Red Flags To Look Out For While Implementing OKRs

OKR Management is a method of measuring a company’s progress toward its desired objectives. Using the OKR management does more than only elevating and growing your organization to a new level. They are the objectives your organization intends to accomplish over a specified period of time. Equipping your organization with an OKR tool has become highly significant in today’s time. It allows organizations to track their progress over time and support them in moving towards the desired outcomes. 

Implementing OKRs

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It is highly crucial to comprehend that the okr management framework is not just a single activity but a whole system. The best manner to understand this is to think of it as driving a vehicle that moves on four wheels. In order to get the best results from the OKR Software, you have to ensure that all of these four wheels are operating in a coordinated manner throughout the journey. In addition to this, for ensuring that your organization enjoys a smooth ride, you have to look out for red flags that can pop up in these four areas. If they do, you have to address them in a proper manner to ensure that you implement okr tool in a successful manner. 

1. Planning red flags

a. Too many or too few O’s and KR’s

For a company/department/individual, 3-4 objectives with 3-5 essential results are ideal to ensure a successful implementation of the OKR Software. On one extreme, you may have fewer objectives and fewer critical results per objective. On the other hand, you can have a lot of goals or several critical results for each target.

First and foremost, this contradicts the attention principle. One of the most critical components of OKR is focus; if you have too many OKRs, you will have a diluted focus. As a result, you won’t have time to focus on them. Too little, on the other hand, is more of a commitment issue and not really an issue related to focus. 

b. Unaligned or Misaligned OKRs

Unaligned OKRs may indicate lost effort, but not always. After a few planning meetings, you develop your company OKRs. The next-level departments should establish and implement an okr management framework depending on what they need to do to assist the organization as a whole achieve the corporate OKRs. Unaligned OKRs are not an issue in and of themselves, but if you only have unaligned OKRs, you have a problem.

Misaligned OKRs indicate turmoil and disarray. It’s critical to foster a culture of clarity and alignment that should be specifically demonstrated. Anyone who looks at the two OKRs should be able to see the connection without much explanation. Otherwise, the apparent alignment would really be a distraction.

c. Lack of buy-in from dependent KRs

Different business departments in a firm rely on one another to achieve the organization’s overall goal. Dependencies are more evident in more extensive and dispersed organizations, and the requirement to appropriately discuss, define, and agree on obligations is much greater. So, you have to ensure that this dependency is clearly grasped by everyone and are committed enough to work on attaining their OKRs. 

2. Execution red flags

a. Lack of Check-In Discipline

The first one is the lack of check indiscipline. This may appear to be a minor issue, yet it is the most often reported issue by the majority of organizations. When organizations inquire about how to implement OKRs. they frequently ask about checking in the discipline. It is very important that each and everyone takes check-ins with utmost seriousness. Make sure that you have check-ins consistently and that everyone gives supporting information on what was attained, what was not attained and how are they planning to fix the concerns. 

b. Inadequate resourcing

Resourcing refers to various resources, not simply human resources, such as inadequacy. Every resource must be comprehended and studied. If you have a limitless supply of every help you require, you wouldn’t need to have OKRs. But we all know that isn’t the case. Understanding what you have in your hands, where you need to go, and how the resources you have in your hands can take you there is critical. There will always be limitations. But there must be a way to go where you want to go with what you have. 

c. Lack of innovation

Lack of innovation might be considered a certain kind of resource problem. However, you may also have stringent processes that force innovation out of the system. Lack of creativity might thus be a cultural, personnel, or process issue. But the main conclusion is that if you lack innovative thinking, you have a big problem in front of you that needs to be addressed on priority. 

d. Unaddressed bottlenecks

Bottlenecks exist in business operations. Unaddressed bottlenecks are a significant process concern. Your employees get moving but are hampered by a slew of hurdles or bottlenecks they cannot overcome independently. They require assistance from someone else, such as management or other departments, to get things rolling again. This will significantly impede execution. Bottlenecks will influence results; if they are not addressed, you will be left confused with using the okr tool.

e. Change in priorities

Change in priorities is absolutely normal and not really a problem in itself. The issue is not realizing that the priorities have changed and therefore the set okrs need to be revamped. An ideal method to manage this would be to generate new OKRs to reflect the change in priority, push the current ones you’re working on into backlog mode, and then bring them back when appropriate. If we frequently see that the priorities are not fully reflected in OKRs, leading to the incorrect conclusion, then the OKR software is not operating correctly.

3. Engagement red flags

a. Lack of Discipline

When you go through the rigorous procedure of establishing the okrs only to blatantly ignore them for the rest of the quarter, you are better off without okr tools. On the engagement side, it is even more critical for the owners of objectives and key results to work hard and remain disciplined. You may have commitment concerns with OKRs or the outcomes that someone is expected to provide. But you must be concerned as well. This problem will be prominent and easily remedied if you have a robust tracking method and system. This is why discipline is highly necessary when the organization decides to use the okr management framework

b. Fault finding, not fact-finding reviews

The regular assessments are primarily concerned with the quantitative aspect of your procedure, and let us now examine the qualitative part of the reviews. There might be multiple methods for doing your evaluations. However, if you make the review process overly focused on flaws and finger-pointing, it will dampen the enthusiasm and encourage sandbagging.

The evaluations should identify and remove bottlenecks, dependencies, and other roadblocks so the team can drive forward. Always aim to recognize and aid in resolving resource constraints. 

c. Not celebrating successes

The Okr tool enables you to foster a favorable positive work environment easily. The best way to do so is to start celebrating small milestones and successes. Perhaps initiating your week or larger meetings with some celebration around celebrating the progress of certain key results would be incredibly motivating for everyone involved. Recognizing the efforts encourages everyone and underlines the concept that results are essential for getting recognized and appreciated. 

d. Inadequate support from the team

The involvement of management and the KR owners in attaining the objective is no doubt very critical. However, if additional team members assist the KR owners in achieving the necessary objectives, they become an essential element of the whole equation. To guarantee that your OKRs are met, you must develop a mechanism to ensure that the supporting staff understands and fulfills their responsibilities.

It is critical to understand the supporting cast’s role in achieving your OKRs and to ensure that you first obtain their commitment and fully grasp what they are expected to deliver.

4. Learning red flags

a. No systematic way to capture learning

Learning is the area that is not really touched in a lot of implementation of okrs. Although you should be focused on attaining the objective, you should not ignore the prospect of learning and grow at the same time. It is important to have such a culture where everyone is focused on attaining their objective as well as developing themselves throughout the process. 

b. No formal ways to share lessons learned

You should have a robust system for sharing lessons learned with suitable colleagues, and they should be able to collaborate and exemplify your learnings. They should be able to benefit from the lessons learned and the knowledge gained by you. You must support events such as knowledge-sharing meetings or brown bag sessions to discuss successes, failures, and failure learnings. 

It is important to understand how to recognize the presence of these red flags and address them on priority if your organization has been experiencing them. For more proficient assistance regarding the okr management framework, reach out to us here! 

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Gaurav Sabharwal


Gaurav is the CEO of JOP (Joy of Performing), an OKR and high-performance enabling platform. With almost two decades of experience in building businesses, he knows what it takes to enable high performance within a team and engage them in the business. He supports organizations globally by becoming their growth partner and helping them build high-performing teams by tackling issues like lack of focus, unclear goals, unaligned teams, lack of funding, no continuous improvement framework, etc. He is a Certified OKR Coach and loves to share helpful resources and address common organizational challenges to help drive team performance. Read More

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