Monitoring

How often should you check OKRs?

You’ve defined the company objectives. Individual goals have been created. Everybody knows what to focus on and are hard at work. What do you need to keep your eyes on?

Goals aren't set and forget. It's important to keep on top of what's going on and spot bottlenecks. Note that this advice isn't new - you should listen to your team and proactively address problems. Good management still applies when your structure runs with goals. However, here we're trying to spot systemic problems that are harder to notice by only talking to your direct reports.

What to check?

If you were able to identify a metric that measures the success of your company objective, use that. Sometimes you either can't come up with a good metric or it doesn't change significantly during the course of the goal period. For instance, your bookings might not move until the end of the quarter or customer satisfaction may only be measured once per quarter.

In that case, an overall progress chart can show you the evolution of your company objectives over time. Since individual and team goals cascade from them, it captures progress across the organization.

A cursory look will tell you a lot. Is there something that looks unusual? Oh yeah that dip is the team’s vacation. That bump is the release of the new product. Compare to past performance to see if a change is out of the ordinary.

goal-progress
An example of aggregated company goal progress in Workfuze!

If you don't have an automated way to compute progress of your company objectives, you can have each department head come up with an estimated progress each week and simply compute the average. It becomes a little tedious when your organization is larger but is better than flying in the dark.

Check but don't obsess

You don't need to check goals more often than weekly for quarterly or monthly goals. Maybe on Monday morning while your inbox is still manageable. Right before a management meeting. Whenever. Just do it regularly.

But don’t do it every day. Most likely, employees will be checking in on their goals weekly. Goals are not to-do lists. They guide employees' actions but do not detail them.

Check at every level you can act on: executives will keep an eye on company objectives, managers on direct reports and team goals, employees on their own goals and their team's.

I'm not advocating to only look at these goals but you rolled up/cascaded goals for a reason and as far as checking global process this will be enough in 90% of the cases.

What to do if goals aren't on track?

If goal setting is new to your organization, you probably won't set targets right the first time unless you already had some metric tracking process in place. It'll take you 2-3 runs to hone it.

A high-level objective behind is unlikely to be due to a single individual. Spot which team(s) is/are having difficulties:

Don’t forget to communicate your findings. Employees are eager to hear about company results. It’s good for morale to see that the numbers that employees can affect are important to management.