7- Common OKR Mistakes and Pitfalls to Avoid

Published On: July 6, 2021|Categories: Objective and Key Results|

7- Common OKR Mistakes and Pitfalls to Avoid

Published On: July 6, 2021|
okr pitfalls and best practices

OKR’s are a great way to attain the most valorous goals. OKR’s are time-bound and push individuals, teams, and companies to have clear goals in a time-bound and measurable way.

OKR’s require a comprehensive adoption plan to guarantee effectiveness. Cultural change is key alongside commitment and patience.

Objectives are ambitious and sometimes visionary, while Key Results are numeric and have to be measurable.

The Truth About OKRs

OKR’s require a wide-ranging adoption plan to warrant success. Planning, commitment, and diligence are crucial to attaining triumph in the likes of Google and other booming organizations that have adopted the OKR methodology.

If businesses are looking at embracing OKR’s they should be aware of their potential pitfalls and also understand how to avoid them.

7 Common OKR Pitfalls that Affects Your Business

Pitfall 1 – Set – but forget

While the business may jump into implementing the OKR methodology, they may soon return to what they were doing before. This is where cultural and behavioral change matters.

Tracking progress, regular discussions, and reviews are essential to staying in the groove.

Pitfall 2 – OKRs don’t have an Executive buy-in

The entire success of OKR depends on the executive buy-in. It is a safety net for the teams to believe in the process. When there is an equal contribution from the management team it becomes easier to execute as the resources required are planned and allotted.

Pitfall 3 – Setting unachievable objectives

Objectives should be realistic. Possibilities of achieving objectives that are being set should be evaluated. The intent is to push and challenge employees and not demotivate them. Setting objectives that are impossible from the outset will only cause frustration. The business will need to collaborate with employees and help them set objectives that are challenging but achievable.

Pitfall 4 – OKR’s being treated as tasks

OKR’s should not be treated as tick-in-the-box activities. They are outcomes/ results. Companies often focus on project plans for deliverables and it is critical that the focus moves from tasks/ activities to results & outcomes.

One thing to remember is that – projects can have various tasks, but OKR’s can have various projects. Objectives are measured by key results, but how does one achieve those objectives? Associate key results with projects, which in turn have a lot of tasks that need to be actioned in order to complete those projects (and of course, these projects will help achieve KRs and ultimately objectives).

Using a single work management platform to keep track of goals that individuals need to achieve in order to accomplish planned objectives.

Pitfall 5 – Setting only top-down objectives

Setting objectives that are only top-down will foil motivation and creativity. Giving employees some level of sovereignty, on the other hand, empowers the employee, encourages creativity, and facilitates growth opportunities.

Pitfall 6 – Having too many OKR’s

When too many objectives are set, employees tend to lose focus and become overwhelmed which results in a lack of prioritization of critical objectives that are key for breakthrough performance. Employees may feel disengaged leading to delays and slower execution.

It’s can be a healthier practice for employees to exceed the expectations than to struggle with too many objectives.

Pitfall 7 – Not being able to measure key results

Attaching numeric values to key results make objectives measurable. Key results measure the achievement of an objective.

5 Objectives and Key Results Best Practices

1 – Align

It is very essential that there is a companywide alignment of goals, inclusion & education of employees for the overall success of the OKR methodology. Maintaining transparency and including everyone in updates will ensure teams are aligned and help to anticipate any issues or blockers. Teams should be encouraged to set objectives that align with the overall objectives of the organization.

2 – Less is More

Setting fewer objectives helps prioritization, focus, and overall outcome. Having a maximum of 5 objectives and 2-3 key measurable & quantifiable results are suggested to make objectives more achievable.

3 – Setting Cadence and Reviewing OKR’s regularly

Tracking progress and developing regular OKR reviewing habits help set the pace and achieve the intended result. Since OKR’s are time-bound, timeboxing each objective helps them be met in a reasonable timeframe. It is good to have monthly or quarterly key focus areas.

4 – Paring Key Results with Objectives

Key results should be numeric and a measurable way to define achievement. Every objective set can have 2-3 key results to measure success.

