The OKR management system was originally developed by former Intel CEO Andy Grove in the 1970s, but it became really well-known after it was adopted by Google. Many insiders, including Google co-founder Larry Page, credit the OKR framework with having helped Google grow to the size it is today. Since then, the method has been implemented by many Silicon Valley giants including LinkedIn, Twitter, Dropbox, Spotify, and Uber.
OKRs help companies to plan and evaluate organizational performance. You do this by setting clearly defined goals (objectives) and using measures to track whether these goals have been achieved (results). If you already know the OKR method, you can get started with Sheetgo’s OKR template straight away.
The OKR method is designed to help teams:
- Align targets across the entire organization
- Set goals at the individual, team, and company level
- Reach ambitious milestones quickly
- Encourage innovation
What’s the difference between KPIs and OKRs?
Are they the same thing? Not exactly. KPI – or key performance indicator – is another type of performance measurement, but KPIs are more focused on reporting results. These results are used to evaluate the success of a business or an individual project. In contrast, OKRs are goal-oriented. OKRs are also more specific and narrow, with results that can be measured in a numerical format.
Whereas KPIs tend to remain the same over long stretches of time, OKRs are focused on short-term goals. The progress of OKRs is tracked over a defined time period: usually a business quarter.
It can be a little confusing. The OKR method helps you to focus on the most important tasks right now. Therefore some of your KPIs (the most urgent ones) may be included in your OKRs!
How to track OKRs
With a focus on achieving concrete goals in short timeframes, the OKR framework has become popular among tech companies operating in a fast-paced environment. It’s ideal for startups and other teams who want to grow fast.
Having said that, it’s an effective and simple system that can be implemented anywhere, by anyone. Maybe you just want to organize your daily life as effectively as Google?
No matter what kind of plan, project, or business you have, OKRs simply help you to get stuff done. But how can you measure and track OKRs?
There are various performance management tools out there, but there is actually no need to invest in any new software. You can create an effective OKR tracking system using an OKR template in Google Sheets.
Why use Google Sheets to manage OKRs?
- Flexible: Online spreadsheets can be used for anything, and that includes OKR and performance management. Thanks to their versatility, you can adapt the sheets whenever you need to make changes. No coding or IT support required.
- Accessible: cloud-based spreadsheets allow you to monitor your team’s targets and progress from your laptop or mobile at any time, in any place. Plus you’ll save money on unnecessary software by keeping everything in trusty spreadsheets.
- Compatible with everything: All other software packages integrate with Google Sheets. As a consequence, you can quickly import data from other areas of the business, such as HR or finance, centralizing everything in spreadsheets.
- Easy to use: It’s likely that most of your team can already use spreadsheets, so it’s easy to introduce a sheet-based OKR system without training. On top of that, the system is future-proof and simple to maintain.
Looking for a basic template instead?
Do you want to track the OKRs for a small team? If you’re looking for a simple spreadsheet template to track goals and results, try our one-file template. This template is also based in Google Sheets but it doesn’t contain multiple files or Sheetgo connections; just a simple way to manage OKRs.
How to get started
Sheetgo’s OKR template in Google Sheets is a template for an entire workflow. It’s a pre-built system for automated OKR tracking that can be used by any team, in any company. The template gives each department a simple way to log and monitor their progress, as individuals and teams. At the same time, managers get an overview of how the entire company is performing.
Each department gets their own private dashboard:
What’s a spreadsheet-based workflow template?
A regular spreadsheet template is a single file containing tables, charts, layouts, and formulas — but a Sheetgo workflow template is an entire system. It’s a group of connected Google Sheets that send data back and forth between them.
This means you can share data with others without having to share your spreadsheet. Every individual or department gets to work autonomously in their own file.
A spreadsheet-based workflow template gives you:
- Organization and data privacy: Each file is dedicated to one task, which keeps data flows secure and separated.
- Scalability: Google Sheets’ sharing function is powerful but multiple people working in the same spreadsheet can make the file heavy and slow. Separating data in individual spreadsheets keeps the system working smoothly. To expand the template for more departments, you can simply duplicate one of the spreadsheets and share it with additional teams.
- Integration: In addition to being able to import data from different software, a spreadsheet-based workflow allows managers to merge data from departments. In a few clicks, you can connect your purchase order workflow with your budget workflow (or those from other departments) to generate top-level reports.
What you get with this template:
When you install the Sheetgo Company OKR template in Google Sheets, seven Google Sheets files with ready-made Sheetgo connections are saved to your Google Drive:
- Six Department spreadsheets in a folder. Rename and share these files with each team and make as many copies as you need for additional departments. The team uses their file to set their objectives and key results and to update their progress individually.
- One Company OKRs master sheet for the manager(s). Data flows into this file from the Department spreadsheets, providing an overview of all Team Objectives and Key Results in tables and dashboard charts.
How to get the workflow template
Click on the blue button below to install the Sheetgo Company OKR template in Google Sheets.
Company OKRs template
Google Sheets workflow template to track individuals' OKRs and progress per department.
- Login to Sheetgo with your Google, Microsoft, or Dropbox account.
- Click Install template.
- Wait a few moments while Sheetgo creates copies of the files and connects them.
The OKR template in Google Sheets opens inside Sheetgo.
