How to update your OKRs

4 minutes

Updating OKRs 

Defining objectives and key results is just the beginning of your OKR journey as a manager. One of the best ways to encourage and track a sense of progress with your team is in how you update your team’s OKR’s. While the objective should stay the same, key results are updated continually throughout the quarter.

These updates are important for a few key reasons:

  1. They provide transparency to your peers and can save time and energy in wondering what other teams are working on and why.
  2. They contribute to a sense of meaningful progress. Research from Teresa Amabile at Harvard Business School found that making progress on a meaningful goal is the single biggest contributor to employee motivation. Research from the University of Sheffield also found that monitoring and sharing progress publicly increases the chances of attaining the goal.

Our OKR update cadence

  1. Step One: Beginning of each quarter: Draft and review your team’s OKR’s and your own
  2. Step Two: Weekly team meeting: Give constructive feedback and praise related to OKR’s, and discuss schedules and resources.
  3. Step Three: Weekly Updates: use the inputs from your team meeting to do a weekly update in your tracker
  4. Step Four: Monthly Department Head meeting: Present the progress towards quarterly KR’s, showcase OKR-related initiatives
  5. Step five: End of each quarter: Executive team update. Score and give an update on your teams OKR’s

This Pyn discusses steps 2-4.

Step 2: weekly team meeting 

Ask your team to update their KR’s in your tracker before each meeting: (1) update the score (if changed), (2) indicate their confidence level, and (3) provide a little context on its progress. Confidence levels are tracked by selecting one of the following responses. If there is no change they should still provide context.

No need for a long meeting. Make it short, straight to the point, and useful. 30 minutes or less will do. Note: limit how often you ask your employees for updates. Once a week will do! The more updates you ask your team to do, the less time they will have to work on their goals - or the less value they will see in the updates because they are rushed to focus on deliverables.

The purpose is to ensure fast feedback loops. It’s ok for KR’s to not be on track. Ask your team these three questions:

  1. Where are we today?
  2. How does that compare to expectations?
  3. Do we need to do anything differently?

The most important component of the meeting is not the KR number/score but the discussion that follows because of it. As you get closer to the end of the quarter when you will be scoring your OKR’s, be sure to pay close attention to any roadblocks getting in the way.

Step 3: weekly updates

Please update your OKR’s on a weekly basis even if you don’t have any progress to report. Use inputs from your team meeting to inform.

  1. Update the actual value on your team’s KR’s tracker. Let’s say your key result is “increase customer satisfaction rate to 90%” and your number last week was 65. If your number has changed, you can update it. Or skip this step if there’s no change.
  2. Write a short note giving more context on why there is, or isn’t, progress on KR’s.
  3. Adjust your confidence level (either: on track, needs attention, at risk). Based on how the KR is progressing, what are the chances of making the target? Provide context on roadblocks

Step 4: monthly department head meeting 

Each month is an opportunity to present the progress towards quarterly KR’s and showcase OKR-related initiatives with department heads. Much like the weekly team meeting, the main intent here is to remove roadblocks.

Be sure to update your Key Results at least 2 days before the meeting in [this] document and be prepared to present about their status using the same confidence level metrics:

There will also be 30 minutes set aside to share quick wins, updates, and blockers on OKR related initiatives. Be sure you are rotating the projects and individuals you highlight.

Credits: Photo by @alexander_tsang on Unsplash.