In a company-wide implementation of OKR, everyone is expected to have their own individual OKR, unless stated otherwise. The individual OKR represents someone’s priorities and commitment for a certain time period.
Now, the question becomes: how many OKRs does one person need to maintain? The key to answering this question is by looking at where the individual sits in the organization structure.
Individuals that sit at the very top of the organization structure (C-level executives for example) usually have only 1 OKR; which is their own. Their individual OKR contains their responsibilities and can be used to manage down (i.e. managing their direct reports’ expectations).
Similar to above, the individuals at this position (e.g. frontline employees) usually only need to maintain 1 OKR. Their OKR can be used to manage up (i.e. managing their manager’s expectations).
Middle managers have direct reports and at the same time have their own managers. They need to both manage up and down. Therefore, it’s advisable for them to have (at least) 2 OKRs.
- The first OKR is to manage up. This happens when she has an OKR meeting with her manager. In this case, her individual OKR represents her and her team’s responsibilities. In the example below, it's illustrated by the blue triangle.
- The second OKR is to manage down. This happens when she conducts the OKR meeting with her direct reports. Her individual OKR represents her own responsibilities. This is the green triangle in the illustration below.
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