Why are OKRs not working?

why is OKR not working

Main reasons why OKRs are not working for you

While OKRs can improve focus and alignment, they don’t assure success. Here are some specific situations, conditions, and reasons why OKRs may not lead to the desired results:

1. Lack of training

Employees don’t understand the OKR methodology or how to write good OKRs if they are not properly trained. This can lead to poorly defined or irrelevant OKRs. For example, a marketing team may set a vague objective to “improve brand awareness” without specific, measurable key results.

2. No stakeholder involvement

OKRs are ineffective if set in isolation by managers without collaborating with team members and cross-functional partners who will help achieve them. For example, a sales team might set an objective around increasing revenue without input from the marketing team to drive new leads. 

3. Lack of leadership buy-in

Leaders must actively participate in the OKR process by guiding objective setting, resourcing key results, and regularly reviewing progress. Otherwise, OKRs become just a paper exercise. For example, executives without reference OKRs in strategy meetings signal a lack of commitment.

4. Vague Objectives and Key Results

Objectives need to be concrete, actionable statements, not vague aspirations. For example, “become a leader in our industry” is vague compared to “increase market share by 2%.”

Key results are useless if success criteria can’t be tracked quantitatively. For example, “improve employee engagement” is not measurable, unlike “increase employee net promoter score by 5 points.”

5. Too many OKRs

Organizations fail at OKRs by setting too many objectives that become unmanageable. Experts recommend 3-5 OKRs per team. Setting 10+ OKRs defeats the purpose of focus.

6. Lack of transparency & communication

OKRs lose impact if they are not visible across the organization. Employees become disengaged if progress and priorities are unclear. Regular check-ins must discuss OKR status.

7. No ownership & accountability

Individuals must be assigned ownership of each objective and key result, not just left to teams. There must be accountability through performance management for achieving OKRs.

8. Unrealistic goals

Impossible OKRs demotivate rather than inspire employees. Leaders must ensure objectives are ambitious yet achievable based on resources. For example, a 10x increase in sales is likely unrealistic.

9. Not using a dedicated OKR platform

Manual tracking of OKRs through spreadsheets or docs is inefficient. Dedicated software eliminates confusion, increases productivity, establishes team alignment, and enables smooth collaboration.

Why does OKR software not work well for some organizations?

Some organizations may find that OKR software doesn’t quite meet their needs due to misalignment with their unique culture, unclear goal-setting processes, and a lack of commitment from leadership. However, the best OKR software can address these challenges, offering tailored solutions for seamless integration and effective goal management.

To really flourish, OKRs require a fertile environment – a culture that values transparency, alignment, and ownership. This culture should be promoted by leaders who actively participate and fully embrace the process rather than simply giving it their approval.


OKRs have become popular for setting goals, but whether they work successfully depends on how well a company handles its inner workings, talks to each other, and deals with change management.

Leaders and managers need to understand that just using OKRs isn’t enough. Success comes when everyone in the company embraces a new way of working that values being clear about goals, working together, and always learning.

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Ashish Kumar

Content Marketer

Hey folks, I'm Ashish, your friendly content marketer, making the goal-setting and strategy execution a bit simpler for the team players. What drives me at work is my mission to help professionals perform better with purpose-driven goal-setting and the way of working. I think every professional should have a purpose beyond monetary goals and a common vision that brings about teamwork. I work closely with my team and always try to make my write-ups more reader-centric and helpful. Away from my desk, I often go out to hike, play football, be with my family, and minimize my screen time (yeah, the internet is overwhelming!). Here is my LinkedIn if you wanna reach out to me. Read More

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