Whether you’re just starting out on your OKR journey or a seasoned pro, it never hurts to review the basics. Here, we answer several frequently asked questions about OKRs, including the difference between committed and aspirational OKRs, grading, CFRs, and much more.

Common Questions about OKRs (Objectives & Key Results)

OKRs are a goal-setting tool for communicating what you want to accomplish and how to measure progress. Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about OKRs. Each one is accompanied by an in depth resource.

1. What is an OKR? What are OKRs?

OKRs are Objectives and Key Results. They are a goal-setting tool used by teams and individuals to set challenging, ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are used to track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around the goals that matter most.

2. How do you grade or score OKRS?

At the end of each cycle, grade or score an OKR by determining if the KR was met. You might use a number score, or a “traffic light system”: failed to make progress (red), made progress but fell short of completion (yellow), or delivered (green).

3. What are some examples of cascading top-down, or company-level OKRs?

The process by which top-level company OKRs flow downwards to department heads, managers, and individual employees who take ownership of specific Key Results from those above them in the organization. Cascading goals from the top-down will help align the various teams and individual employees across your company toward the same overall goals.

4. What’s the difference between committed and aspirational OKRs?

Committed OKRs must be achievable by a cycle’s end. Resources and schedules should be adjusted to make sure they get done. Unlike committed OKRs, aspirational OKRs are achievable goals that set the bar further than a team’s ability to execute in a given quarter. They are carried forward until they are achieved.

5. Can I use OKRs for personal or life goals?

Yes, you can! OKRs aren’t just for setting work goals. In fact, they’ve been used to help people build stronger bonds with their family, prepare for a marathon, and much more. Personal OKRs aren’t a “bucket list,” they are a means to think through how you will accomplish unambiguous life goals.

6. What are the benefits of OKRs?

The Objective and Key Results (OKR) model is a powerful way to express the goals of any company or organization. It can help achieve mission and vision, aid in employee engagement, and bring to the surface the top priorities of a company. Five key benefits include focus, alignment, commitment, tracking, and stretching — also know as the F.A.C.T.S.

7. Are there examples of OKRs for executive assistants or office operations?

A well-functioning office is not just nice to have — it’s essential. It helps to answer these questions when writing administrative and operational OKRs: Are there processes that could be made simpler? Can turn-around times be shorter? Are there new things that improve the services that administrative employees provide?

8. Why do I need OKRs? How will I benefit?

Whether you are looking to improve your individual goals, your company goals, or are suggesting a new management tool to leadership, the OKR process helps turn good ideas into great execution. OKRs boost employee engagement and drive high-performing teams. Companies like Allbirds, Google, Netflix, and Pinterest have successfully adopted OKRs.

9. How do I find my company’s purpose?

Finding your company’s “why” will guide your most important work. To find your “why,” make time for honest reflection — write down your values and look for patterns in past successes and failures. A good “why” is specific to an organization and helps teams connect day-to-day work with their company’s purpose.

10. Why should you always have conversations, feedback and recognition for OKR performance?

In Measure What Matters, John Doerr introduces the sibling to OKRs — called CFRs — short for: Conversations, Feedback, and Recognition. It’s important to also have CFRs when reflecting on OKRs to provide color and context and share vital learnings with the team. When combined, OKRs and CFRs become Continuous Performance Management.

Looking for more guidance in your journey to understand and use OKRs? Try our free introductory OKRs 101 course or sign up for our Audacious newsletter.