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4 min read

[Blog] Why OKR Training is Critical to OKR Success

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There are plenty of ways to learn about OKRs, whether through articles, books, videos, webinars, podcasts, or any other content format or medium out there. However, to ensure your OKR program drives consistent and tangible results, ensuring employees are properly trained on the popular goal-setting methodology is an approach that will yield more positive outcomes over the long-term.

Get Quick Wins First

Once an operational people leader starts to roll out OKRs, it can be exciting but daunting at the same time. The idea of having a group of people totally aligned to a common Objective, and actually tangibly moving the needle and seeing progress via Key Results is ideal, but it will take time.

The natural progression of any successful OKR program is starting small, getting some quick wins, and building on the momentum. The starting small part is pretty straightforward. You can start with yourself and an individual OKR, or something related to your team, collaborate during meetings, and track progress in a spreadsheet or tool. However, once things go beyond reaching a "few" and become about reaching "many," things can get challenging and start to break down. 

Scalable OKRs Will Require Scalable OKR Training

Getting larger-scale adoption, buy-in, and consistent results from employees outside of your immediate reach is really outside of your control. The influence of your initial OKR champion and early adopters are limited to how much they interface with the rest of the business, and without a consistent place to point employees to, the success rate and ultimately the upside of your OKR program (or even your business) is hindered. Many try to solve this problem with just OKR software, and although very possible, leading with training is typically the better approach and where we'll be focusing here.

Onboarding and training current employees to the OKR methodology is often limited to a kickoff meeting paired with slides that no one will ever reference again. Furthermore, new employees onboarding into your business won't have the context or the "why" of OKRs and constantly playing catch up. The only hope for them is they've read the books or pick things up by osmosis, both of which aren't guaranteed.

Standardizing OKRs without Compromising Flexibility

Beyond the challenge of providing consistent training on OKRs, understanding the nuances and definitions is an area that can invite confusion and conflict. If you look up any examples of OKRs online, you'll see A LOT of very poorly written ones (go ahead, give it a try). Ambiguous and poorly tracked OKRs should be avoided like the plague because people will either sandbag, feel like OKRs are homework, or possibly both. To scale the methodology effectively, having clear definitions of what OKRs are, and are not, are critical.

Knowing each business is unique, having the flexibility to make OKRs work for your culture is also critical. This typically happens naturally as an OKR leader will write the "rules of the road" in many cases, but the challenge here is it's not very collaborative or gets shoved in a digital filing cabinet. Once the slides are presented, they are often forgotten, becoming yet another untethered document of tribal knowledge that runs the risk of never being effectively utilized. For OKRs, iterating on learnings, sharing successes, and having a centralized place to talk about experiences is what can turn a good OKR program into a great one.

Leading with B2B OKR Training

So how can all these challenges be minimized? B2B OKR training.

B2B OKR training is when your entire company gets access to the same courseware in a dedicated learning environment. It's scalable, trackable, and easily accessible. Instead of hoping employees "just get it" or they read the books, B2B OKR training is a surefire way to see who is engaging, learning, and progressing with methodology. The good news is B2B OKR training doesn't need to be long-form learning which takes away from the day-to-day of the business, but rather a rapid way to quickly train the masses and put the learnings to practice. When rolled out effectively, the impact can be seen almost immediately.

Scalable & Dedicated Learning Environments

High-quality B2B OKR training offers curated learning experiences for different personas and skill levels. If you are just getting started, learn the basics. If you're a novice, take the more advanced courses. And if you're an OKR program leader, become certified to maximize the overall effectiveness of your implementation. And when new employees start, you'll have a centralized place to ensure they start on the right track.

True Best Practices

In addition to the primary benefit of scalability B2B OKR training provides, having a standardized set of internal definitions and best practices to reference is a close second. Knowing the difference between KPIs and a Key Result, identifying output and trying to make it more outcome-focused, or reducing ambiguous language for Objectives or Key Results are all examples of ways to standardize the way you talk about OKRs. "Singing from the same hymn sheet" is often the best way to think about this, or "running the same playbook." If this isn't happening, it's probably chaotic.

And finally, if the bulk of what OKRs are gives you 80% of what you need, then the other 20% you can make your own. OKR forums or linked documents are a great way to consistently track experiences - the good and the bad - in a centralized and collaborative environment. By being able to reference those successes, best practices, and anything else that is unique to your business, it will make the program more valuable over time. It's a strategic system of record for your business that can live on forever.

Finally, a Shared Strategic System of Record

In conclusion, although OKRs can be learned, practiced, and tracked in a number of different ways, by leading with training and focusing on alignment and standardization, the ultimate benefits of OKRs can be realized. For businesses primed to scale up, the operational process is critical regardless, and bolting on a formal way to approach OKRs can yield benefits outside of just the results they produce. When paired with simple, intuitive, and engaging OKR software, this can get employees motivated, bought-in, and proactively contributing to the right business priorities. This level of focus and alignment is the primary purpose of OKRs, and by leading with a shared understanding, shared knowledge, and a shared strategic language, the possibilities are endless.


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