OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) require sponsorship, executive commitment, and the discipline to see it through. Amen!
Once you have your OKRs in place, vertically and bi-directionally aligned, you would need a set of rituals to track and manage progress week on week, quarter on quarter. In this article, we will explore the role of leaders in an OKRs rollout, the dashboards which would help conduct effective reviews, and how to coach teams using insights.
To conduct effective leadership reviews, leadership teams need to be familiar with the following:
A) 5-Second dashboard
B) Week-on-week Trends Board
C) Insights on KR Progress with CFRs and Alignment Boards
D) Managing Initiatives and Milestones linked to a KR
E) Asking powerful questions to drive progress
Let's dive into these after a brief recap of OKRs.
- OKRs are a strategy execution framework, that helps leaders and teams connect the dots and bridge the gap between Company direction, and efforts placed by teams
- They focus on the vital few, rather than the trivial many
- OKRs are not a Business as Usual set of activities or metrics. They align to company strategy and focus on metrics that give business velocity
- Leadership teams play a vital role in OKRs. They are the Ambassadors, who take OKRs into meeting conversations and reviews, and coach teams for progress
- Leadership team members also are a part of Check-in reviews, Mid Quarter reviews on OKRs, and one of the most important rituals of OKRs retro reboot, which is conducted at the end of 90 days to reset OKRs to the new quarter
On average, a company manages more than 78 KPIs and data from disparate sources. Think about it as casting a net, and measuring every single KPI that exists. OKRs place the spotlight on ‘focus’, zooming in on the most important metrics that move a business forward.
By having access to the most critical metrics, leaders can make real-time, informed decisions on where and how to coach teams to progress.
We also call this the Company dashboard, which gives an emotive and quantitative view of the business.
There are two types of progress graphs that add value during a Leadership review:
a) The Overall Metric progress - This is a cumulative view of all Company OKRs, and how they are progressing.
b) The overall confidence Index - Confidence index in OKRs is like the front view mirror. It is a call out of emotions by each Key Result Owner, on ‘How likely they will be to achieve OKRs at the end of the quarter.'
When the overall confidence level is Red, Amber, or Green, leadership teams can course correct their coaching styles to support teams accordingly.
Red - Indicates KR at risk and that there's a blocker that needs to be
Amber - Less likely to achieve a KR, however, we do have a way to move it forward
Green - Going great, we’re going to beat that 70% mark before the end of the quarter
As you skim through the 5-second view, the KRs are going well and Leading Teams also show up. The leader board is an indicator of the interim movement of the needle, and which metrics need attention earlier than later.
OKRs are all about progress. Not Quarter on Quarter, but Week on Week.
Let's briefly discuss the best practice around writing 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!
A swivel over to the Org OKRs, in the menu, will show a snapshot of all OKRs. During leadership reviews, insights are most relevant, and walking through the Trends board will give powerful insights on Week on Week progress for each metric.
In this example of a company, which has OKRs at risk, you can clearly see the delta between required progress and actual progress. The Confidence Index also seems to be a blinking RED. Leadership teams can walk over specific Key Results which have stalled Week on Week on progress and have coachable conversations with team members.
It's not always smooth sailing. In the example below, there is a clear display of Key Results which stalled progress for two weeks! Ouch! This is a cue for leadership teams to find blockers and support teams.
Especially when managing hybrid teams, one may not be able to meet all in person, all the time. The fastest way to share feedback or coach teams would be to place a check-in.
Leadership teams can zone in on a specific Key Result, click on the call out ‘CFRs’ or Conversations, feedback, and Recognition, and place a comment for the team to consider.
During Reviews, if we need to double click on a specific KR blinking RED, and zone in on which team needs support, and which Metric contributes to the Key Result moving or not moving forward, one can use the KR to KR alignment boards to have these quick views.
Having coached 1000s of teams on OKRs, alongside our OKRs software, we've learned that is important for teams to make mindful choices on their initiatives or experiments that can move a metric ahead.
Click on a specific Key Result, and view all initiatives which the owner of a Key Result has set, to move a metric forward.
Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted.
- (Attributed to Albert Einstein)
Rightly said. There’s more to OKRs than just making the business metrics and initiatives move. At the end of the hour, it is all about people.
Here is a list of coach-led questions, that Leadership teams can build in during reviews:
In this article, we explored the best practices in conducting data-driven leadership reviews, without having hours of power points put together by teams. The real-time insights, easy access to Key Results at risk, or zoning on ‘Where does the problem really lie’ on click, can get Leadership reviews sharper and more effective on time.
Fitbots has worked with over 5000 teams in helping them get OKRs right and tracking powerful insights on our OKRs software.
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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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