Creating Team Alignment Through Objectives and Key Results

Joe Sapp, president of Talley, explores how employee OKRs can create cohesion, purpose, and align the team on the company objectives.

From the desk of Joe Sapp, President of Talley

Last fall, our team spent time talking about our goals for 2024 and what we accomplished over the past year. Through those discussions, we began formulating those goals into our preferred goal setting structure of Objectives and Key Results. Why OKRs? Aside from it being a key feature of our performance management platform, 15Five, the ability for OKRs to cascade through the company means alignment at all levels. They also give us a better opportunity to adjust throughout the year based on performance.

How OKRs can Empower Employees

The use of OKRs for alignment goes far beyond just our corporate goals. As an employee-owned company, we often hear questions from our team about just how much of an impact each person can have on the success of the company. Sure, there are decisions that myself or someone on the executive team can make that alter the course of the company and impact our financial outlook that others cannot. However, everyone in the company has a role to play and can impact the performance of the company in a positive or negative way.

That mindset, that belief that we all have a role to play and an ability to impact the company’s performance is essential for our success as an employee-owned company. Each person’s belief that their performance supporting their client and the things they do everyday lead to the greater success of the company is central to our success. Our OKRs help instill that mindset at all levels of the company by giving every team member a clear goal that connects to the company’s overall success.

The OKR process is transparent — my OKRs are visible to everyone else. Everyone’s OKRs are aligned with the corporate level or divisional level OKRs. That alignment from top to bottom means everyone is clear on their impact and how it affects the performance of the company. No matter how small each Key Result may be, it aligns to a corporate OKR that is moving us forward.

The process also provides an opportunity to build new connections internally. Through the process, our teams can collaborate across divisions and clients to align on OKRs. Those new connections are increasingly important in our WFH environment. It also shortens the time to innovate when we are better able to contribute to each other’s OKRs. Rather than a siloed approach to goals, the OKR process ensures everyone has a chance to participate and contribute in the ways they can.

What Makes a Good OKR?

The best OKRs to analyze are going to vary from association to association. Consider first what your mission is — the thing that drives your association to be the very best it can be — and define it as clearly as possible. Then, identify specific benchmarks that, when reached, will significantly help that mission succeed. What’s key is to focus on the end result in a tangible way, rather than focusing on terms that focus on abstract meanings.

For example, an objective for a hypothetical nonprofit may be to increase readership of their scholarly journals. Key results will focus on how the association aims to achieve that, with results such as “increase advertising budget” or “develop a new system for delivering journals to interested readers.” These results focus on things that are achievable within a quarter, rather than a harder to attain status like “create an emotional link to our journals.” While a valid goal, it is less tangible, and thus would not belong in an OKR.


OKRs are a great tool for making sure every level of a business or association has a particular area of focus that benefits the entire organization. When you focus on particular, achievable areas of growth that you’re able to achieve in a reasonable timespan, you and your team have the opportunity to focus on the broader strokes of making an impact.