Wondering if your company is OKR ready?

What To Do When Your OKRs Aren’t Working?

23 July, 2022
4 mins

To have a successful business you need to have goals to look forward to in your business, and then propose ways to accomplish those. For this, some of the top-notch businesses in the world have incorporated OKRs (Objective and Key Results) in their organization. This renowned system of goal-establishing has been in the business world for years now. 

OKRs Aren't Working

The implementation of OKRs does not depend on the size of the company is, but rather on, whether the company wants to improve the performance and productivity level of its business. 

As John Doerr states, “OKRs are a shared language for execution. They clarify expectations: What do we need to get done (and fast), and who’s working on it? They keep employees aligned, vertically and horizontally.” 

The secret ingredients behind a successful OKR are, that it should be significant, concrete towards what is to be achieved, action and outcome-oriented, without forgetting to be inspirational. 

However, there are many instances of OKRs failing in organizations. It’s a fact that OKR is a promising framework in the world of business, but despite that OKRs can collapse drastically if not implemented in the right manner. For OKRs to be successful it has some requirements and implications. 

The amount of failures in OKRs is one of the major reasons why companies are apprehensive about adopting OKR management. Are you one of them? Check out our latest newsletter to learn more about the concerns organizations are facing in adopting OKRs and how you can resolve it.

Why does OKR fail in organizations?

OKR needs proper attention towards plan and execution for it to be successful in business companies. If this is not done, companies end up witnessing failures in their OKR culture. To have a successful OKR management culture in your workplace, your OKR should be attainable and well-defined. Also, OKR promotes a teamwork culture, so prioritize clarity within your organization for better practice.

Here are some of the major causes why OKR fails in organizations. 

a. Not treating OKR management as a strategic management system.

b. Delay in addressing the issues faced by employees

c. Not indulging in writing measurable KRs

d. Your KRs are more like KPIs

e. Your Objectives are projects

f. You are not focusing on pursuing a quarterly cycle

Let’s understand these grounds in more detail.

First, OKR is not specifically designed for a new way of measuring activities, but rather for developing aspirational goals and key results to accomplish those objectives.

Second, regular check-in is what OKR promotes in organizations. It ensures that every employee’s issues are taken care of to attain the results without any hassle. Delay in addressing these issues might delay the outcomes expected which eventually can lead to failure of the OKRs in your organization.

Third, OKR ensures every team can deliver noticeable changes that can be quantified and measured throughout the quarter. OKR promotes transparency, and so measurable KR provides clarity on proximity to success, along with context for bringing up issues for everyone who owns that OKR. 

Fourth, KPI is used to evaluate the performance of an organization, employee, team, or project over a period of time while OKR is used to collaborate and achieve stretch objectives through a framework that promotes regular check-ins, constant development, and constructive feedback, and troubleshooting.

Fifth, objectives are meant to be achievable within a certain period of time. Projects usually take a long time to be completed. They are more like missions. For OKR it is certainly not the case. O in OKR describes what you want and what you want to achieve. 

Sixth, OKRs promote a quarterly cycle, though annual fine too. OKRs define the measurable actions you’ll take towards acquiring those goals. Quarterly goals help in achieving objectives that will help focus the team and are linked to quarterly company objectives. 

Other reasons for OKR management failure include:

a. setting and forgetting OKRs

b. not aligning them with what your company needs

c. being too aggressive or too lenient with KR targets/not knowing your current baseline and not optimizing for that

d. not getting buy-in from the team that will be executed – if they’re not convinced, it won’t work. 

So what to do when your OKR Management isn’t working?

Obviously, mistakes are a way of learning, however, you can’t wait for mistakes first and then learn, when you know you can learn and do better. But let’s see what you should do when your OKR management isn’t working as you want them to. 

a. Clarify the goals– be clear and transparent to your employees about changing from the plan is driven culture to an outcome-driven one.

b. Financial allocation– identify the challenges that you will come across in this outcome-driven culture and examine your funding and budget models to help you out.

c. Plan for framework transitions– before implementing OKR ensure you workout out the possibilities of risks and issues along with how to take forward with a transition within the company.

d. Demonstrate OKRs practicality– create organizational OKRs and give demonstrations on how to work and be successful. Motivate teams to achieve OKRs that drive the OKR management culture within your organization. 

What can you do to make the implementation of OKR successful in your organization?

1. Every team leader or organization manager should engage and dedicate themselves to making OKR management successful. 

2. Once you are committed, carry out these steps:

a. Hire a consultant and OKR expert to help you train your employees.

b. Build an OKR management champion within your organization who will help in the drive.

c. Integrate OKR management as your organization’s investiture program. 

When implemented correctly, the OKR tools are highly effective. To ensure that you get the OKR management framework successfully embraced by your organization, get in touch with us today!