Goal-setting is one of the hardest parts of the job. Understanding the metrics, resources, and aligning it with your company's vision. Once you dive in this fierce market of entrepreneurship, there is no turning back.
But at startups, without metrics and resources to start with, the goal-setting process becomes very challenging. Being a founder or a leader, it's your job to make sure you set realistic goals. The first few years are all about bootstrapping your revenue churn with the limited set of resources.
Started with a team of 60, Google shifted the outlook of growth with a precise acronym called OKR. It is not just another corporate acronym which carries the stigma of mandatory work. OKR or Objective and Key Results is a goal-setting framework which increases productivity, collaboration, and transparency at work using the philosophy stretch goals.
Ambitious goals act as a growth fuel for any startup. With the looming fear of failure, a lot of startups find an escape from setting stretch goals.
But how to integrate these high-functionality goals at your budding startup?
Let's understand what exactly do we mean by ambitious goals.
What are stretch goals?
Stretch Goals are an ambitious extension to your standard goals. They gained momentum in the rapidly growing world because of OKR's successful implementation at Fortune 500 companies like Google, Amazon, and other Silicon Valley giants.
To integrate stretch goals at your organization, you need to step out of your comfort zone. Being a startup, first, you shall decide what would be your company's objectives. Later, align these objectives with your goals.
There are two types of stretch goals: Roofshots and Moonshots.
Roofshots are the short-term goals, a method of setting goals in startups. They are highly impactful and challenging, and because of short tenure, their outcome is visible. While enhancing the productivity and efficiency of teams at startup, roofshots can skyrocket growth if used precisely.
Moonshots, on the other hand, are long-term stretch goals. They are considered as the annual impossible goals. Moonshots show impact in long-term and hence seem quite impossible in the start. However, in the end, they strike the value for hustle.
If you are just starting up, you must focus on roofshots and incorporate a moonshot goal in your OKR. This will help you keep a balance between the current and future expectations. To multiply, you just can't pick any number and impulsively work towards it. You need to focus on growing consistently with long-term success.
Stretching goals involves taking a step ahead from what you think are your boundaries. You must understand the difference between challenging and unrealistic goals. Usually, people are highly motivated when they work in a startup, and you don't want to hit their morale by setting up impossible goals.
Startups require a lot of trial and error, make sure your goals are also a part of it. Don't stick to the same goals just because it worked for someone else, keep tweaking them according to what works best for you.
How to onboard stretch goals
On-boarding OKR strategy and stretch goals at a startup is quite simple. Follow these tips to incorporate ambitious goal-setting in your culture.
Yes, you are a startup, and you've planned what do you want in the long-term, where do you see your brand in the next 5 years. But, have you linked your current goals towards it. Objective and Key-Results is a methodology which will make it clear what to focus on in a specific quarter, while keeping in mind the bigger picture.
Sometimes, while thinking of long term success, we forget to take baby steps towards it. Here is why you need to incorporate roof shots to define what you will achieve in the next quarter to attain that long term goal.
You must align your goals since the start. Provide insight to employees how will their current goals be accountable for the company's growth in the future.
The goal-setting should be bi-directional at the early stage. This will not only enhance your organization's communication and engagement but will ensure the teams are on the same page of innovation.
Top-down goals are usually controlling and create disengagement, employees finish it just for the sake of completion and not for outcomes. To instill a sense of accountability, OKR advocates setting up goals in a bottom-up framework. Yet again, at a startup, everyone has a different set of things to achieve, and that might not suffice the resources and time. Furthermore, you don't want executives to define your top-priority.
So, you must follow the bi-directional method to process alignment and better outcomes.
When monetary rewards are involved, employees find it hard to take up challenges. It is a golden OKR rule to keep compensation away from the outcomes. It should not be considered as an evaluation tool, instead integrate it as a high-performance training tool.
If you put compensations with achievements, employees would not set their goals high enough. Setting up achievable goals would not make a difference you seek with OKR. You should keep OKRs free from any rewards at your startup. Moreover, linking incentives can lead to fierce competition rather than collaboration.
Pro-tip: Emphasis a little on budget constraints and future growth whenever this discussion pop-ups.
Qualitative and Quantitative OKRs
When you work with a startup, you know the hustle is hard there. Consequently, when you introduce stretch goals at a startup, it should give grounds for Qualitative Objective and Quantitative Key Results.
The initial stage of your growth, if the team isn't focused and metric-driven, this will lead to stability in the organizational curve. However, If your key results are attached to a metric, then your team is accountable to give it a try.
Being a startup, if you don't have data to support your goals, then just stick OKR on the wall and start from scratch again. Later, retrospect on where did you go wrong and hustle back. Repeat this cycle to achieve your moonshots.
Incorporating stretch goals to your startup, you require a strong team that will take challenges alongside you. But while stretching targets, you should remember that it should make them uncomfortable and not break them.
Set aside time regularly to enhance your goals. Remember it's a trial and error process, don't just jump to conclusions. Take the necessary time to understand the workings of your team and what holds them back. Improvise on the weak areas.
At a startup, you are allowed to make mistakes. Setting and monitoring goals is essential, on the other hand providing proper guidance and support is also important.
Rest assured, stretch goals and right implementation of OKR will definitely help your startup break a leg. What is your OKR- startup story, let us know in the comments below.