build Tool: Grade OKRs

At Google, OKRs are usually graded on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0, 1.0 meaning the objective was fully achieved. Each individual key result is graded and then, using a rough average, correspondingly the objective is graded. This is described as “rough” because sometimes there’s some weighting of different key results. Sometimes key results are either 0 or 1 - if the key result was to “Launch a new widget marketing campaign” the end result could be that either it was launched or it wasn’t. Some are more granular - if the key result is to “Launch six new features” and only three new features were launched the OKR could be graded with a 0.5. This isn’t a science but it’s important to be honest and, more than anything, consistent with the grading process.

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Things to consider when grading OKRs:

  • The sweet spot for OKRs is somewhere in the 60-70% range. Scoring lower may mean the organization is not achieving enough of what it could be. Scoring higher may mean the aspirational goals are not being set high enough. With Google’s 0.0 – 1.0 scale, the expectation is to get an average of 0.6 to 0.7 across all OKRs. For organizations who are new to OKRs, this tolerance for “failure” to hit the uncomfortable goals is itself uncomfortable.
  • OKRs are not synonymous with performance evaluation. This means OKRs are not a comprehensive means to evaluate an individual (or an organization). Rather, they can be used as a summary of what an individual has worked on in the last period of time and can show contributions and impact to the larger organizational OKRs.
  • Publicly grade organizational OKRs. At Google, organizational OKRs are typically shared and graded annually and quarterly. At the start of the year, there is a company-wide meeting where the grades for the prior OKRs are shared and the new OKRs are shared both for the year and for the upcoming quarter. Then the company meets quarterly to review grades and set new OKRs. At these company meetings, the owner for each OKR (usually the leader from the relevant team) explains the grade and any adjustments for the upcoming quarter.
  • Check in throughout the quarter. Prior to assigning a final grade, it can be helpful to have a mid-quarter check-in for all levels of OKRs to give both individuals and teams a sense of where they are. An end of quarter check-in can be used to prepare ahead of the final grading.

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) Scorecard

Use and adapt this document to record and score Objectives and Key Results (OKRs)

OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) Spreadsheet

Use and adapt this spreadsheet to score Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and calculate overall grades.

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