The process of goal-setting with OKRs is flexible and adjustable along the way. As we've cautioned excited customers that are just starting out with OKRs, it might take a few quarters to really dial in the best way to structure your goals -- and that's ok. OKRs are designed to be agile with continuous iteration.

However, a few best practices go a long way in ensuring that teams have a set of unambiguous and focused goals to work towards.

Best practices

  • Start by defining big picture, annual Objectives at the organization level. These are the top strategic goals by senior management that require collaboration and link various departments and teams within the organization. 

  • Senior leaders should stress the unique importance of setting these goals. After all, you're mapping the future direction of your company, so it shouldn't just be another 11am meeting squeezed in on a Thursday before running to lunch. That said, it doesn't mean the meeting can't be enjoyable. 

  • Many companies find it helpful to host this planning session outside the traditional office environment, at a team offsite or company retreat. Make sure to give your team enough time to thoughtfully think through what their goals will be for the upcoming year.

  • It's ok to start with pre-existing templates, and then customize them to make them your own. Within Ally (Choose Add Objective -> See Sample OKRs), we offer popular OKR templates for the following departments: Company level, Sales, Marketing, Finance, People, Product Management, Engineering, Administration, Customer Success, and Design.

  • Stick to 3 to 5 Objectives at every level. Too many Objectives distract us from attaining the ones that matter.

  • Objectives must be actionable, yet aspirational. They are stretch goals that should make you feel slightly uncomfortable.

  • Every Objective should have 3 to 5 Key Results. Together, the Key Results must help realize the Objective. Every Key Result should be measurable. 

  • Alignment is a key aspect of the OKR process. This means Key Results of one team may become the Objectives of another team, or team-level quarterly objectives can be aligned to company-level annual objectives.

  • Allow teams and individuals to create about 40% of their OKRs. A healthy mix of top-down and bottom-up OKRs at every level improves employee engagement and encourages innovation.

Additional Resources

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