Common mistakes when using OKRs
There is no one right way for adopting OKRs in your organization. A good guideline is to not just do what others do, but to do what works for your organization. Common sense and assessing your organization’s real capabilities and maturity is key. Appropriate readiness as well as strong involvement from management is needed. One core idea of OKRs is to be innovative, transformative and iterative. You won’t get it right the first or second time. That’s the whole idea. Adopting OKRs is an adoption journey that will drive your organization to grow and improve.
It is however possible to learn from common mistakes and pains, and going through basic do’s and don’ts from lessons learned by others might help you and your organization prepare for the learning journey.
What are the common mistakes?
- Introducing OKR as a silver bullet → Introduce OKR as a vegetable.
OKR is not a magical cure, rather a discipline. It only starts working once the habits are learned.
- Rushing the process of setting OKRs → Take time to figure out what matters.
- Using OKRs to measure everything → Use OKRs to build, improve and innovate.
Common pains and complaints relate to taking OKRs into use
“Our OKRs are not taking off as expected.” This is a collaborative effort, don’t leave the transformation to HR or individual team heads. Ensure support and necessary resources. Make the CEO accountable.
“OKR is too rigid for us.” Remember to tailor the framework to your organization. Do not just implement what is trendy at the moment. Give your people time to learn during the systematical follow up process and iterative alignment cycles.
Some complain about “OKRs creating too much overhead”. Well, you should always keep it simple and remove obstacles. For this a digital tool where the OKRs can be easily followed and reviewed helps drive accountability.
“Our people hate ambitious and stretched targets”. Then simply just ditch stretched OKRs. With a great strategy and by letting your employees set their individual and team targets in accordance with it you will do good. But there is a point in reaching for the moon, it does drive out of the box thinking which is crucial for finding innovative solutions.
So, what to do? The Do’s.
Set your targets high. Studies show that difficult goals correlate with increased performance, while too easy ones are de-motivating. Set your OKR goals higher than the average result to get above average results.
Give your employees the freedom to set their own targets with the company strategy in mind. Your people know best, what they are capable of, increasing target accuracy. You also build trust and accountability into peoples’ work
Arrange weekly follow-up of OKRs. Regularly coming back to OKRs keeps work aligned to strategy – and to notice deviations early. This also makes the progress visible and motivates people.
And the Dont’s. What not to do when taking OKRs into use?
Don’t cascade OKRs down in a waterfall. Setting goals from the management denies ownership from one’s work, resulting in lower performance and motivation among your people.
Creating vague OKR with abstract measures is not beneficial. If you can’t log OKR status after looking at one metric, it is too difficult to implement in daily processes.
You shouldn’t tie your bonus systems to OKR. Rewarding completion of OKR promotes falsification of results, decreases solution quality by haste and makes reliable alignment impossible.
Most importantly, don’t just do what others do, do what works for you. Regardless if you choose to use ORKs or some other objectives management system, you should tailor the use to fit your organization and the goals you are trying to achieve.
At Fingertip we have realized that every organization is different. Our digital tool is not bound to only the OKRs but is highly flexible. We have also established that objectives need to be a part of the daily activities to be efficient. Fingertip integrates objectives to your decision making, meetings, planning and activities.
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