How to run OKR reviews
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 and reviews 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
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: Ally.io 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:
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.
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.
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.
Document any other tasks that need to be completed prior to next week’s meeting.
Allow our OKR experts to help you for FREE
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. If you are going to meet, make sure team members come prepared to the meeting with updates on their OKRs. Whether it’s an update on a key result, project or task, make sure you’re providing the most updated numbers and information related to the OKR. Use this meeting to also add context regarding the progress of the OKR and whether you’re on track, behind or if the OKR is at-risk.
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!
Allow our OKR experts to help you for FREE
Monthly OKR reviews
Monthly OKR reviews are a bit more formal and may include stakeholders from leadership and/or other teams and departments. The focus of these meetings should be on reviewing behind or at-risk OKRs, with an emphasis on blockers and what actions can correct the course of the OKR. Schedule these meetings in advance to give employees proper notice to prepare. Before the meeting, OKRs should be updated with commentary and with everyone prepared to discuss the at-risk or behind OKRs.
End of quarter review
At the end of the quarter, it’s important to take the time to reflect on how individuals, teams and the company did at achieving their goals.
Some questions to ask :
- How well did we do at achieving our goals?
- Were our goals well-aligned?
- Did we capture all dependencies?
- Were there any mid-quarter changes we didn’t anticipate? If yes, why?
End of cycle review and scoring
At the end of an OKR cycle, assess your progress based on the goal and assign a score using a scale of 0.0 - 1.0. When scoring, take into consideration if the goal was aspirational or committed.
If you are an individual contributor, review your OKRs and make sure to share your notes with your manager during a 1:1 discussion to get their feedback.
If you’re a team manager, make sure to have 1:1 discussions with each of your team members to review their OKRs and give your feedback. You should assess and score their OKRs and share with your team members why you gave them the score you did. This is also a good opportunity for team members to provide their feedback as well. This should be a two-sided conversation where both the manager and team member feel comfortable talking openly about how the OKR went and what lessons can be applied to the next period’s objectives.
Some OKRs, especially stretch goals, will not be completed by the end of a specific time period. Evaluate that goal and see if it is still relevant and attainable for the next period. If it is, roll over the objective to the new period.
Kick off planning for next cycle and rollover
And just like before, planning begins again. Identify any rollover OKRs and prioritize based on other priorities. Validate any adjustments made to company-level priorities and draft teams level OKRs. Hold a meeting to discuss, review and finalize, and work with employees to draft their personal OKRs. Lastly, approve those OKRs and add to your OKR tool.
Allow our OKR experts to help you for FREE
How to make OKRs stick
Continuous feedback from employees to teams, and teams to senior leadership is an important part of the OKR progress and building transparency. Progress should be shared on a regular cadence, typically defined at the beginning of the year. You can do this by defining a rhythm that works well for your business and team, schedule meetings and reviews at the beginning of the year or quarter and clearly communicate planning cadence and set expectations.
Commitment is key
The success of an OKR program will depend on key stakeholders, who should be fully bought in and committed to using the framework effectively. Leaders should make sure there are no knowledge or process gaps and that everyone has been trained on how the OKR framework works. Communicate and celebrate progress and wins, and encourage a culture of focus, accountability, autonomy and transparency. OKRs, if done correctly, should show employees how they are contributing and how their work matters.
The OKR framework is more than just a goal management method, it also allows for a cultural shift to a more transparent and focused organization, with everyone aligned, from the CEO down to individual employees.