Adopting an OKR Framework is only half the battle. Ensuring that the program is on track to maturity requires careful monitoring to ensure that the OKRs are set up in a realistic manner and progressing in a balanced way. Here’s how you can ensure their balanced progress:
Effectively implementing an OKR methodology is the Holy Grail pursued by startups as well as established organizations, as they seek exponential growth and success. They trust in its abilities to improve employee engagement and performance even as it furthers the achievement of organizational goals by keeping the focus on their objectives. OKRs are also relied upon to translate organizational objectives into personal objectives that are ambitious and innovative. They are then assigned to different levels, creating an alignment between the Objectives and Key Results at different levels. What’s more, they allow for frequent reviews and course corrections, making it easier to achieve the targeted objectives and post the expected results.
When companies set up OKRs and determine their quarterly targets, their enthusiasm in fixing stretch goals could lead them to set quite unrealistic goals. Unless done right, this could actually hinder progress as employees get demoralized by the impossible target and fail to perform even at normal levels.
Keep your program healthy with frequent reviews to monitor the progress on the various goals. It is not enough to track OKRs which are performing to expectations. Your OKR software can help you to track the performance of all the OKRs during the quarter and check if all of them are progressing at the expected rate or not.
When reviewing the progress of your OKRs using your OKR software, you may find that your program is working great, and key results are clearly demonstrating how well the actual results are meeting or exceeding the expected results. In that case, there’s no need for any corrective action. But, at times, we may find that some OKRs are progressing as expected or even exceeding expectations, but others are lagging behind. Take it as a call to action even if one OKR is lagging behind or progressing ahead of schedule. Such imbalance in the progress of OKRs is taken to signify an imbalance in the functioning of the various teams in the organization and can help you diagnose much bigger issues and problem, which require resolution. It may seem to be an insignificant issue, but it could still be causing the unbalanced OKRs. When the progress of OKRs becomes lopsided, it could leave things unbalanced and hinder the growth of the organization itself.
If you happen to be facing such an issue and want to fix it, you may want to review your OKR and fix some issues which may be causing it. Experienced people offer some insights into the implementation of OKRs, aimed at deriving the desired results and fixing issues when necessary. Let us look at what they are. When setting OKRs at an individual level, or at a team or organizational level, it is important to set an ideal number of objectives. The same applies to their corresponding key results. Many would keep this at 3 while some would take it to 5, but it helps if they are not taken beyond this limit. What would happen if one were to adopt more than 3-5 OKRs is a question that we will be answering here.
There’s no doubt that it is easier to be working with a limited number of objectives. If there is no limit placed on the number of objectives, the employee or the team would be driven to pursue them all. This would make them lose focus along the way and the truly important objectives may fail to attract the attention they need and deserve. This would dilute the efforts overall and affect the progress of the team and ultimately the business itself as the OKRs become unbalanced. Limited OKRs help to bring the useful and important objectives into focus and make it easier to pursue them.
Most companies prefer to limit their OKRs to 3. You may stop at 5. Or stay with only 2. The important thing here is to make sure that the chosen objectives are not too many, and too unmanageable. Some companies like to focus on every aspect of the business, and start setting one for each function, like HR, finance, sales, marketing, engineering, product, and so on. The issue with too many objectives is that they divert your attention from the really important objectives. This would in turn affect your growth and ultimately affect your plans for success.
It pays to review the functioning of the departments or teams which are causing unbalanced OKRs. Take a look at all the components which go to determine the performance of the team or department. Check if the issues could have been caused by the fact that the team or department was not on board with the strategy. The reasons could vary from the constitution of the team, which lacks the required skills for success all the way to their lack of focus on the goals set for them.
Always keep in mind that the OKRs are meant to help you improve your productivity by achieving your goals. While there’s no hard and fast rule which sets a specific limit on the objectives you are to choose, do try to pick only such objectives as would really help you grow and succeed.
Ensure that there is balanced progress in your OKR program, and make sure that the performance of the teams is efficient and even at the organizational level. After all, this is also a measure of the effectiveness of not just your OKR plan but also your effectiveness at implementing and executing its various parts right. Fixing issues, both big and small, with your OKR Framework helps you achieve progress which meets your expectations and signals the maturity of your OKR program, with a highly well-developed set of OKRs.
You can also read the following blog posts on Getting started with OKRs and FAQs on OKR Implementation.