How to write OKRs (Objectives and Key Results)

I started a new job about a month ago, and at my new company every employee has to set quarterly OKRs.

What are OKRs? Never heard of them?

OKR = Objectives and Key Results.

Even if you’re not required to set OKRs as a company requirement, it’s a fantastic format for you to set personal career goals.

Here are 5 quick steps to writing OKRs.

OKRs.jpg

1 - Write down everything you’d like to accomplish this quarter.

Start with a general list. It can be messy. You’re just brainstorming right now.

Example: Launch product x, improve api documentation for x and z APIs, increase user engagement, learn how to use Tableau, improve feature y design, make sure I’m meeting new people in the New York office…

2 - Pare down the list to 3-5 objectives that are most important to you this quarter.

Cut the list until you have a top 3-5. You need to prioritize.

If you’re having a hard time prioritizing, look at the company’s quarterly goals. If they have a huge AI initiative for Q4, make sure to keep any of objectives you have that relate to that.

Example:

KEEP: Launch product x, improve api documentation for x and z APIs, learn how to use Tableau, build relationships with new people in the NY office who are working on the new AI initiatives.

SCRAP: increase user engagement, improve feature y design

3 - Write down how you will accomplish each objective.

Next to each objective, write the specific actions you can take to actually accomplish it.

Example:

OBJECTIVE: Launch product x

HOW: reduce launch gating bugs, fix login UX flow, ensure product marketing has launch materials ready

4 - Attach each how to a number/measure.

This is the hardest part. For a key result to be an actual key result, it needs to be measurable. This means you need to attach a measure to each ‘how.’

Example:

OBJECTIVE: Launch product x

HOW:

  • reduce launch gating bugs from 29 to 3

  • fix login UX flow - ensure 98% of users are logging in with zero issues/ within 2 seconds as tracked by x analytics tool.

  • ensure product marketing has 5 social media campaigns, 2 industry-specific press releases and 9 PPC campaigns ready to launch on xx date.

5 - Revisit your OKRs every Monday, and at the end of the quarter.

Treat your OKRs as your North Star. I like to start my week off looking at my quarterly goals, so I make sure I’m on track and not just doing busy work.

At the end of the quarter, check off your OKRs! What did you accomplish?

Pro tip: You can also create weekly or annual OKRs if you need shorter- or longer-term goals.

It’s that easy!

At Helix, we use a tool called 15five to log and track OKRs, and the tool also allows you to see other coworkers’ OKRs. It’s really helpful to see others’ OKRs so I can get a holistic picture.