An OKR (objective and key result) framework is a simple, effective, and easy way to set the direction for individuals, teams, and companies. It’s also a very flexible tool with endless use cases. However, while it is a powerful process, it can also lead to some of the most common mistakes made in implementation. I have collated the most significant of these to create this post on what not to do when setting your own OKRs.

Here are the main mistakes to avoid when creating your OKRs:

1. Not having clear objectives

“I don’t think I can answer that question” is the most common response I hear to the above question. The main reason is they do not have clear objectives set. It’s easy to see why, when you consider a majority of companies are still trying to figure out what their objectives should be in the first place.

So how can you work out if your objectives are clear enough? Here are some questions you can ask yourself: Does everyone on the team understand what we’re trying to achieve? Do they know how we’re going to measure this? Is everyone clear on what success looks like? Are they able to articulate that clearly? If people cannot answer these questions then it’s more than likely that your objectives are not clear enough. This can easily be overcome by taking a step back and asking yourself the following: What does success look like for my company? What does success look like for my team? What does success look like for me?

Once you’ve answered these questions, write them down and make sure that everyone has one version or another of this written down either as an objective, an annual goal, a statement of purpose or something similar. Then make sure that both you and your team revisit these answers on a regular basis.

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2. Not creating a balance between high-level and concrete objectives

The strength of OKRs is their use of concrete goals. But they can also be a problem if used in an unbalanced way, no matter how strategically important they may be.

The most common mistake is creating high-level goals without any specific steps to achieve them. Without actionable goals, you’re not putting your teams in a position to succeed and you’re setting yourself up for failure as well.

Another common mistake is failing to create specific enough metrics for each goal. You’ll notice I didn’t say create vague metrics – this really depends on your context and specific situation. If you don’t have enough data or resources to make a more concrete metric, then it’s fine to create a broader one, but you need to realize the tradeoffs involved with doing so.

3. Not prioritizing objectives correctly

If you don’t know how to prioritize, you’ll quickly find yourself spinning in circles. You’ll get overwhelmed by trying to juggle all of your OKRs at the same time and end up not doing anything meaningful.

You need a system for tracking your goals, but also for making sure that you’re keeping the right goals on track. If you’re not prioritizing correctly, you could be sidetracked by irrelevant objectives.

So let’s take a look at some of the problems that can hamper your progress and the solutions you need to keep moving forward.

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4. Focusing on goals instead of objectives

What is the difference between goals and objectives?

Goals are statements of the results you want to achieve. An objective describes a specific, measurable, achievable and realistic result that needs to be accomplished in order to achieve the goal. For example, “we want to increase sales by 20% next year” is a goal. “We need to set up a new sales strategy in order to increase sales by 20%” is an objective.

A goal is more general and abstract, while an objective is more concrete and actionable. It’s important that you have both. When you say that you are going to increase sales by 20%, what do you mean exactly? By what methods? How will you measure your progress? Without more details on your goals, it’s hard for everyone else to know how they can help you reach them**

5. Not keeping people informed about the progress made in achieving their objectives

A key mistake that organizations make when they start using OKRs is not keeping people informed about the progress made in achieving their objectives and how this translates into business results. You need to be transparent about your objectives, key results and the performance of your employees so that everyone can understand what’s going on and take pride in what they are doing.

The first step is to have an open dialogue with your People. Let them know what kind of support they will get from you if they perform well. Share the objectives with your team, let them know why these are important, and come up with some good examples of key results that will help them achieve those objectives.

The second step is to communicate the progress made towards achieving the key results. Set up a regular monthly 1-on-1 meeting with each person in your team, so you can catch them up on how their performance relates to the team’s OKRs as a whole. This will give you an opportunity to give feedback and highlight anything you might be worried about, or areas where you think they could do better.

You should also make sure everyone has easy access to their own OKRs, so they can track their own progress at any time. And check in from time to time with individual contributors who may be more

Conclusion

As with any new thing in life, the first approach to it can be nerve-wracking. And this is something that you can probably relate to, especially if you are working on creating your first OKR structure. However, a bit of preparedness can go a long way. We put together this infographic on the main pitfalls you need to watch out for when launching your OKRs. Hopefully, we can make it easier for you to launch an effective implementation of OKRs in your organization. If some of these mistakes seem to apply to your current situation and you are looking for a way out, definitely take a look at our tool Organizefy!

For OKR consulting, get in touch with us today.