According to Staples National Small Business Survey, more than 80% out of the surveyed 400 small business owners said they don’t keep track of their business goals. 77% of those same respondents said they have yet to achieve their vision for the company. With these statistics alone, it seems reasonable to state that these two things are linked: tracking and achievement.
Setting goals isn’t the hard part, we all know how easy it is to say we’re going to limit the chocolate and visit the gym more starting on January 1st. But how many of us fall off the wagon come March? Well, the same can be said about business goals – the most challenging part of any goal-setting is sticking to what you’ve set to accomplish, and keeping track of it. To do this successfully, you need to understand what to track, and how to measure it.
OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is more than a goal-setting methodology. It helps you to understand where you’re lagging behind and what to improve – consistently tracking OKRs helps draw your attention to the most important points.
This guide breaks down everything you need to know about the benefits of tracking OKRs. You’ll also learn about how to track OKRs effectively and the tools that will help you maximize your results.
What are OKRs?
Objectives and Key Results is a goal-setting methodology used to facilitate company growth, encourage continuous improvement, and maintain high levels of team engagement.
Objectives are specific goals that a team or company wants to reach. Key Results are the specific metrics used to determine whether or not the team or company is on track toward reaching its Objective.
The OKR system includes two more key components:
- Initiatives: Projects and plans designed to help teams achieve their Objectives
- Weekly Check-ins: Regular meetings to keep track of accomplishments and upcoming plans
Benefits of Tracking OKRs
Most people can answer the question, “why are OKRs important?”
However, what they don’t realize is the importance of tracking Objectives and Key Results, and how to track what really matters. With so many opportunities for improvement, teams often lose track of what makes the highest priority or what will give the quickest win.
That’s where OKR tracking comes in – helping you keep the focus on what will deliver the biggest value to the company without spreading yourself too thin.
Apart from keeping the focus on what to track, there are other noteworthy benefits of OKR tracking to keep in mind:
- Monitor teams’ progress: OKR tracking makes it easier for team leaders to keep up with team members’ progress and make sure they’re moving in the right direction.
- Maintain motivation and engagement: Seeing evidence of their progress can keep team members motivated and helps them to stay engaged on a day-to-day basis.
- Collect data: When you use an OKR tracking tool, you gain a variety of data points you can use to generate reports and share progress with other team leaders and higher-ups.
How to Track OKRs
Tracking OKRs is crucial if you want to enhance the outcome of your work. Regularly tracking OKRs helps teams make more data-driven decisions with each check-in as you’ll gain insight into what to measure, how to measure, and a snapshot of what success looks like for your team at the end of the quarter.
Listed below are 9 best practices for OKR tracking that every team leader ought to know.
1. Write Qualitative Objectives and Quantitative Key Results
Remember, Objectives are qualitative. They should be written in brief, descriptive language that helps you and your team to identify the specific qualities you want to achieve.
For example, you may want to “Launch a world-class product” or “Create a more efficient shipping experience.”
Key Results, on the other hand, are quantitative. They should be written using measurable language that helps you to deliver on your predetermined objectives.
For example, let’s say your Objective is to create a more efficient shipping experience. Your Key Results may include things like: reducing average shipping time to 5 business days or sending 200 email polls to gain insight into the current shipping experience.
2. Decide What Exactly You Are Measuring in Your Key Results
There’s no room for vagueness when you’re creating your team’s Key Results. You need to know exactly what you’re measuring.
You could be measure:
- the number of people who attend an event,
- the percentage by which your email list grows,
- or the number of calls you make to lapsed clients.
The most important thing is that there’s no confusion regarding the data you’re trying to collect.
3. Think of How to Measure OKRs
Once you’ve determined what you’re measuring, your next step is to think about how you’re going to measure.
You need to have a system in place for monitoring progress and keeping track of how close you’re getting toward achieving each of your Objectives — typically in percentages, numbers, or items.
4. Add Initiatives to Drive OKRs
Initiatives are specific projects or larger plans that drive your OKRs forward. You can’t measure Initiatives’ success in numbers but you can definitely see how they impact the progress of your Key Results and help your team to achieve its Objectives.
Examples of Initiatives could be:
- drafting an email newsletter,
- scheduling regular times to call clients,
- upgrading your company’s website design for a better checkout experience.
Essentially, anything your team does to move toward accomplishing its goals falls under the Initiatives umbrella.
5. Connect Objectives, Key Results, and Initiatives
If you and your team want to see the best results from your OKR system, you need to make sure all of your Objectives, Key Results, and Initiatives are aligned.
When you’re writing OKRs, consider whether or not everything connects and builds off of each other. If they don’t, you’re going to have a hard time tracking progress on your OKRs and understanding whether you’re improving or not.
