The Biggest Pitfalls of OKRs [And How to Avoid Them]

When used correctly, OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) align employees and provide clarity and focus for executing aggressive company-level goals. But like any other system, OKRs need to be carried out properly to achieve results. If you’re new to OKRs, take a look at this list of OKR pitfalls and how you can avoid them:

1. Some Employees Fall Behind with Updates

The Problem: What makes OKRs so powerful is that, by regularly measuring progress, employees and their teams see how goals are coming along and whether there are any impending bottlenecks. Yet, if employees fail to keep track of their progress, there is no longer team-wide alignment and clarity.

The Solution: Using an OKR Goals software is one way to ensure everyone gets their updates completed. You can also complement this practice with weekly one-on-one check-ins with each of your direct reports. Both give you the opportunity to check in and make sure that progress is taking place. For instance, if you are using quarterly OKRs, employees should be completing about 10% of their OKRs each week.

2. Breaking Down OKRs Becomes Complicated

The Problem: Once you’ve identified your quarterly Objectives as measured by their accompanying Key Results, it can be difficult to distinguish between the actions that must be completed by the end of the quarter and the smaller steps that must be taken to get there. Yet breaking down those larger steps is what makes OKRs achievable, so determining the tasks and tactics needed to get there is crucial.

The Solution: To avoid confusion when defining Objectives, Key Results, tasks, and tactics, managers and employees should first collaborate to identify OKRs. From there, employees can identify their own tasks and tactics that need to be completed on a monthly, and then weekly, basis. You can also encourage each employee to complete his or her own OKR template to further achieve clarity.

3. Alignment Gets Lost Across Departments

The Problem: Company execs and upper management sit down to determine top priorities. They are then cascaded down to become team and individual OKRs. Sometimes, during the process of having OKRs cascade downwards, horizontal alignment across teams and departments is compromised due to miscommunication.

The Solution: Managers should sit down together and collaborate to clearly and specifically define OKRs before meeting with their direct reports. Only then will proper horizontal alignment be achieved, which will create an effective cascading of company goals.

Do you manage a company or teams (either as a CEO, a senior executive, a middle manager or even a front-line manager)? Do you set and track objectives? Does aligning employee performance to business goals matter, and are you responsible for driving results? If so, please check out a live demo of Atiim OKR & Goals Management Software and we’d love to hear what you think about it. Thank you!


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