How to Improve Team Focus with OKRs

OKRs can be incredibly beneficial in aiding to achieve goals faster and creating a cohesive team environment for employees. While there are many reasons why companies decide to use OKRs (such as to hit sales and/or financial goals), one big benefit of using this business tool is that it creates and improves focus within teams, allowing for a much more aligned working environment.

What are OKRs?

An OKR is a framework that’s used within businesses to help set and achieve goals within the company. This goal-setting framework consists of three components:

  • Objectives
  • Key results
  • Activities

An objective is either a financial or sales goal that’s being set. The key result is the marker that indicates to your team that they’re on the right track to achieving the objective. Activities are actionable steps that must be taken in order to achieve the objective. 

The challenge that OKRs solves

In an entrepreneurial venture or business, chaos can quickly develop among the many aspects of a business. Even within separate departments and teams, there can be simply too much to do, which causes confusion and stress, resulting in overwhelmed employees. 

Unfortunately, being in this state of mind doesn’t enhance productivity, but can actually undermine it. It can lead to employees feeling sick, tired, and unmotivated. An even bigger problem is that a business environment requires flexibility as priorities change on a continuous basis. If the focus isn’t adapted as quickly as the priorities change, teams often end up prioritizing the wrong thing, which simply isn’t effective. 

The importance of team focus

Team focus is crucial to any kind of organization and working environment that requires collaboration. When a team works well together, it allows for the team to be more productive, deliver projects quickly, and produce better results. It also positively impacts the employees’ satisfaction with their job, which only benefits the team and organization in the long run. 

When a team is able to work as one, it means there is clarity and purpose. Clarity and purpose allow for individuals to work together, to bond, to work efficiently, and to be innovative and creative when approaching a problem. This is why implementing OKRs is so important, as it helps create just that kind of team focus and working environment.

How OKRs help improve team focus

1. OKRs are born in co-creation

When a new cycle (quarter or year) starts, it is the opportunity to think about the upcoming OKRs. Across the organization, teams will identify common goals they want to achieve. For a given team, it means gathering all team members and discussing companies priorities and objectives and discussing what contributions the team can achieve. It can be designed in a way that provides individuals the opportunity to share their thoughts, exchange, and align. Once the OKRs are defined, the team is aligned and there is no need for ongoing discussions about it, leaving more time for execution!

2. OKRs push to prioritize a small number of goals

When used correctly, OKRs focus on a handful of objectives — no more than three to five. The same applies to key results. Not having a streamlined goal or set of goals can result in distraction and a lack of focus. When there are too many goals, it’s difficult for your team to work together, and they end up splitting their time and attention between several areas. However, if there is one or a handful of goals, employees can work together with determination and focus.

By having a limited number of objectives and key results, the team’s focus is pulled together towards that specific set of goals. It allows for collaboration to happen smoothly and for teams to work together.

3. OKRs help determine priorities

Teams are always susceptible to distractions, and there’s always something new that could be done to improve a business. However, not all of those activities are crucial at any given moment. Having an OKR creates focus by bringing attention to what’s important and what isn’t important for your team. 

A good rule of thumb to have when implementing an OKR is: If it isn’t included in the OKR, think twice before agreeing to do it and ask yourself why you’re doing it. 

4. OKRs enforce accountability

It’s natural for people to get distracted. It’s inevitable, really! However, what helps get people back on track is by having regular weekly check-ins, which is something teams should implement when using OKRs. When discussing the key results, activities, and objectives on an ongoing basis, your team can determine if any adjustments are necessary or if progress is being made at the pace you need it to be made. 

These regular check-ins also work as a form of accountability. It helps remind every team of their area of focus, what activities they should be doing on a daily basis, and what they’re working towards. This creates a renewed team focus and sense of culture within the team.

Staying flexible while implementing OKRs

OKRs emphasize the importance of structure. However, a certain amount of flexibility is required for optimal use. So how can you and your team use OKRs without becoming too rigid?

  • Conduct weekly check-ins. These help your team align with the objectives, as well as allow for you to change any part of the OKR to better serve your team and make significant progress. 
  • Conduct quarterly OKR reviews. Use these reviews to compare and contrast your results from each quarter. See what went particularly well in one quarter to include in the next. Use whatever didn’t go well as a lesson as to what to do differently in the next quarter.

Fine-tuning your OKRs

Managing a team can be extremely difficult, as team focus isn’t always there. However, OKRs help reestablish focus and get everyone involved in working towards a common goal. OKRmentors helps businesses implement OKRs in a way that fits their teams and organization by offering masterclasses, expert help, and much more. 

By educating yourself on the ins and outs of OKRs, you will be able to create more effective teams and build an environment that encourages team focus. This enables you to achieve the organization’s goals efficiently and effectively in a time and cost-effective manner.

For more information, check out OKR Certification Trainings. Our courses offer educational content and numerous resources to help ensure you get the most out of OKRs.

Remember, it's never too late to embrace change and unleash the true potential of your organization. Take the first step today with OKRs.