Leverage OKR: How Today’s CEOs Connect With Their Employees

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Leverage OKR: How Today's CEOs Connect With Their Employees

The physically disparate work environment created by the global pandemic has made it more of a challenge than ever for CEOs to connect with their workers on an individual level.  No longer is it possible to stroll through rows of cubicles, put on a friendly face, and get to know your people.

Today’s CEO must lead by example, communicate with their employees, and set a pattern for them to follow.   Doing so can leave a profound impact on the productivity of the company. Employees feel engaged, contribute to better planning and production, and ensure the organization’s Objectives are accomplished.

CEOs Engage Employees Around Top-Level Strategic Initiatives

The best way to keep your employees engaged is to value their contributions. Make them feel that their opinion matters. This will encourage them to bring bright and innovative ideas to the table, but they will also work hard to meet the strategic goals.

Leadership OKR Training

At the beginning of the Strategic Planning phase of the OKR cycle, executive leaders socialize and determine top-level objectives for the organization.  Executive leaders should create Objectives that drive the organization, and ultimately employees, towards inspiration.  Objectives often center around themes like growth, innovation, people, customers, excellence, and optimization.

OKR Team Planning

The successful execution of OKRs requires you to conduct brainstorming and planning sessions to set contributing departmental and team OKRs. This is an excellent opportunity to connect with your frontline employees. Ask for their views, indulge in discussions, and value their opinions.

OKR Team Share

After departmental and team OKR planning, individuals break off to determine what they need to accomplish this quarter to help the organization reach its Objectives.  After doing so, the organization should come back together in a session where all members publicly share and commit to results for the quarter.

OKR Team Share

Before you go ahead and converse with your team regarding OKR progress, here are a few questions you should ask yourself:

        Is your team’s progress in line with the set OKR?

        Are you happy with how things are going so far?

        What are the key areas that need improvements? What areas are high-performers?

These questions will provide you with a basic overview of how things have been going and help you communicate with your employees accordingly.

Objectives cascaded from the top bring clarity to the individual employee’s purpose

While communicating the set OKRs organization-wide is essential, it is more effective to have cascaded Objectives so each employee knows for which responsibilities they are accountable.

Cascaded OKRs are quite simple. They follow a general process: a high-level OKR flows downwards from executives to department heads to team managers. Department managers then write their own OKRs, based on the end goals. Members of each department then write their individual OKRs based on the goals set by their supervisors. This way, each employee has their particular goal to achieve and take care of.

Focus & Inspire

OKRs are the intersection of focus and inspiration. 

The proper combination of inspiration and focus can fuel a workforce and point it in the right direction. OKRs allow leaders and teams to focus on making challenging but necessary choices. OKRs put a spotlight on the top priority for each leader, department, team, or person in a quarter rather than relying on the typical and ineffective laundry list of initiatives or tasks to accomplish. Well-written OKRs at the top level and department level magnify the big picture (O) and what needs to happen summarily to measure success in terms of progress toward achieving that (KRs).

Align & Hold Accountable

Objectives’ cascading nature helps everyone get involved and have a better understanding of quarterly, top-level Objectives – leading to great alignment. When each level creates OKRs that align to a level above, organizations can achieve harmony on how OKRs contribute to their bottom line and strategic priorities. This additional level of participation and understanding drives greater “buy-in” from the balance of the company. The OKR framework calls for an increase in tracking progress on the Objectives, keeping employees at all levels staying focused accountable to their commitments.

OKR Creates Greater Individual Commitment

OKRs foster commitment and become social contracts for your organization. At the end of the strategic planning phase of the OKR cycle, leaders must commit to each other on what Objectives and Key Results each of them will be working towards for the quarter. It builds stronger commitments because it is done in a public forum of peers and higher-level leaders, bringing transparency throughout the quarter and greater peer accountability.

OKR Accelerates Individual Performance

Discussing OKR in weekly one-on-ones’ can have a performance acceleration effect if leveraged correctly. The key is to use the information and spend time discussing how to stay focused, increase the velocity of progress, review previous tactics, and develop news to progress the KRs. In “Measure What Matters”, Doerr refers to this effect as CFRs: conversations, feedback, and recognition. Leveraging the OKR framework allows a leader/manager to increase the frequency of the three aforementioned items and deepen the quality of interaction, thoughtful feedback, and timeliness of recognition.

Involving more people allows employees to provide feedback into the strategic planning process.

The Strategic Planning phase of the OKR Cycle is designed to crowd-source organizational strategy. Doing so gets employees involved and dedicated to the success of the organization while boosting culture and communication.

One of the best ways to recognize a team’s efforts is by using an OKR tool. It can inspire other members of the team to accomplish their goals and get similar recognition.

Individuals, Teams, and Departments Contribute Objectives Up

Cascading Objectives provide frontline employees with a direct link to their organization’s overarching strategy.   Providing visibility into an individual’s impact creates a massive motivating factor and leads to better business outcomes.

A Cascading OKR

Consider that a CEO has set up an OKR about surprising and delighting customers by providing industry-leading services. This OKR will translate to delivering an enhanced customer service experience at the call center as a customer service manager. At a ground level, for workers, this would mean delivering excellence to customers daily.

From the lowest rung to the topmost level, the entire organization works in harmony to achieve the organization’s top-level Objectives. This helps in two ways: (1) It ensures the CEO that the goals they have developed will be achieved and (2) it makes each employee accountable to their OKRs, simplifying the way progress is tracked.


If you are a CEO who needs to communicate better with their employees, OKR offers a great approach to accomplish just this. OKR keeps all  employees in the company on the same page and ensures that the organization meets its strategic objectives.

If you need more assistance on how you can use OKRs to your advantage, contact us today.

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