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Airtable's Product Team

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How to write effective OKRs: what you need to know

OKRs—also called objectives and key results—are a powerful, collaborative framework for managing and realizing goals. But their effectiveness depends entirely upon how well they're written. 

This guide will teach you how to create OKRs that stick. You’ll learn the core components of OKRs, the best practices for writing OKRs, and how to track them. 

OKR tracking template

What are OKRs? 

OKR is an acronym for Objectives and Key Results. It’s a goal-management framework that helps companies set better goals and execute strategies more effectively. 

Unlike other frameworks, OKRs bind your people and tasks to common goals. They’re presented in a system of three parts.

  • Objectives are concise statements of your goals and intents—what you're hoping to achieve with your efforts. They should be aspirational and meaningful to your entire organization. 

  • Key Results are measurable milestones that you aim to achieve within a certain period. They should contribute directly to your Objective.

  • And finally, Initiatives are the tasks that help you achieve your Key Results.

Here’s an example of an OKR, broken down:

  • Objective: Put a man on the moon

  • Key result: Complete a lunar module design by December 1967

Teams that use OKRs tend to have more cross-team alignment and transparency, and can better focus on results that matter. All it takes to get started are three steps:

  • Write down your goal.

  • Set a time frame.

  • Assign three to five key results or measurable tasks that you can track.

How to write effective OKRs

When implemented well, OKRs help you, your team, and your entire organization become more unified in the pursuit of your shared goals. But you’ve got to write them down first!

Here are some best practices for writing OKRs that foster discipline and alignment. 


  • Objectives should be inspiring but achievable. They should be practical accomplishments, but described in a way that motivates teams to tackle them.

  • The ideal number of objectives varies, but ideally should be no more than three. 

  • Because they are meant to be achievable, objectives should be gradable. At the end of the given period (a month, a quarter, or a year), you’ll have a clear idea of how you performed.

Key Results:

  • Key results should be specific, time bound, and measurable. (That framework is called SMART goals) A great way to think about them is that they're itemized outcomes, not task lists. 

  • The ideal number of Key Results can vary depending on things like team size–start with 3-5 and work from there!

  • Key results are trackable outcomes, so you should assign them numeric values, like “increase video viewership by 150%” or “launch 12 new features.” 

Here are a few unique OKR examples: 

Company-wide OKR

Objective: Build a great corporate culture

Key Results

Achieve Employee Satisfaction Score of >8 in all weekly pulse surveys

Organize monthly company outings

Hold bi-monthly "buddy" dates where pairs of employees have lunch together

Recognize at least 2 "wins" for each department in every All Hands meeting

Increase employee retention to 80%

Marketing OKR

Objective: Increase social-media audience

Key Results: 

Increase the number of followers on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Facebook  by 10,000

Create a social media strategy and calendar for the the 3 months of August, September, and October

Run a social-media contest in coordination with the Community team

Customer success OKR

Objective: Create a world-class customer-support function

Key Results: 

Decrease average response time from 2hrs to <45mins

Improve NPS score to 65+

Decrease churn rate from 18% to <10%

Create a new customer feedback form and implement it as a bi-yearly survey

OKR tracking template

 How to track your OKRs

Your Key Results are where you’ll devote most of your attention during an OKR period. If the Key Results you've chosen are measurable and tied to a meaningful Objective, tracking your OKRs is just a matter of process and setup. 

Here's how you do it: hold regular team check-ins, where team members determine how confident they are they’ll hit a key result (it can be helpful to convey this through a percentage like 50% or 100%). Tracking goal confidence levels with OKR management tools is a common practice that keeps everyone aligned on which areas to focus.

Here are a few examples:

Project Management OKR Example

Objective: Launch a new product

Key Results:

Conduct 20 user testing sessions on existing customers

Conduct 15 user testing sessions on non-customers

Increase the sign-up to trial Conversion Rate from 12% to 25%

Get over 1,000 new sign-ups

Conduct 50 phone interviews with key sales prospects for feedback 

Engineering OKR Example

Objective: Improve the quality of the product

Key Results:

Reduce page loadtime on all pages to 2 seconds or less

Reduce the average number of new bugs reported from 50 per month to 30 per month

Maintain 99.95% site uptime

Sales OKR Example

Objective: Hit quarterly revenue target of $1M

Key Results:

Achieve 100% renewal rate for customers up for renewal 

Make 200 new connections per sales rep

Increase the conversion rate from SQL to Opportunity to 15%

Decrease the average sales cycle from 50 days to 35 days

Pro tip:

Not all Objectives will have the same number of Key Results—and that's okay! It's better to have fewer Key Results than to try to add more for more’s sake.

Using OKRs to track your company’s goals can bring clarity and confidence to everyone using them.

And Airtable makes OKR management…well…manageable. It's perfectly designed to maximize visibility across your team, simplify your task management, and track your data. Planning your next batch of OKRs is simple: get started with our OKR tracking template today.

OKR tracking template

About the author

Airtable's Product Teamis committed to building world-class products, and empowering world-class product builders on our platform.

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