Objectives & Key Results.

OKR MODEL

Objectives define what we seek to achieve; key results are how those top priority goals will be attained with specific, measurable actions within a set time frame. OKRs surface our organizations most important work — by fostering focus on efforts and coordination.

The goal of OKRs is to enhance the satisfaction within the workplace, while boosting performance and retention.

KEY RESULTS PAIRED FOR QUANTITY AND QUALITY

Key results should be succinct, specific and measurable. All key results must result in attainment of the objective.

Quantity Goal

Three new features.

Quality Goal

Fewer than give bugs per feature in QA testing.

Result

Developers will write clearer code.

This format can be used across all stakeholders within the organization.

AN OKR QUALITY CONTINUUM

Innovation means saying no to one thousand things. The ideal number of quarterly OKRs will range between three and five.

Objective

Improve the on boarding program.

Key Result

Increase the average on boarding time by 25 percent.

Key Result

A/B test until the control or variation receives a conversation rate of 5 percent difference.

Key Result

Reduce on boarding process user errors by 95 percent.

Key Result

Fine tune OKR for one hour weekly.

Each individual must goal set each quarter, and any add on objectives and key results must fit into the established agenda.

Alignment is rare, and so transparent OKRs knit each individuals work to team efforts, departmental projects and the overall mission.

INTEGRATION MEETINGS

Each quarter department heads must present their goals and identified dependencies. Here are some basic questions that can be asked:

  • Are we meeting each individuals needs for buy in?
  • Is the team overstretched?
  • Can we make their objectives more realistic?

Teams should hold accountability for their OKRs and as the process continues throughout the quarters, objectives should become more precise, key results more measurable and achievement rates higher.

THE SETUP

OKRs can be tracked, advised and or adapted on the fly by utilizing software like Weekdone and Jira integration. These platforms provide formative OKR values:

  • They make everyone’s goals more visible. Users gain seamless access to OKRs for their manager, direct reports and the org at large.
  • They drive engagement. Teams and individuals tend to work better when they are working on the right things.
  • They promote internal networking. A transparent platform steers individuals to colleagues with shared interests.
  • They save time, money and frustration.

MIDLIFE TRACKING

OKRs are adaptable as they are meant to be guardrails, not chains or blinders. As we track and audit our OKRs, we have four options at any point in the cycle:

  • Continue: if a green zone “on track” goal isn’t broken, don’t fix it.
  • Update: Modify a yellow zone “needs attention” key results or objective to respond to changes in the workflow or external environment. What could be done differently to get the goal on track? Does it need a revised timeline?
  • Start: Launch a new OKR mid cycle, whenever the need arises.
  • Stop: When a red zone “at risk” goal has outlived its usefulness, the best solution may be to drop it.

A realtime dashboard allows us to quantify progress against a target and flag what needs attention. While OKRs are primarily a positive force for more, they also stop us from persisting in the wrong direction.

OKR WRAP UP

OKRs do not expire with completion of the work. There is tremendous value that can be gained from post hoc evaluation and analysis. The wrap ups consist of three parts: objective scoring, subjective self assessment and reflection.

SCORING

In scoring our OKRs, we mark what we’ve achieved and address how we might do it differently next time.

0.7 to 1.0
 We delivered

0.4 to 0.6

We made progress, but fell short of completion

0.0 to 0.3

We failed to make real progress

If the team is achieving an average of 95% on a KRs for an objective total, you are aiming too low.

SELF ASSESSMENT

In evaluating OKR performance, objective data is enhanced by the goal setters thoughtful, subjective judgement.

OKR
 Obtain 1000 new users

Progress

70%

Score
 0.9

Assessment

Due a slump in the market, the OKR was significantly tougher to achieve. Our 700 new users represent the top 85% of heavy users on the platform. An exceptional effort and outcome.

Utilizing OKRs in self assessments are to be used as guides and not grades.

REFLECTION

OKRs are inherently action oriented. The key to satisfaction is to set aggressive goals, achieve most of them, pause to reflect on the achievement, and then repeat the cycle. Here are some reflections for closing out an OKR cycle:

Did I accomplish all of my objectives? If so, what contributed to my success?

If not, what obstacles did I encounter?

If I were to rewrite a goal achieved in full, what would I change?

What have I learned that might alter my approach to the next cycles OKRs?

