OKR Coaching tips with huge impact

OKR coaching tips with huge impact

Tim frowned as he raised his head to look me straight in the eyes –

‘I have heard how great OKRs are but have never seen the successful implementation of them. I think it is simply just another goal-setting fad that will fade away over time. What is the real difference between OKRs and other goal-setting methods anyway? To me it seems the same, it is just nicely worded KPIs ‘

Fortunately, I have had the privilege to hear such comments before and therefore was well prepared to face Tim’s concerns:

That is an interesting viewpoint and you are not alone in saying that Tim, please tell me more about KPIs and OKRs being similar. By positively and sincerely questioning his statements I was able to both build rapport with Tim and gather all the information I needed to best influence him.

Our intent and aim as OKR coaches is not to try to directly change someone’s mind forcefully, instead we aim to influence others, learn from their experiences, and arrive at co-created solutions.

What follows are a few powerful OKR coaching tips that may lead to a huge impact on individuals, teams, and your organization.

Coach, do not Critisize

The most effective way to ensure that you are a believable coach is to be an example:

Be seen collaborating with others and executing shoulder-to-shoulder with team members. Continuously improve your skills and learning. An excellent approach to coaching others is to co-create solutions with them as opposed to telling them what to do.

We can jointly arrive at answers if we, as coaches prepare for each session with excellent questions:

Do you think there are learnings that you have gained from your experience with KPIs that you can apply to OKRs? What key challenges did you face concerning the achievement of KPIs? What do you think you already did very well? According to your experience, what can be improved? What habits related to performance do we need to stop with as they do not serve us?

A Coaching Summary

Another OKR coaching tip is to summarize the whole conversation at the end. This summary empowers all parties to the conversation to clear up any misunderstandings and to deepen their resolve to take immediate action.

Instead of attempting to have the person that we are coaching simply agree to everything we say as we are trying to establish authority, we can do better by jointly agreeing to create a collective summary of the coaching session.

After building rapport with our client and asking relevant positive questions we can summarize what was said toward the end of the coaching session. This provides the person that we are coaching with an opportunity to correct the summary and to add to it wherever relevant.

This summary then serves as a reference point for further action and decision-making on the way forward. Within the spirit of Agile leadership, we collectively make those decisions. An agreement to a summary that was made and revised is generally way more powerful than simple ‘yes answers’ to questions.

Coaching toward the Vision of the company

A coach should always appreciate the potential impact they can have on actualizing the vision of a company. When we, as coaches, are consistently helping others to build powerful habits that help to gain forward moments toward achieving company objectives, we are supporting the actualization of strategies and the vision of the company.

When we, during drafting workshops facilitate the process of drafting both powerful (outcome-focused) okrs and ensure alignment to the vision and strategies of the company we are directly contributing to the the success of the company as we start with execution. By discussing the Vision, purpose, mission, and value system with those that we coach and making it very transparent we are adding inspiration to our coaching process.

People, generally speaking, are inspired by gaining clarity on what the vision and purpose statement of the company entails. A high level of clarity ensures that team members understand what impact their individual roles and collective team efforts have on the Vision and strategies of the company. This way, team members can feel that they are contributing to the success of the company in a very direct way.

Coaching is not about telling others what to do, instead, it is about providing others with guidance in terms of the potential options that they have and helping them gain new perspectives. Ideally, coaching is a journey of empowerment, discovering new practical learning journeys that serve the individual, the team, and the company.

When we collectively move toward something ‘larger than ourselves’ such as a company Vision and purpose which benefits a large number of stakeholders we are not only being empowered but being inspired as well. coaching plays a central role in achieving objectives, strategies, and the Vision of the company.


Communication and high-quality Coaching are the threads that hold high-quality OKR performances together. The above OKR Coaching tips may seem simple but they are highly powerful as we have discovered in gaining experience in coaching over five hundred companies within more than fifty countries.

Drafting powerful and impactful OKRs is a very good start yet does not ensure the sustainable and successful implementation of OKRs. High-quality leadership, coaching, and communication are other key factors to consider.

Talent Development Director of the OKR Institute