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8 Ways to improve your OKRs engagement

8 Ways to improve your OKRs engagement

If you are thinking about OKRs as a three-month trial or project, stop and think again.  OKRs are anything but a project. They require mindshare, executive support, and discipline to take it through week on week, quarter on quarter. 

Think about OKRs as a way of rewiring your organization to a new way of work, moving teams to think about: 

  • Outcomes instead of Tasks 
  • Vital few instead of the Trivial Many 
  • Shared commitments  instead of ‘set goals in silos’
  • Check-Ins instead of year-end feedback 
  • Bottom-up alignment of metrics rather than a top-down pecking order 

Fitbots surveyed global OKRs practitioners to find that most introduced OKRs only about a year ago and are still realizing the benefits of the framework. 37% of our respondents sustained OKRs for 1-3 years and 13% over 3 years. 

OKRs is not for the faint-hearted.  It requires executive sponsorship, commitment from teams, and investment of time to reflect deeply and iterate to move the business forward. 

How do you describe OKRs? 

OKRs is an acronym for Objectives and Key Results.

Objectives tell you “What do we need to achieve?” They are qualitative statements that must call out a business value.  

Key Results focus on the “How do we measure success?” You can think about Key Results like a Google Map, moving you from point A to B.  

Key Results Start with a Verb + Metric to be measured and improved + movement from X to Y 

Tasks/Initiatives which is “What do we need to do to get there? The Verbs in OKRs are important, as everything about OKRs is about moving the organization through actions!  

How do you get teams to stay engaged on OKRs?  

1. Write OKRs as a team, not as individuals 

If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go as a team’ - anonymous 

The power of teams is unparalleled. When OKRs are written, the energy, collaboration and conversations of teams set the foundation for success.  OKRs are not to be written as individuals. Teams come together to clearly list down their strategy on ‘What do we need to accomplish together’ and list down 3-5 metrics to measure success.  

2. The role of Team Champions or Scouts 

Team Champions or Scouts are a must-have role in keeping the spirit of OKRs kicking. Who are these Champs or Scouts? 

The role of Team Champions is different from the role of the Internal OKRs champion.   Team Champions act like the Scrum masters in agile. They are not the senior most members in the team, but the ones who have the most enthusiasm to learn end to end of the business, and get teams together.  

Team Champions represent their teams during leadership reviews, onboard new team members onto OKRs and highlight Key Results at risk.  

Team Champions also monitor the energy levels of teams, and their enthusiasm towards OKRs progress.   

3. Power of structured weekly check-ins 

What are Weekly Check Ins? 

These are 30 minute meetings which are not another addition to your To-Dos. These meetings are where teams look deeply into the outcome metrics, and most often replace an existing meeting which is meant to look at a laundry list of tasks!   

Remember, in OKRs, you are looking at outcome progress, and eliminating constraints early, should they arise. OKR Check-in meetings when done week on week require data to be updated on progress. Asking a few powerful questions would be important to get teams thinking about outcomes rather than inputs.

Here’s our list:

  1. Which KRs have truly progressed?
  2. What are those big initiatives planned for the coming weeks?
  3. Are there any KRs at risk?
  4. Which ones have the most bi-directional alignment?
  5. How pumped are we in achieving these KRs?

4. Have fun while you can 

Making OKR meetings fun is a game-changer to get teams enthused. Here are some OKR Games highly recommended by Team OKR Champions:

  1. People Bingo: Get some fun facts about your team members. Place a clue, and have the rest guess who that is! That’s the team member who goes next with the OKR updates. People come up with all kinds of fun clues in People Bingo ‘I can do a headstand for 5 whole minutes’ or ‘The one who has 5 cats and a dog’.

  1. The OKR Jeopardy Game: This is a good game to get new members to create a jeopardy game board (you can get some free sites to create these boards). Divide the team into groups, and shoot away those questions. Oh! Don’t forget to get those fun gifts, even if they are gift cards or virtual points.

5. Leadership Teams are your OKRs ambassadors 

OKRs requires sponsorship and executive commitment. CEOs ,COOs, Chief of Staff or the Chief of Strategy are the best sponsors of OKRs. However they cannot do this alone. Top Teams or Leadership teams are required to step forward to be OKRs ambassadors. 

As OKRs ambassadors, leaders look at metrics set by their teams ,remove blockers, coach for success and help teams to improve metrics over time. 

If you have Sponsors on board, teams on board and Leadership teams staying away from OKRs, it is a recipe for disaster.   

6. OKRs needs all hands on deck! 

OKRs build leadership effectiveness by turning managers or leaders into coaches. Coaching is a powerful mix of rapport, active listening, empathy, powerful questioning, probing for clarity, and helping teams to commit to action. Team leaders go from telling/directive management to exploratory/ participative management styles while driving the conversation during OKR check-ins.

Leadership teams can review week on week progress, using powerful and insightful dashboards. 

7. OKRs Retro-reboot 

‍An OKR Retro Reboot meeting is a significant OKR ritual that happens at the end of every quarter. Teams and leadership get together to discuss their progress and learnings of the entire quarter to better strategize for the next quarter.

Teams get together with their learnings and insights to reflect on what went well and how can it be made better during the next quarter. This is the time to analyze results, celebrate success, and celebrate failure! As teams share learnings on prioritization and challenges and update their overall progress, the organization gets an understanding of the vision for the next quarter. This helps reset OKRs for the next quarter.

OKRs Retro reboot does not need to be a day-long meeting, holding teams hostage. They can be fun and inspiring. Check out our repository of games to make your Retros and Reboot memorable. 

 

8. Pin that badge of honor 

Conversations, feedback, and recognition, are truly the sibling of OKRs.  During weekly check-ins, teams exchange feedback and conversations on progress. They highlight wins, setbacks and initiatives that would move a Key Result forward.   

They appreciate those who have helped move the needle forward.  Having a CFRs culture is the cornerstone of making OKRs successful. 

 Fitbots has worked with over 5000 teams in helping them get OKRs right and tracking powerful insights on our OKRs software. Click here to book a call with our OKRs expert on how we can help you get OKRs right, and manage them with powerful insights.  

About the Author

Vidya Santhanam is the Co-Founder of Fitbots OKRs. Having coached 600+ teams, and conducted 1000+ check-in meetings, Vidya likes writing about Metrics, high performance, and leadership.

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