In the workflow diagram on the right side of your screen, you will see arrows running from the folder of Department spreadsheets into the master sheet. These are the Sheetgo connections that transport data from file to file.
How to use the OKR template
Step 1: Share the department sheets
Open the Department files by clicking on Workflow in the side panel and double click on the folder icon. Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the files so you can see how the template works.
You will notice that these Department files contain sample data.
Rename each file for the teams in your company and delete the sample data or instruct each team leader to overwrite this information when they start using the template.
Share the file with team leaders, if they will be the ones responsible for updating the progress of each of their team members.
Alternatively, if you want to grant everyone in the team edit access, you can share the spreadsheet with everyone in the department.
Step 2: Teams set their OKRs
Firstly, each department should agree their objectives as a team and enter them into the Team Objectives tab.
Each objective should have a title that clearly distinguishes it from the others. This will help you allocate key results to the correct objective.
If you need guidance or inspiration for how to set OKRs, check out our tips below.
Tips for setting OKRs
Your company doesn’t have to be a Silicon Valley giant to implement the simple and effective OKR method. No matter the size of your organization, OKRs can help align goals, motivate your team, and keep everyone on the same page. We’ve created a free OKR template for you to use in Google Sheets. But before you start working on the spreadsheet, let’s look at how you define objectives and goals.
Are objectives the same as goals? No – think of a goal as a destination, and objectives as the roadmap you need to achieve your goal. Objectives are the building blocks towards achieving goals.
Make your objectives SMART:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Achievable
R – Realistic
T – Time-bound
By choosing SMART objectives and sharing them with your team or organization, you avoid any potential confusion. You should thoroughly account for all of the top-level goals of the organization, and each objective should be assigned to a responsible person or team. On top of that, it is best to have as much detail as possible when dictating tasks so that nothing is missed, shelved, or put on the wrong employee.
As a best practice, we recommend taking a top-down approach when setting objectives. Firstly, you should set company-wide goals, then divide responsibilities by department, followed by individuals.
Remember that collaboration is key, and you may find that it is best to make people from different departments work on the same objective. When assigning objectives to employees it is important to get their buy-in. Therefore we don’t recommend that you dictate tasks and outcomes to your employees.
Instead, have each member of your team adopt an achievable piece of the project through consensus. Having everyone on board during the objective setting process will foster a sense of ownership for individual work, along with a sense of cohesion and community towards the end goal.
OKRs are designed for employee management rather than employee evaluation, so they are not normally used to determine compensation or promotions, although they can be one factor in performance reviews.
Experts recommend limiting the number of objectives to between three and five – OKRs are designed to help you focus on priorities. It’s not about tracking every single task you do.
Step 3: Teams set their Key Results
In the Key Results tab, choose an Objective from the dropdown menu and enter how you will achieve that goal in Column B: Key Result. Remember that key results must be measurable. Get more advice in the Key Results tips below.
Type the name of the colleague responsible in Column C: Owner.
Enter a Metric (how you will measure this result) in Column D.
Finally, enter a Start Value and Target in Columns E and F.
Tips for setting Key Results
Key results are the specific goals that you must reach with each objective. For every objective, you should have three to five key results. You must be able to measure these results in a numerical way – e.g. 50%, 17 items, $40, 1000 new customers.
As an example, let’s say your objective is “to improve response time to customer queries”. The key result might be “to decrease the average response time from 24 hours to 12 hours”. Key results should be aspirational yet achievable. In other words, they should be sufficiently aggressive to motivate the team and push the individual to achieve them, but not so difficult that they can never be reached. The person assigned the key result is called the owner.
To sum up, key results are:
- Measurable (numerically)
- Limited to 3-5 per objective
- Challenging but achievable
- Specific outcomes (not a list of tasks)
- Assigned to “owners” (individual team members)
Step 4: Teams start logging OKRs
When your colleagues (either department managers or individual team members) start entering their progress towards their OKRs they should fill out Column G: Current Value in the Key Results tab.
Once the template is set up and in use, it’s time to pull the departmental OKR data into the master sheet.
The template contains pre-built Sheetgo connections so all you need to do is update these connections. Do this manually by opening the Sheetgo workflow and click Run.
You will see that data flows directly from all the different department spreadsheets into your master sheet and dashboard.
Check how all employees are progressing in the Key Results tab.
Step 5: Automate the workflow
In a busy company with multiple departments, the spreadsheets will probably be updated pretty regularly.
To ensure you’ve always got the latest OKR data from every department in your master sheet, you can automate the workflow.
Open the workflow and click Automate on the menu bar.
Build a complete performance management system in Google Sheets
Want to add more Department spreadsheets to the template? No problem, it’s really simple.
- Make a copy of one of the Department spreadsheets inside the same Google Drive folder.
- Rename the file and share it with the appropriate colleague(s).
- Enter the OKRs for that department.
- Update the workflow by clicking Run.
The new spreadsheet is now connected and data from this file is imported into the master sheet, along with the data from the other departments.
If you want to create a more advanced system, you can customize the template further, incorporating HR data or information from other departments.
If you’d like us to build a tailor-made system for you, or you need assistance customizing the template, talk to our support team.
Share with your manager
If you’re not personally responsible for OKR management but you think this system could be useful in your company, share this article with your manager so they can set up the workflow.