OKR wrap ups are retrospectives and forward looking at the same time. An unfinished objective may be rolled over to the next quarter, with a fresh set of key results — or the moment has passed and it is appropriately dropped.

OKR LITMUS TEST

Some simple tests to see if your OKRs are well enough to move forward with:

If you wrote them down within five minutes, they are most likely not great.

If your objective doesn’t fit on one line, it probably isn’t crisp enough.

If your KRs are expressed in team internal terms, they aren’t good enough. What matters isn’t the launch, it’s the impact.

Use real dates. If every key result happens on the last day of the quarter, you likely don’t have a real plan.

Make sure your key results are measurable: it must be possible to objectively assign a grade at the end of the quarter. Improve daily sign ups by 25 percent by May 1 is a great example.

OKR CYCLE

The typical OKR cycle may tend to look like the following:

Brainstorm Annual and Q1 OKRs

4–6 Weeks
Senior leaders start brainstorming top line company OKRs. Set your OKRs for Q1 and set the annual plan, which can help guide the direction of the company.

Communicate Company wide Yearly and Q1 OKRs

2 Weeks before quarter
Finalize company OKRs and communicate them to everyone within the organization.

Start of quarter

Communicate Team Q1 OKRs
Start of quarter
Based on the company’s OKRs, teams develop their own OKRs and share them at their meetings.

Share Employee Q1 OKRs
1 Week after start of quarter
One week after team OKRs re communicated, contributors share their own OKRs.

Employees Track Progress and Check In
Throughout quarter
Throughout the quarter, employees measure and share their progress, checking in regularly with their managers. Periodically through the quarter, contributors assess how likely they are to fully achieve their OKRs. If attainment appears unlikely, they may need to recalibrate.

Employees Reflect and Score Q1 OKRs
Near end of quarter
Towards the end of the quarter, contributors score their OKRs, perform a self assessment and reflect on what they have accomplished.

If the timeline is askew, make adjustments without the sacrificing of the Annual Brainstorm and Quarter OKRs for the remainder of the year.

PERFORMANCE CONVERSATION

Performance management is a two part, interwoven process. The first part consists of setting OKRs; the second entails regular and ongoing conversations, tailored to your needs.

GOAL PLANNING AND REFLECTION

To help facilitate this conversation, you may be asked the following:

  • What OKRs do you plan to focus on to drive the greatest value for your role, your team and or the company?
  • Which of these OKRs aligns to key initiatives in the organization?

PROGRESS UPDATES

To help facilitate this conversation, you may be asked the following:

  • How are your OKRs coming along?
  • What critical capabilities do you need to be successful?
  • Is there anything stopping you from attaining your objectives?
  • What OKRs need to be adjusted, added or eliminated — in light of shifting priorities?

MANAGER LED COACHING

To help facilitate this conversation, the manager should consider the following:

  • What behaviours or values do I want my report to continue to exhibit?
  • What behaviours or values do I want my report to stop exhibiting?
  • What coaching can I provide to help the report fully realize his or her potential?
  • During the conversation, you may ask what part of the job excites you most?
  • What aspects of your role would you like to change?

UPWARD FEEDBACK

To elicit candid input from a contributor, the manager may ask:

  • What are you getting from me that you find helpful?
  • What are you getting from me that impedes your ability to be effective?
  • What could I do for you that would help you to be more successful?

CAREER GROWTH

To help facilitate this conversation, you may be asked the following:

  • What skills or capabilities would you like to develop to improve in your current role?
  • In what areas do you want to grow to achieve your career goals?
  • What skills or capabilities would you like to develop for a future role?
  • From a learning, growth and development standpoint, how can I and the company help you get there?

PERFORMANCE CONVERSATION PREP

Before launching a performance conversation the following should be considered:

  • What were the contributor’s main objectives and responsibilities in the period in question?
  • Commit to three to five top objectives — what you need to achieve per cycle.
  • In choosing OKRs, look for objectives with the most leverage for outstanding performance.
  • Find the raw material for top line OKRs in the organizations mission statement, strategic plan or theme chosen by leadership.
  • To emphasize a departmental objective and enlist lateral support, elevate it to a company OKR.
  • For each objective, settle on no more than five measurable, unambiguous, time bound key results — how the objective will be attained.
  • For balance and quality control, pair qualitative and quantitative key results.
  • When a key result requires extra attention, elevate it into an objective for one or more cycles.
  • The single most important element for OKR success is conviction and buy in by the organizations leaders.