How to run OKR meetings

Why you should run meetings with OKRs

According to online scheduling service Doodle, poorly organized meetings cost $399 billion in the United States in 2019. We know no one wants to be bogged down by useless meetings, especially with “Zoom fatigue” now a very real thing. While we don’t think it’s productive to have meetings when you don’t need them, we also believe company, team and 1:1 meetings that are structured with OKRs can help communication and direction immensely.  

One of the biggest advantages of using the objective and key result framework is the transparency that comes with the method. This method of goal setting makes sure no team is working in a silo, and that everyone is working together toward the company’s most important goals. Part of the process includes productive OKR check-ins and OKR meetings. 

How to hold weekly OKR team meetings/OKR review meetings 

As a best practice for team meetings, we suggest holding weekly meetings that are structured off of the team’s objectives and key results. First, have every team member do an OKR check-in before the meeting so their progress is up-to-date. This is best done at the beginning of the week. For example, have everyone update their OKRs every Monday, and meet to discuss on Tuesday. (Tip: allows you to set an alert with a custom day and time to remind your team to make their check-ins, try here) To make the best use of your time during the meeting, have your team go over goals they are struggling with first. Addressing any at-risk or behind objectives first puts the most important tasks that need to be completed at the forefront. 

(A behind OKR means progress is less than you want currently, but there is a plan or idea on how to get back on track. An at-risk OKR means progress is less than you want, and there is no plan for how to move forward or get back on track.) 

Framing team meetings with OKRs keeps goals top of mind. This way, the meeting doesn’t get sidetracked, and the team can really stay focused on the most important work that needs to get done. Having this meeting sets the tone for the week, and reminds everyone that OKRs should be driving the work that you’re doing, not the other way around. We all know what it’s like when meetings get in the way of actual work being done, so if you’re going to have a meeting with your team, make sure the discussion is meaningful. 

What to discuss during your weekly OKR meetings: 

Overall Progress

  • Discuss check-ins that have been made over the past week 
  • If many objectives have had “nothing new to report” check-ins, this will help identify what’s moving forward and what’s not.

At-Risk/Behind Objectives

  • Identify each of these objectives and with their owner, have an open conversation to understand why they are behind/at risk, what their plan is for the coming week, and if any revisions need to be made.
  • Ideas and feedback from all team members is helpful in this section to formulate plans for getting back on track.

Objectives Going Well

  • Briefly highlight objectives that have positive change in status or percent completion.
  • Praise and kudos are always welcome. It is especially helpful to point out big wins or large percentage increases week over week. 

Revising Objectives

  • If the scope of the objective needs to change or the objective needs to be moved into another time period, have that conversation here. 
  • Look to objective owners for their perspective on what the progress means – for example, does an "At Risk" objective need additional resources allocated, should it be reprioritized, or should it perhaps be revised based on new information?  

Focus for Upcoming Week

  • For each objective and its owner that is incomplete, identify what actions will be taken in the upcoming week to continue progress for the quarter.

Action Items

  • Document any other tasks that need to be completed prior to next week’s meeting.

1:1 meetings

Having a regular OKR review meeting between managers and team members to discuss progress keeps everyone on the same page and communication open. Pick a cadence that works best for you. Some managers may find weekly 1:1 OKR check-ins helpful, while a once-a-month schedule works better for others. If both of you don’t have anything new or any at-risk/behind objectives to discuss, consider communicating via email or Slack/Teams to eliminate unnecessary meeting time. 

Company-wide and leadership meetings 

It’s important for leaders to talk about company goals  at the leadership level and at company-wide meetings. Here’s what we suggest: 

Weekly internal leadership meetings 

Hold a weekly meeting with the department heads to discuss progress across teams. Connecting every department reinforces that OKRs should be top of mind and drive the work being done to help the company reach its goals. Including all team leaders helps eliminate silos and ultimately if there’s issues, they can be addressed more efficiently. At the end of the quarter, use this meeting as an opportunity to go over what went wrong, what went right and what the plan is for the future quarter. 

Weekly company-wide meetings  

Company leaders should also consider holding a regular company-wide meeting at the beginning of the week where leadership can discuss important updates or issues the company is having and give all employees the opportunity to ask questions. This can be a quick 30-minute meeting that is structured by going over progress of the company’s goals for the quarter or another given time period. 

Monthly “town hall” meetings

Consider holding a company-wide meeting once a month that goes further in depth on the state of the company than the weekly meetings. The “state” of the company should be driven by where OKR progress stands. This is also a great opportunity for employees to participate by asking questions and making suggestions.

Consider a weekly “wins” meeting 

Now that you and your team are doing your updates and meetings at the beginning of the week, try checking in as a whole company or team at the end of week to discuss wins. This is a great way to celebrate successes for the week, and also to focus on what’s ahead. Part of OKR goal setting is celebrating when those goals are reached. Take a moment for some recognition to kickstart the weekend! 

Want to learn more about OKR program maturity and how to reach mastery? Click here for more information. 

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