Troubleshooting Your Organization’s OKRs

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Troubleshooting Common Problems with OKR in Your Organization

We have seen firsthand how organizations spend valuable time planning to implement OKRs, only to not achieve the desired results at the end of the term. This gap between strategy and execution derives from a variety of factors ranging from conflicting priorities, inadequate communication, lack of alignment, and accountability.

Click here to learn more about OKRs.

In this article, we will talk about the common pitfalls companies face while executing OKRs, and some tactics we have used to overcome them.

OKR Mistake #1: OKRs are not written to inspire

Your OKRs will not work unless you involve all your teams to achieve them. This is where most companies go wrong. They do not write OKRs to inspire, and as a result, team members and other stakeholders do not feel attached to the set goal and do nothing to achieve them.

Solution

  • Set Objectivess as clearly as possible by conducting brainstorming sessions to ensure that the defined OKRs inspire the entire organization
  • Ensure that your Objectivess include the ‘why’ to inspire individuals and help them imagine the bigger picture
  • Write your OKRs such that all stakeholders feel involved, inspired, and engaged.

OKR Mistake #2: OKRs are not made to be company-wide

Another reason why your OKR might fail during execution is that Objectivess are not written get as many people as possible involved in accomplishing them. More often than not, top-level executives push out OKRs without developing buy-in as only a small group is involved in drafting the Objectives. As a result, the teams actually responsible for realizing the OKRs are not fully aware of the goals.

Even if top management involves more people during the strategic planning phase, they are often ill-prepared and poorly equipped to write great Objectivess.

Solution

  • Conduct strategic planning sessions that involve not just the executive leaders but the broader leadership team, along with mid-level management.
  • This larger group should create awareness about the set OKRs and communicate with the rest of the company in a two-week planning period at the beginning of each quarter.
  • Have everyone complete OKR training so they are knowledgeable about the framework and how-to write effective OKRs

OKR Mistake #3: Lack of communication

Lack of communication is the reason many companies fail to achieve their goals. It is essential to track OKR conversations before finalizing the OKRs. This is because the constructive discussions before the OKRs are rolled-out ensure proper alignment and improve company-wide adoption.

Solution

  • Engage all participants actively in the strategic planning phase of the quarterly OKR cycle
  • Teams and employees should align their work with respect to the company’s Objectivess.
  • Leadership, including managers, must prioritize weekly OKR check-is and team reviews

OKR Mistake #4: Not Ready For Org Transparency

Another reason most OKRs fail during the execution stage is the lack of transparency. Companies do not inculcate the required transparency around OKRs. Once an OKR is introduced, little care is given to ensure that everyone is on the same page. The set goals are not communicated within the company. Further, top-level management often falls into the set and forget trap and fails to review the goals on the schedule cadence.

Solution

  • Involve all your stakeholders while rolling out OKRs. Provide greater visibility in the system. Centralize all the OKRs in one place, and allow your employees to view them.
  • Introduce a greater degree of visibility around OKRs by providing your teams with information around OKR, including staffing, revenue, and performance.

OKR Mistake #5: Not Committing to OKRs in Public

More often than not, top management hurriedly gets through the strategic planning phase and launches the execution phase without ensuring that all the employees understand their contribution to top-level Objectivess. As a result, there is a lack of alignment and commitment across the teams, reflecting itself in the form of missed OKRs.

Solution

  • Ensure that all the employees are accountable to the set goals.
  • Conduct a group session at the end of the OKR strategic planning phase to develop a commitment level across the teams. Let the individuals commit to one another on their contributions for the quarter. This cultivates awareness around the contribution of each employee.
  • Let each team make a final commitment to the leader regarding their individual goals.

OKR Mistake #6: Not reviewing OKR performance on a regular cadence

Many OKRs fail not because of the lack of commitment but because of the infrequent team reviews. Most companies do monthly check-ins and reviews. This is not frequent enough to get the required momentum and inspire the teams to buck up.  

Solution

  • Conduct bi-weekly OKR team reviews with monthly meetings to review the progress so far, are take preventive maintenance actions.
  • Continuous and consistent reviews make teams, and peers feel more accountable for their goals. They are able to understand their strengths and weaknesses and strategize accordingly. This also builds a culture of growth where every individual is inspired to meet the set goals.

OKR Mistake #7: Not reviewing OKR performance on a regular cadence

Many OKRs fail not because of the lack of commitment but because of the infrequent team reviews. Most companies do monthly check-ins and reviews. This is not frequent enough to get the required momentum and inspire the teams to buck up.  

Solution

  • Conduct bi-weekly OKR team reviews with monthly meetings to review the progress so far, are take preventive maintenance actions.
  • Continuous and consistent reviews make teams, and peers feel more accountable for their goals. They are able to understand their strengths and weaknesses and strategize accordingly. This also builds a culture of growth where every individual is inspired to meet the set goals.

OKR Mistake #7: Missed one-on-ones

Leaders often see one-on-ones as a waste of time and many employees view them as inefficient or unorganized.  OKR solves this problem by providing you with structured information and progress to review weekly. They believe that reviewing OKRs at the team level is the right thing to do and that reviewing at the individual level is not required. This is where the OKR execution fails. Conducting one-on-ones help you focus on the individual contribution of each team member.

Solution

  • Drive results by having a conversation with your team members instead of asking for a status update.
  • Make way for two-way feedback early in the OKR cycle so that both the manager and employee are on the same page and well-aware of each other’s expectations.
  • One-on-ones help leaders get a better picture of how well things are going and in which direction.

OKR Mistake #8: Do Not Complete an OKR Retrospective

Time and again, People Stretch Solutions has seen companies skip retrospectives. They skip to the next quarter in a hurry without reflecting on the last quarter and analyzing their progress.

Also, companies who conduct retrospectives are not able to make the most out of it. This is generally because the environment is not conducive enough for employees to be open about where they fell short. This lack of transparency and growth culture prevents employees from stretching to achieve big ambitious Objectives.

Solution

  • Conduct a retrospective session and review how everyone has performed.
  • Celebrate the successes of departments, teams, and individuals who met or exceeded their Objectives.
  • Analyze and identify the roadblocks, and inspire the teams to work even better in the next quarter.
Click here for a deeper look into OKR Retrospectives.

Your Turn

These were some of the mistakes that we have identified over the years that most companies are guilty of making. If you cannot execute OKRs successfully in your company and not sure what is going wrong, contact our OKR experts today or click the learn more about implementing an OKR framework in your organization.

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