Best practices for getting started with OKRs and Viva Goals


While the OKR framework and its implementation are relatively straightforward, learning a new goal-setting framework and software requires you to adjust your way of working.

Introducing change requires more than a tactical approach, especially when it involves work rhythms and expectations. Employees need time and training to adjust. Recognizing this process and giving time and space for it increases adoption and long-term success. If you're an OKR champion or leader in your organization, learn how to ensure adoption in our Viva Goals Adoption Guide.

This unit outlines what to expect as you navigate change in daily work rhythms and offer best practices for successfully getting started with a new OKR program using Viva Goals.

Five best practices for getting started with OKRs and Viva Goals

1. Begin with the end in mind

If you're leading the OKR rollout at your organization

One of the best ways to create clear and lasting change is to be clear about why OKRs are important to your organization and to define the goal of your program with OKRs and Viva Goals.

Why are you implementing OKRs and Viva Goals?

  • To provide better transparency across your organization?
  • To align distributed workers around a common goal?
  • To spearhead a new product launch?
  • To provide focus to fend off a competitor?  

What does your ideal state look like?

You can even use the OKR framework to define success for Viva Goals and assign yourself or your team this OKR.

Being clear on your "why" and communicating what success looks like to your organization will inspire and motivate employees as you kick off your OKR program with Viva Goals and model the visibility, accountability, and progress that OKRs bring into organizations.  

If you're getting started as a Viva Goals user

  • Understand the benefits of OKRs to you:
    • Priorities are more focused, so you have clarity about what you should be doing and why.
    • Visibility into top priorities for the entire organization, your own team, and cross-functional teams.
    • Ability to better prioritize work, so less time is wasted on non-business critical initiatives.
    • Improved autonomy and ownership of your piece of business.
    • Greater alignment to every team member you work with.
  • Absorb your organization-level mission and OKRs. Ask yourself, "How does the work my team does contribute to this success?"
  • Engage with OKRs and offer feedback on the rollout process. This will help your organization (and you) reach the ideal state: clarity and alignment around work and "the why."

2. Define your team

If you're leading the OKR rollout at your organization

Much like an orchestra, a successful OKR rollout requires a solid team working together in concert to have a great performance. Here are the key OKR stakeholders and what they do:

Role Responsibilities
Executive sponsor Communicate high-level vision and values of Viva Goals company-wide
Super champion Ensure the business goals are realized from adoption of Viva Goals
Champions Help evangelize Viva Goals and manage objection handling
Project lead Oversee Viva Goals deployment process and logistics
Tenant admin (IT specialist) Oversee all technical aspects of the Viva Goals deployment and rollout
Department leads (stakeholders) Identify how departments will use Viva Goals and encourage engagement
Early adopters Use Viva Goals early on and provide feedback to help smooth out any issues ahead of broad launch to entire organization
Employee training lead Manage and communicate training content about Viva Goals
OKR community / L&D leader Owns the creation and management of an internal community focused around OKRs, enabling broad discussion, and coordinating learning opportunities across the company.

For more information on the roles and responsibilities necessary for a successful OKR rollout, see the OKRs and Viva Goals Roles and Responsibilities Cheat Sheet.


Depending on your organization, the different roles and responsibilities may overlap. For example, the OKR Champion could also be an executive sponsor, or the tenant admin might also be the project lead.

If you're getting started as a Viva Goals user

  • Understand your role in the OKR orchestra. If you have questions, ask your OKR Champion.
  • Once you have been invited as a user, spend time in Viva Goals. See your organization-wide OKRs and follow instructions for creating your own OKRs.

3. Communicate clearly

If you're leading the OKR rollout at your organization

The most successful rollouts have full support and clear communication from leaders across the organization.  

It's critical that leaders:

  • Educate their organization on the value of OKRs
  • Explain why they're being implemented
  • Reflect on their current culture

Senior leaders should encourage regular OKR check-ins and rallying around OKRs as the source of truth for alignment and goal-setting within the organization.

If you're getting started as a Viva Goals user

  • Understand which OKRs you own or contribute to. To learn more about creating OKRs in Viva Goals, visit our Create OKRs help article here.
  • Understand how to make check-ins on OKRs you own. Learn more about check-ins in Viva Goals.

4. Leverage the right tools

Whether you're leading the OKR and Viva Goals rollout at your organization or entering the product for the first time, skill yourself in all that Viva Goals has to offer. Leverage features like integrations with Microsoft Teams or Dashboards to get a clear overview of how OKRs are progressing at your organization and share that information with others. You can find these resources on:

5. Be patient

It takes several quarters for organizations to become truly proficient in OKRs. This is normal and expected.

Changes are rarely as straightforward as we imagine they'll be. Think back to a major change that has happened in your own life, like moving to a new city, changing jobs, or getting a new pet.

Psychologists Don Kelley and Daryl Connor found that the path through change is actually quite predictable. They call it the Emotional Cycle of Change, and it consists of five stages: uninformed optimism, informed pessimism, the valley of despair, informed optimism, and success and fulfillment.

Diagram showing the emotional cycle of change.

Having a framework for this cycle will equip you to navigate this change more successfully and support your team to do the same.

  1. Uninformed Optimism. This is going to be great! With OKRs, this moment feels like OKRs will instantly catapult you and your company to the next level.
  2. Informed Pessimism. With OKRs, people are recognizing the work involved in learning OKRs and a new tool.
  3. Valley of Despair. With OKRs, results aren't in yet, people are wondering “Why OKRs?” .
  4. Informed Optimism. This is when people begin adapting to the change and become more comfortable. People understand how OKRs can reduce work and create alignment. The vision for how implementing OKRs will benefit everyone feels within reach.
  5. Success and Fulfillment. In the last stage of the cycle of change, people have seen the need for the change and adopted OKRs. OKRs are viewed as an opportunity. This is the part of the OKR journey where the benefits of OKRs are felt and realized. The work of behavior change now feels natural. Individuals, teams, and departments are aligned to company goals and people experience how their goals are clarified and realized.

Understanding the Emotional Cycle of Change prepares you for what's to come and increases resilience when you or your team experiences challenges along the way. Remembering that OKRs are a journey that takes time reduces the pressure people may feel to become immediate OKR experts.

Adjust your expectations now to a long-term learning curve and cultivate patience with yourself and your team to gain these skills and roll out a successful OKR program.