• Richard Chambury

What are OKRs, and what do they look like and what are the benefits ..?

In this blog post we are exploring why you should use OKRs to set employee goals, why OKRs trump traditional workplace goals and what do OKRs look like ..?

The traditional approach to goal setting is where a manager sets goals at the start of the year and follows them up at them in the end.

It is flawed.

This “set it and forget it” approach is ineffective for motivating performance because it:

  1. Fails to align corporate objectives with employee career goals

  2. Doesn’t follow a system for measuring performance and effort

  3. Allows both managers and staff to forget important goals

The Objectives and Key Results (OKR) framework for setting goals is designed to remedy the above errors. When used correctly, it’s a game-changer for performance management and employee engagement.

So ... let's take a look at how you can use the OKR framework to set better workplace goals.

what are OKRs ..?

The OKR is a practical goal-setting system used by organisations - small or large - to set better goals, motivate employees and boost workplace performance.

While the origins of the system date back to the 1980s, Google popularised it as a mainstream management technique in 1999. Since then, OKRs have become an essential part of the modern performance management process.

Unlike traditional goal-setting, which often uses vague goals that are hard to monitor, OKRs are performance management tools that track progress by focusing on the overall objectives and necessary results behind every goal.

Objectives are the qualitative, broad and high-level outcomes that need to be achieved. Setting good objectives is about clarity. You should explicitly state what the objective is and the deadline for it.

Key results help quantify the objectives, breaking them down into specific steps/stages that can be used to measure performance and track progress.

realistic OKR examples

The difference between a traditional goal and an OKR goal is night and day. For example, let’s say you assign the following goal to an ambitious learning officer:

“Design and launch an internal training platform for new employees ”

It’s a big goal, isn’t it?

What makes it impractical for management and daunting for the employee, however, isn’t the size of the objective - it’s the lack of structure and clarity.

There is no way to monitor progress towards the goal, and no specific progression leading up to it - just one big objective. In this case, applying the OKR framework makes the goal more realistic and measurable.


  • Design and launch an internal training system for new employees

Key Results:

  • Survey 5 team leaders on training needs and gaps

  • Discuss training system development with three HR Directors /CLOs

  • Draft 5 training modules

  • Procure a flexible LMS and prepare it for launch

another OKR example dealing with a completely different goal:


  • Delight our customers

Key Results:

  • Reduce churn cancellation by 2%

  • Increase Net Promoter Score by 5%

  • Get customers to complete more training modules than last year

the powerful benefits of OKRs

As shown above, using the OKR framework has three distinct advantages over traditional goal setting:

  1. they provide clarity around individual and team goals

  2. they give employees a realistic, time-bound objective

  3. they allows managers to objectively assess performance and measure progress

ultimately, OKRs offer transparency

Employees know what to work towards and how they’ll be measured. In tandem, managers know how to monitor performance and set goals that align with organisational objectives.

When integrated with the rest of your performance management process, OKRs help boost employee engagement and motivate performance.

This requires an adaptable Performance Management System, like Totara Perform.

Totara Perform allows you to track OKRs (or any goal-setting approach) to support performance reviews with objective evidence, provide direction for frequent check-ins, verify 360 feedback and align big-picture objectives with employee goals.

When used with an integrated learning management system managers and employees can align their OKRs with training and career development opportunities to ensure that they have access to the knowledge and toolkits to achieve the required outcomes.

Do you want to better manage staff performance and development ...? then get in touch.

Performance Management. Solved.



#employeeexperience #performancemanagement #hrinsights #hrtech #employeeengagement #elearning #lms #learningtechnology #learninganddevelopment #gamification