Why high-performing legal teams need Objective, Key Results, (OKRs).


On a recent trip to a Silicon Valley startup client’s office in Palo Alto, California, I had a chance to meet with a high-performing legal team. 

These folks aren’t your average legal professionals; they are technically savvy and innovative, and ready to deploy techniques from the world of business and technology, to elevate their team’s culture and performance. 

Setting Objectives, Key Results, (OKRs) has been practiced in the technology world by tech companies like Google, Intel, Adobe, Netflix, and many more.

Silicon Valley legal teams setting OKRs has become an essential practice that separates high-performing teams from merely good teams. 

We believe that setting OKRs is a way to make your legal team truly world-class.

What are OKRs?

OKRs are objectives and key results—performance measures applied to specific teams or individuals. An objective is a long-term goal or vision. A key result is an incremental milestone that gets you closer to that bigger goal. Together, they form an objective-key result pair—or simply an OKR. OKRs can be set for individual contributors or entire departments.

How do you set OKRs?

Setting your objectives isn’t just a once-in-the-year exercise. Instead, set them weekly, monthly, or quarterly. It really depends on how often you make decisions that impact your team. Are you making most of those decisions within a day? Great – then check in every week. But if you find yourself delegating tasks to members of your team weeks in advance, then once a month is likely sufficient.

How to set OKRs for Focus Alignment 

Objectives are your big-picture goals for a given period of time; key results (KRs) break down these objectives into specific tasks you need to accomplish to reach your objective. 

Choose 3-5 Objectives– 5+ may become too many, and you lack focus. 

Too little you are not thinking broad enough. 

If all your KRs fall under one key result or if they’re too granular, you may have too many KRs.

Aim high with your OKRs

In performance-oriented workplaces, one of your most important jobs as a leader is to set high goals for yourself and your team. This can be intimidating at first—but it’s great leadership to aim high, and to empower your team to reach their highest potential. Use motivating and inspiring language to engage your team. Remember ORKs are rooted in teamwork. Enable goal stretching, reward smart risk-taking and innovation. 

Know when to adjust your OKRs

Once a quarter, your team will come together to look at how OKRs are going and what adjustments need to be made. This is your chance to get creative and have some fun with it.

Why use an OKR over KPI?

A KPI focuses on an outcome or metric. An OKR focuses on an objective. KPIs help your team track progress against set milestones and goals. But if you’re focusing on single metrics like revenue targets or use of services over time, you’re not going to have a good picture of how your legal team is performing overall.

OKRs enhance performance and innovation

You can set Objectives and Key Results to stay on track for your Key Objectives. Once you have a handle on that, move to your next level of objectives—your key results. This is where you break down what it takes to reach each objective into one-quarter or one-month chunks. Finally, KPIs come into play once you lay out all these specific objectives and how they play a role in achieving your big-picture goals.

Should I use an OKR or a KPI?

The difference between an OKR and a KPI is that an OKR is intended to be a holistic measurement of how a team member or business unit is doing; in contrast, KPIs are intended to be more isolated measurements that focus on quantifiable data points. If you want your legal department to become high-performing, however, it’s essential that you measure all components of your business holistically using objectives.

Thinking about using OKRs? 

We are delighted to help you take your first steps to become a high-performing Level7 legal department! 

In this tool you will be able to: 
  • Define objectives 
  • Measure key results 
  • Allocate to team members 
  • Measure business impact 
  • Measure employee confidence 
  • Review quarterly with monthly check-in system
  • Makes sure every team member knows their responsibilities
  • Makes company goals clear
  • Provides consistent guidance
  • Easily identify high performers
  • Lets every team member know what they need to accomplish
  • Prevents conflicts

Want to hear more about how we support your legal team?

Book a complimentary thought partnership session with one of our consultants.