Objective and Key Results

OKR Definition, Glossary & Tips

22 May, 2019

OKR Definition, Glossary & Tips

This article is part of a series where we have been discussing in length OKRs (objectives and key results), a goal system used by Google. So far in this series, we have discussed:


  1. The history of OKRs
  2. 8 reasons why you should adopt OKRs
  3. How to define your objectives in OKRs
  4. How to define your key results in OKRs
  5. How to Define Initiatives in OKRs
  6. How to Grade OKRs without Patting Yourself on the Back
  7. Examples of OKRs
  8. 10 Tips for Making an OKR Template
  9. Introduction to HeartPace OKR Software


In this last article of the series, we’re going to give you the OKR definition. We’ll also give you important OKR tips as well as a glossary of terms to recognize.

Continue reading to learn more information about OKR terms and tips for maximum success.

OKRs Definition

Although we’ve gone over OKRs, let’s do a little refresher on what they are. OKR is a planning and goal setting technique. OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. Objectives are general and serve as the ultimate goals for an organization/team/individual and the key results are how you measure success in attaining those objectives.

OKRs are used to create better alignment within organizations and higher engagement around measurable goals. OKRs are typically decided at the top level of an organization, and then cascade down to teams and single employees. Each group or team member is meant to make their own OKRs that work toward achieving company-wide objectives.

OKRs Tips

Now that you’ve gotten a quick review on OKRs, here are some helpful tips for organizing and achieving your OKRs:


Organize OKRs Quarterly

The best way to go about OKRs is to set them on a quarterly basis, or, have overarching annual goals that you break down by quarter. Setting goals on a quarterly basis give members of the company time to feel they’ve made progress, but not so much time that they get tired or bored.

Have a Set Rule for the Number of OKRs

While each level will have its own unique set of OKRs, and those OKRs will vary from department to department, and employee to employee, try not to have more than 5 objectives with 4 key results each for each set of OKRs.

Don’t Use OKRs for Employee Performance

OKRs were not conceived as a method of evaluating performance. Because OKRs are meant for setting ambitious targets, they are more of a way to propel individual employees, teams and the organization as a whole forward. Evaluating employees based on OKRs can hinder their freedom and desire to take big risks.

Break Down OKRs into Smaller Tasks

Because OKRs by their very nature are ambitious, it helps to try and break down OKRs into more attainable, measurable segments. Have your teams set up monthly and weekly goals so you can better track progress and so that teams feel they are successfully working toward achieving those objectives.

Give Some Flexibility

In any company, unexpected things happen, A new competitor can arise, a website can get hacked, a huge change can happen in your industry, or other incidents could occur. As they say, you should always expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to OKRs. There may be a time when the organization has to completely switch gears in terms of goals, so allow your organization the flexibility to do that when necessary.

Don’t Sweat the Stretch Goals

This is part of the reason why OKRs shouldn’t be used for employee evaluation. Stretch goals are part of the OKRs process not necessarily because they are achievable, but because they push stakeholders of an organization to go further than they perhaps would have without the stretch goals. In fact, if your teams regularly meet their stretch goals then this actually indicates that you might not be setting up your OKRs correctly, or that the road to achieving them was not properly laid out.

Take Time to Celebrate and Reflect

When OKRs are wrapped up, it can be easy to box up the achievement (or lack thereof) and put it away. However, you should schedule wrap-up meetings with your team to assess what went wrong and what went right, which will help you get better at achieving OKRs in the future. Doing this will also help your team take the time to absorb the positive feelings that come with achievement—increasing their engagement.


Those were our biggest OKR tips. Do you have experience with OKRs and want to share your own tips for success? We’d love to hear about them! Leave your input in the comments below to share.


OKRs Glossary

Business Objectives

The overarching goals of the organizations as a whole that apply across departments, teams, and employees.

Cascading Objectives

The process of communicating and assigning goals from the top-down in an organization.

Employee Engagement

The level of activeness and enthusiasm employees feel with the organization in relation to achieving their OKRs.

Goal Setting Software

A technology system that lets stakeholders set, track and get up-to-date data on their OKRs progress. You can read more about this with the HeartPace OKR software here.


The ‘O’ in OKR, objectives, these are the ‘what’ of things your organization wants to accomplish. The objective is what will be the determining factor in how you set up key results.

Key Results

Specific measures and steps to taken achieve objectives. These are the ‘KR’ part of OKR. Think of it as the ‘how’ of what needs to be accomplished.


Performance Goals

This is how employees and managers track their contributions to the company.


Performance Review

Also known as a performance appraisal, this describes the method by which an employee is evaluated on their job performance.


Stretch Goals

This is a deliberately challenging or ambitious aim or objective.

Read more about our OKR software here, and contact us today for a demo so you and your team can get started with setting OKRs that set you up for success.


We sincerely hope our OKR tips have given you all of the information you need to start implementing more efficient processes into your organization today!

Henrik Dannert

Henrik Dannert


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