OKRs for the Young Professional

OKRs for the Young Professional

by Kandice Head


Published on 01.20.2020

As a young professional, you have a lot on your plate; your career development, learning more about your industry or field, building strong work relationships, contributing to your team and company’s goals, and excelling at your role.

“We must realize—and act on the realization—that if we try to focus on everything, we focus on nothing,” says "Measure What Matters" author John Doerr.

With so many areas for growth, it can be a challenge to prioritize which goals matter most, and even more of a challenge to regularly track them. Luckily, objectives and key results (OKRs) are designed for ambitious goals and big ideas and they’re universal as well. From the CEO to the busy young professional climbing their way up the ladder, OKRs are light-weight and flexible enough to outline your priorities, hold yourself accountable, and be a proactive resource to your team.

OKRs work for everyone. Not only do they aide in turning ideas into action steps, but you can also use OKRs to guide your process in asking for feedback as well as in performance reviews with your manager. Setting OKRs can also help you proactively pinpoint where you can contribute to your team’s or company’s goals and provide an action-oriented blueprint for your personal life.

Here's how to get started:

Step 1: Find your why. Your “why” is your compass - it’s your own mission rooted in the person and professional you want to become. What do you want your life to look like in 5 years? 10 years? What skills, tools, and experience do you need to meet that vision? Evaluating your why helps focus and channel energy and efforts on what matters most to you.

Step 2: Write your OKRs. The OKR formula is straightforward. Objectives are aspirational statements of your goals, while your key results are measurable milestones that track your progress towards that particular goal. We recommend no more than 3-5 objectives with 4-5 key results because less is more. Here’s an example:

O: Learn new skills and practices beyond the job description

KR1: Complete Lynda.com web development training courses to earn two additional certifications before the end of the 1st quarter

KR2: Attend networking events to gain three new mentors in my field this month

KR3: Lead one project this quarter

Step 3: Track and review. There are many free online tools that can help you keep track of your movement towards each of your objectives. Whether it’s weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, decide on a time to check in on your progress. Evaluate what can be adjusted, added, or eliminated based on shifting priorities.

Use OKRs to win

OKRs are not just for Silicon Valley executives or business leaders. You can use the objective and key result framework to design your personal game plan and stand out at your company, meet your personal milestones, and challenge yourself.

If you decided to use OKRs to help streamline your professional or personal goals, let us know how it goes by emailing us here. You can also learn more about OKRs by reading "Measure What Matters" or exploring more FAQs, Resources, and Stories, right here at WhatMatters.com.

Kandice Head (@KandyLanae) is a communications specialist and storyteller who writes for WhatMatters.com.


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Get exclusive guidance from John, Ryan, and the What Matters team by signing up for our weekly newsletter, Audacious. You’ll learn week-by-week how to sharpen your OKRs and stay on track to reach your goals.

Get exclusive guidance from John, Ryan, and the What Matters team by signing up for our weekly newsletter, Audacious. You’ll learn week-by-week how to sharpen your OKRs and stay on track to reach your goals.