There are several dysfunctional Objective and Key Results concepts around on the market. One of the most common relates to the way you keep track of the OKRs: a long, long time ago in a conference room far, far away, there was a workshop to define certain OKRs and… that’s it. Now it’s just a matter of pressuring people to deliver. Or is it? It seems OKRs are kinda like potatoes, that you can just throw them in there and wait for them to grow on their own.
In fact, when we do this we’re repeating the same exact dysfunction that prevents agile from producing results in some companies: we’re trying to generate an initial push for revolution while blind to the need to change the mindset and to the daily effort it entails. We’re setting ourselves up for frustration when the fact we now have squads and sprints doesn’t bring us the expected business agility.
In order for OKRs not to become just another cute acronym afloat in the great Corporate Jargon Sea, we have a few tips on how to keep track of your OKRs:
Make it easy to check-in
Check-in must be brief and focused on improving the result. The facilitator can ask leaders to read the defined objective. Then the first metric can be presented and we can know how well we’re doing by that metric. We discuss the level of trust we have in achieving that KR and propose actions in case that level of trust is average or low.
If there were actions already proposed in the previous check-in, we can bring in what we’ve learned to feed into better decisions regarding our next actions.
It’s important to remember that we must avoid a witch-hunt effect at all costs. The goal of a check-in is not to be a status report, nor a corporate presentation or a space for people to present excuses. It’s just a checkpoint, an opportunity to adjust our strategy and coordinate our efforts leveraging our collective intelligence.
OKRs visible. All the time. For everybody.
For everyone in the company to be able to contribute to achieving the objectives, transparency is crucial. Make sure the OKRs panel/board/spreadsheet is always available, visible, and updated. It’s also interesting to ensure visibility to each OKR’s leader and champion (or facilitator), as it may help to make discussions easier, to spread the mindset and to promote collaboration.
Constitute leaders and give them responsibilities
For each OKR it’s nice to assign a leader. This person, unlike the facilitator, does not have an impartial vantage point. They care strongly about achieving the OKRs and try to motivate and drive people so actions do generate the expected positive effect.
This leader doesn’t have to be directly responsible for achieving the OKRs. They do have, however, a genuine interest in achieving that result, so they’ll work within and across the organization to ensure actions, planned in check-ins or not, have the expected impact.
Managers as obstacle removers
Managers must pay close attention to check-ins not as status reports (they must come to check-ins having studied the OKRs board and the actions already proposed), but as opportunities to remove obstacles and open doors throughout the organization. The role of managers in this process is to understand where they can act to ensure their team achieves their goal.
Questions like “How can I help?” and “Will it be beneficial if I get involved now?” are extremely healthy. In this scenario the manager assumes the role of a servant leader, using their power to clear the way and support their team in improving results.
Did you like this? Find more about it in our OKR Workshop!
Find tips on how to keep track of Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) in your organization with the Agile Expert Andressa Chiara.