatively, you can set the permission to Create and view. This means that employees can create OKRs for themselves and see their colleagues' OKRs. To view colleagues' OKRs, select Your colleagues from the menu on the left hand side.
The user who installed the OKRs app template has Owner permission by default, and can assign specific permissions to other teams or users. Specific team and user permissions supersede the default permission type.
You might want to give "Create and view" permission to your C-Suite, so that they can create OKRs for themselves and see all other OKRs in the app, but they don't need access to the Template or app Settings menus.
Additionally, you should set a specific Relationship permission to give the manager "Create, view and edit" permission for their direct reports. Managers will then be able to create OKRs for their direct reports, including all the objective details needed in the first state.
A key part of the OKRs strategy is to have employees link their individual targets to the wider company objectives by following these quick steps.
Before you start, ensure that you have input your company objectives into PeopleGoal with the Company Objectives App. This can be downloaded as a template from the app store, or found in the Performance workspace under Goals.
Now, when employees create an individual OKR for themselves they'll be able to select from all of the available company objectives to align their goal to the organization's strategic objectives.
You're ready to roll! All you need to do now is kick off the OKRs process for your employees. You can create these for individuals, have users create OKRs for themselves, or set up a regularly recurring OKRs schedule.
Especially when you're getting started with OKRs for the first time, it's a great idea to set up regular reminders to everyone to create their OKRs. Typically these are created every quarter, but you can schedule reminders at any time based on fixed dates or relevant employee profile dates, like their hire date.
We know that every company has its unique ways of working, and the OKRs metrics you want to analyze are different to any other organization. We capture every single data point from your Objectives and Key Results app in the Data table, to help you to build custom reports and automated charts. Head over to our Reports building article to learn how to create custom reports and analytics tracking.
Once you've got your Objectives and Key Results process up and running, take a look at some of the other apps you can install within your Performance workspace.
If you haven't already, we recommend using the Company Objectives App which can be easily linked to individual OKRs (see section 6 of this article). In addition, consider implementing Performance Reviews (or reviews with multiple managers) to streamline your employee appraisal process, regular check-ins to improve your employee/manager relationships, and 360 degree feedback to gather insights from peers, colleagues and supervisors. You can find all these and more in our App Store.