Dear Andy,

My organization adopted OKRs last year and have really embraced them to plan and hold us accountable. We recently had some significant staff cuts, resulting in the loss of 25% of our division. I’m wondering if you have any advice or guidance on using OKRs to refocus the remaining staff and support the work shifts that are certain to be coming. This seems like a really good opportunity to lean into OKRs and we want to do it right. Please share any thoughts you may have!


We're sharing reader questions, answered by the team. Named in the honor of Andy Grove, the creator of OKRs.

Hi Becky!

Thanks for writing in and for your question. Staff reductions are, of course, operationally and emotionally trying. But I do have a few tips that will hopefully make the transition easier.

When layoffs happen, the process for resetting OKRs is very similar to the end of a cycle. Have layoffs changed the company’s focus? If you were handed another team’s OKRs, what remains a priority? What would have to be true in order to complete those OKRs in the next cycle? Even if your team’s OKRs remain the same, your capacity has changed. Is it still reasonable to accomplish it within the new organizational structure? If not, your OKRs may need one more go before you commit. All of which is to say, a new team doesn’t automatically inherit old OKRs.

Roles and responsibilities shift after a shakeup. Your team will benefit from gaining clarity on their roles before crafting or accepting OKRs for the cycle ahead. Be patient. You may need to take a cycle where one goal is to establish your new operating baseline. Are there new capabilities that team members must excel at? Is there a benchmark they need to achieve before attempting goals that were set before the restructuring? You may need new Champions and Shepherds too, so make sure to allow for additional training and provide support where needed.

With so much to adjust to, you may need to limit the number of OKRs your team sets (think 1 or 2 rather than 2-3) for at least one cycle. Rather than taking on both old and new OKRs, this is a time when less is more. Use OKRs to define a rallying cry and determine clear measures of success on the single most important thing. It will help your team adapt to the new working conditions.

Finally, remember to give everyone, including yourself, grace as you adjust. Regular CFRs (Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition) are especially important now. Each team member needs ample opportunity to express concerns in a safe and judgment-free environment. Emotions can run high in these situations, so make sure team members know they’re being listened to and that their feedback is appreciated and valued.

Thanks for writing in, Becky, and best of luck to you and your team on your OKR journey.


Billy from the What Matters Team