Using OKRs In Startups To Measure Success

by Srikant Chellappa Sep 4,2020

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

With so many businesses starting to function remotely, it has now more than ever become important to use a proper goal setting system for small businesses. This is where we introduce OKRs to you.

It is understandable if you, as a business leader at a startup, feel that OKRs are for only larger enterprises and small businesses cannot benefit from them. Though the truth is that OKRs have proven to be beneficial to the larger businesses, you can’t rule out the fact that it can also be a very valuable tool that can benefit any team regardless of their size.

Let’s quickly jump into OKRs:

What Are OKRs?

OKRs stand for ‘Objectives And Key Results’. OKRs are a popular approach for goal-setting which allows employees to execute individual and organizational goals.

OBJECTIVES are something that you want to achieve,  and KEY RESULTS are a measurable way to keep track of how close you are to achieve your objective.

OKRs help you set objectives and key results which keep track of the progress on the process as well as the outcome.

Ideally, OKRs should answer these two questions:

Objectives – What Do You Desire To Achieve?

Key Results – How To Know If You Are Getting Closer To Achieving It?



Increase market reach by 35% by Q4

Key Results:

  • 2nd largest distributor network in Q2 growing at 15% per month
  • Voted most popular product across 5 leading publications

Now that we have established what OKRs are in actuality, let’s understand how you can use them for your small business. Just like every other tool that you implement into your organization, OKRs also need to be implemented step by step, by gradually understanding the state of your organizational acceptance for OKRs.

Also Read: The Essential Guide To OKRs: Your Ultimate Tool To Setting Winning Goals

Formal Introduction

It is to be understood that a startup might not actually have a formal goal setting process in place, this is where you start communicating the importance of having one at your workplace.

OKRs might seem like a very complex management tactic in the beginning, but the truth is that they are simple and easy to apply. Not only do they help organizations set clear goals, but they also help organizations measure those goals. OKRs are a really great way of getting your team on track and aligning the work that they do with the organization’s overall objectives.

If you want them to utilize it to its fullest potential, then it is important they know how it works. While there are a number of OKR guides out there, why not go to the one that is synonymous with the term OKRs. Google has an OKR guide that will take users through history and set up and even teach them how to write actionable OKRs. Once they are familiar with the concept of OKRs, you can move onto the next step.

goal setting guideCommunicate Your Mission And Vision

The true purpose of achievable goals and objectives is for them to be aligned with the organizational goals. However, if your organization does not have its objectives visibly spelled out somewhere, how can you expect your team to have aligned goals?

Therefore, at this step, it is important to set and communicate the organization’s vision and mission. So, before you ask your team to start preparing their OKRs, establish your organization’s objectives and even more important, establish your team’s overall objectives!

Next Read: 5 Reasons To Use OKRs At Work – The New Employee Edition

Adopt The New Framework

At this step, you have to understand that you rushing your employees to use OKRs without preparing them beforehand can lead to the drop of morale and decreased productivity. So, give them time to adopt to the new framework. Allow them to make mistakes and learn from them.

Once all your teams are sufficiently familiar with the approach, encourage them to draft their own OKRs. Collaborate with them and help them create their OKRs, this can sometimes lead to conversations that help you understand your teams and their plans better. It allows employees to understand what is expected of them by management.

Also read: OKRs Vs KPI

Quick Feedback Cycle

In addition to however your direct reports choose to check in on their OKRs, it is important to schedule short weekly or bi-weekly one on one meeting with them. This is not to just keep track of their progress. It is to also see how you can help them achieve their goals.

Maybe they are falling behind because they have other pressing projects to deal with. Or maybe they have already completed their goals and need more of a challenge? Either way, there is no way for a manager to know all of this only by looking at a goal, its description, and the progress bar.

Srikant Chellappa
CEO & Co-Founder of Engagedly

Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2024.

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