5 – Reflective Reviews

Holding reflecting review meetings with the teams at the end of each quarter on what went well and what didn’t will help everyone come together to see the results. This can act as a moment of recognition and also motivate the team.

OKR goal setting, when done properly, has the ability to help organizations yield remarkable results. While the introductory phase may have a few teething issues, they will be easy to detect and fix. Once you develop a cadence with your OKR practice, you’ll begin to see just how powerful this goal-setting methodology is, as well as all of the ways it can help your company grow and improve.

How to Avoid OKR Mistakes?

Keep OKRs Aspirational

Keep the OKRs aspirational to motivate the team to think out of the box. The peer motivation and the aspiration will make the OKRs a success.

Creating Ambiguous and Vague OKR

Create very clear and concise OKRs, use plain English. OKRs are to be understood at all levels in the organization, hence it is essential to keep it simple so the purpose is conveyed clearly.

Designate Objective and Key Result owners

Do not work on any objective that does not have owners. Until and unless the owner is assigned it’s difficult to track or to analyze the overall progress then the entire process becomes generic, not specific.

Communicating OKRs to The Team

Communicate OKRs in All-hands meet to ensure and demonstrate the fact that it is an organizational agenda and the team should work on it together.

OKR Insights from Google

John Doerr created a change in Google in late 1999. The presentation helped the founders to see the big picture. and institutionalized their “think big” ethos.”

– Eric Schmidt, Google

Google proved to the world the power of OKRs, even after a decade we still see leaps and bounds of benefits. Learning from Google helps organizations to make great decisions and create strategies. Insights from Google help in creating alignment, engagement, and greater results.

Here Are the Top Insights Collected from Google’s Video:

  1. We should never compare an apple to an orange and say that it was possible for Google by we are no Google. Google started the OKR journey even before they saw success, they started when the team was only 40. It could and will work for any company as it is industry agnostic.
  2. Google’s success was predominantly because they had concrete data. They meticulously followed the tracking and measured the objectives based on the metric-driven key results.
  3. OKRs are connected both horizontally and vertically. The OKRs are connected across the individual, team, and company objectives. Klau, in the video, uses the example of a football team: the head coach, defensive coordinator, and individual player to depict OKRs.
  4. Objectives should not put us at ease it should make us a bit uncomfortable. As Klau puts it if you know where we are reaching before starting that’s not a quality OKR.
  5. All OKRs contributions on an organizational level but not individual OKRs may not be an organizational priority. We can have individual OKRs which can contribute to another objective. As per the football analogy: The defensive coordinator may not be very connected or aligned to getting featured in the paper like his PR team, but he will contribute to the main priorities, including playing well and driving attendance.
  6. But the virtue of their nature, OKRs create and drive discipline and transparency in an organization, because the team has a visibility of the entire organization as to how the organization is performing.
  7. New discussions are created by individuals while creating OKRs and this helps organizations to get new insights and ideas.
  8. Keeping more than 50% of objectives from the bottom up creates effective OKRs and cannot be dictated from the top.
  9. It’s important to understand the difference between objectives and key results. Klau explains the two by using examples of actual OKRs that he composed in the past.
  10. Low progress in the OKRs should not be considered as failures rather they provide meaningful insights for the future road map and while creating OKRs for the next quarter.
  11. According to Klau, OKRs don’t take a lot of time, as it has a timeline attached to it. Leaders have to establish a unified cadence and set a rhythm while implementing and grading OKRs.
  12. Having a one-on-one meeting in a quarter will do magic. Because the process is data-driven, it is easy to facilitate one-on-one meetings. Having regular check-ins could prevent the need for the lengthy quarterly meetings Klau kept referring to, as well as formal, antiquated performance reviews.
  13. Klau answers a question about when a management team should adopt OKRs – Klau answers, as early as possible, and even a team of 5 the earlier we adopt OKR the success is easier.

What Can Datalligence Offer?

Aspiring to achieve the business goal is every organization’s requirement but it very crucial to get the whole organization aligned to what is needed to achieve the goal. The team has to be on board and work together. Datalligence‘s OKR platform brings the team together in the platform and assigns OKRs to individuals and helps them to align themselves to the big picture.

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