Why we love OKRs.Sep 25, 2023
A message from our founder
Let me introduce myself: I am Rianne, entrepreneur, CEO and founder of Practic. I became a Managing Director at 25 and started my own business at 28. I have always found that leading a team is a real art: it is not easy to make sure that everyone feels happy at a workplace and is able to bring the best they can to show results. COVID-19 has brought an extra challenge to managers: not being able to see people every day has challenged us to set even clearer goals.
At the start of the pandemic I sold my digital marketing agency and became the CEO of the newly merged business. This meant that my team went from 20 to 80 people. I had already used OKRs at my agency, but now I knew that I had to double down on this method: managing 80 people meant I was not able to know “by head” what everyone was doing, and I felt a strong responsibility to create clarity for the entire team on the direction of the company.
When I joined the new company, OKRs had already been introduced to the team. It was safe to say that nobody liked them - we struggled making good OKRs, and everyone was worried what would happen if they did not meet their OKR.
At the same time, the team asked me to fix 2 main things as the new CEO:
create clarity on the strategy of the company and
provide clear roles and responsibilities.
From experience at my agency I thought that OKRs should be able to solve that problem, so I decided to not give up on OKRs just yet. Here are a few things we managed to solve through OKRs:
Bring back inspiration: I am convinced people do not mind to work hard: but they want to know why they are working hard. Great objectives can bring that inspiration to your team. Pro tip: it’s almost never more money for the owner of the business ;).
Cutting out the “busy-ness”: All of us were working long days and way too many extra hours. Unfortunately, the results were not as they were supposed to be. Since working harder was no option (it probably almost never is), we decided to work more focussed, and OKRs helped us to exactly do that. Our objectives provided us the why and the key results measure how usefull the things we do are: in this way, we decided what takes priority.
Alignment (or “no more surprises”): Our product team was making things that our sales team did not know they were supposed to sel, and our marketing team did not know they were supposed to market. OKRs helped us to ensure everyone was aware of the overall company ambitions, and therefor all worked together: no more surprises.
Finally, we changed our way of working to try to make the OKRs work for us. I would summarize them as follows:
Do not be afraid to fail: I realized it was scary to put our goals so explicitly on paper, because what if we failed? The key was: we are OK with failing. We try our best, and IF we fail we have an open discussion about the reason behind the failure and we see how we can all support together to turn it into a success next time.
Work together: OKRs are set in line with the overal goals of the company. This means that when your colleague needs your help to achieve his/her OKRs, you are all supporting the greater good. It is not only about achieving your own OKR: it is about achieving all OKRs.
It is safe to say that after about 1,5 years, everyone in the team loves OKRs. Above all, OKRs have helped everyone in the team to save a lot of time and energy because we all know which goals we are trying to achieve, and what our individual contribution is to getting there. This showed in our quarterly employee survey: collaboration (+22%), appreciation (+20%) and clarity on roles and responsibiliteis (+13%) all made huge improvements.
Are you looking to see how we can support you with the implementation of OKRs? Have a look at our OKR training & coaching programs and feel free to get in touch!