OKR vs Task: How OKRs Are Different From Task Management

Last Updated: June 14, 2022 By

On any one day, your employees will carry out many small tasks while simply doing their job.

These seemingly insignificant tasks that they’re doing are all helping them to reach a higher purpose, such as completing a project and achieving an OKR goal.

While tasks and OKRs are different things, you can’t have one without the other.

It’s important to make sure employees are clear on what the difference is between task management and meeting the objective of an OKR. This helps them to understand how their work fits into the bigger picture.

This has an impact on performance and goal alignment while improving the transparency of company-wide goals.

Let’s look at how they are different and why they’re both important.

What Is The Definition Of OKRs?

OKRs are Objectives and Key Results. They are goals that a company wants to achieve. They are normally used to achieve a stretch target or a big, important goal rather than for business-as-usual operations. This is because they are often challenging and change-inducing.

OKRs are usually reviewed after a Quarter to see how effectively they’re working.

With OKRs, your objective is the goal you have.

It’s the “what” you want to do.

For example, this might look something like “improving customer happiness during our delivery process”.

Key Results are the achievable, measurable result, and are the “how” of getting what you want.

Using the same example, Key Results might look something like this:

  1. Improve our customer NPS score (out of 100) from 70 to 90
  2. Reduce time taken to deliver products by 3 days to 1 day
  3. Resolve 90% of customer complaints at first touch

While your overall objective will usually stay the same, you will review and revise your Key Results regularly depending on how well they are working.

What Is Task Management?

A task is simply an activity that needs completing. We each perform hundreds of tasks a day, both at work and at home, for the purpose of achieving a goal.

This goal can be anything from getting the laundry done to finish off a big, important project. Getting to the end goal requires us to complete many small tasks.

As there are often so many tasks that need to be done, they can quickly become overwhelming and hard to manage. Without any system in place to help you keep on top of what you need to do, tasks can be missed or not completed properly.

In order to meet company-wide goals and projects, and deliver key results, employees need to be able to manage the tasks they have. A part of this is making sure they have a manageable workload, transparent goals, and managerial support.

OKR vs Tasks: What Are The Key Differences Between Them?

  • A task is something you do. While it’s not the same as the goal you want to achieve, it is what will help you get there. Objectives you set with OKRs are the goals and meeting them depends on you achieving Key Results. Key Results can only be achieved through the completion of tasks.
  • A task is one action you take, and it will often take many tasks in order to complete one job or project. There will then usually be many projects that need completing in order to achieve the OKR goals. There is, however, only one objective in an OKR. All of these small tasks help you to achieve one overall objective.
  • Tasks are different from the OKR process itself. In most organizations, it’s not possible for senior-level managers to monitor whether each individual employee is meeting every single task they are given. With OKRs, however, it is possible to set larger, higher-level objectives. If these are met, it is evidence that employees are completing their set tasks.

One of the key misconceptions people make is that Key Results in an OKR are equal to tasks.

This is not true.

The reason why it is easy to make this mistake is that in order to achieve Key Results, it needs to be broken down into a number of individual tasks. It is the completion of these individual tasks that helps a company achieve its Key Results.

How Do OKRs And Tasks Work Together?

Completing a task is just like ticking something off your to-do list. It’s just something you do. There’s no way of telling, however, whether that was the right thing to do.

OKR tells you what your goals should be, depending on what you want to achieve with your business. You can then use OKR to guide the tasks you do, knowing that they will bring you the results you’re looking for. You need to complete hundreds, thousands, or even millions of little tasks in order to meet your OKR goals.

Your goals are an amalgamation of all the hard work that went into each small task. These tasks make up each individual project, and those projects contributed to larger projects. Ultimately, they help you to meet the Objective in the OKR. Goals are bigger than tasks but it’s the tasks that help you meet your goals.

What’s The Benefit Of Implementing Both In Your Business?

Using OKRs to set goals for your company is a powerful way of achieving challenging objectives. They help you fix your Objective, set Key Results, and monitor how well things are going during the interim.

In turn, they create a sense of focus, transparency, and alignment within the organization. Every employee knows how their work contributes to the overall mission of the business.

Other benefits of using OKRs are they encourage employees to perform better, promote collaborative working, and make sure there is goal alignment throughout teams.

Final thoughts

In order to meet your goals, you need to achieve the Key Results. To achieve the Key Results, you need a strategy and tactics to get you there.

This strategy will involve the use of tasks. Therefore, the benefit of implementing both is that it helps you to achieve your Objective. Companies that are truly exceeding their own goals are those that organize tasks into OKRs.

If you would like to implement OKRs in your organization, check our list of top 10 OKR Softwares in 2022 and find out which one suits you best.

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