👉 In Weekdone you’re offered an OKR hierarchy view that helps you and your team visualize the company’s OKRs and their alignment across the entire organization. Easily track progress on your OKRs.
6. Make Your OKRs Transparent
A highly effective way to connect your Objectives, Key Results, and Initiatives is to share them with the entire team. Better yet, get various team members in on the process of drafting OKRs to begin with.
The more transparency there is across all teams and team members, the easier it is to measure progress and maintain a sense of accountability. This helps to keep everyone engaged and motivated, too.
7. Create Weekly Plans Right Under OKRs
Creating new plans each week — and updating their status regularly — is another strategy that can ensure everyone keeps track of their OKRs progress and contributes to the quarterly OKRs weekly. If team members always have new plans and Initiatives they’re working on, it’s easier to make sure all team members are on the same page.
Weekdone’s software allows you to add weekly plans directly under your OKRs. This lets you view Objectives, Key Results and Weekly items together with the help of the Objective Dashboard view.
This page provides a bird’s eye view of each Objective, so you can quickly see how team members are progressing toward accomplishing particular Key Results. You can also see at a glance who has made changes or completed Weekly Plans.
8. Update Your OKRs Progress on a Weekly Basis
Make sure you’re updating progress on your OKRs each week, too. Team members should be able to easily check in and see how they’re doing and how close they are to achieving each of their key results (and the guiding objective).
Weekdone makes it easy for you to set up and conduct weekly OKR check-ins with your team. These weekly 15-20 minute check-in meetings provide a place and time for you and your team members to reflect on progress, address any problems that have arisen over the past week, and set new priorities for the coming week.
Weekly check-ins encourage personal responsibility as well. They allow everyone to take ownership of their work and contributions while also receiving beneficial feedback from their co-workers.
9. Hold a Company-Wide Review at the End of the Quarter
At the end of each quarter, hold a company-wide review to celebrate progress, highlight key performance improvements, and share reports illustrating the effectiveness of the OKR methodology — not to mention the impressiveness of your team and their hard work.
Tracking OKRs throughout the quarter — and then hosting a review — makes it easier for everyone to reflect on their performance. They can analyze what they’ve done well and discuss what they want to change in the coming quarter.
Quarterly OKR reviews create more accountability for individuals, teams, and the company as a whole and contribute to a more results-driven culture.
OKR Examples for Tracking
Now that you’ve got the hang of how to track OKRs — and understand why tracking is crucial — it's time to move on to some practical OKR examples. Here are some good OKRs to inspire you and your team:
Objective: Improve the company’s presence on relevant review websites
- KR1: Increase the number of positive brand mentions from 500 to 1,000 in 30 days
- KR2: Increase the number of positive reviews on Yelp from 5 to 10
- KR3: Increase the number of positive Google reviews from 10 to 20
Objective: Improve the company’s process for nurturing relationships with potential customers
- KR1: Increase the number of second meetings we book by 30 percent
- KR2: Improve email response rate from 5 percent to 10 percent
- KR3: Receive at least 40 percent of the lost deals replying to our “why not us?” survey
Objective: Increase the delivery speed of new product features
- KR1: Increase the sprint team’s velocity from 30 to 40 points
- KR2: Reduce the number of bugs per feature from 8 to 4
- KR3: Reduce the average lead time from product feature definition to delivery from 4 to 2 weeks
OKR Tracking Tools
It doesn’t matter if you’re tracking marketing OKRs, sales OKRs, or product OKRs. You need to use the right OKR tracker.
There are two options you can use for OKR tracking: an OKR spreadsheet or an OKR tracking software.
OKR Tracking Template
If you decide to use a standard spreadsheet to track your OKRs, an OKR tracking template will provide a useful guide. It simplifies the process and helps you ensure you’re not forgetting any valuable details.
OKR Tracking Software
Spreadsheets are fine when you’re first getting started with OKRs. However, they’re not as effective as a more in-depth tool with expanded features and a goal tracking dashboard.
An OKR software like Weekdone provides you with a more expansive set of tools for setting OKRs, monitoring progress and scheduling 1:1s and weekly check-in meetings.
This software does all the heavy lifting for you, so you don’t have to manually input all your data with every update. It even generates impressive status reports for team members, team leaders, and other higher-ups in the company.
Final Thoughts on OKR Tracking
OKR tracking is a necessary part of any team’s OKR process.
- OKR tracking makes it easy for you to monitor teams’ progress, maintain motivation and engagement, and collect data for easier reporting.
- Implementing OKR tracking best practices helps you to see better results and gather the greatest amount of data for reporting and progress tracking.
- OKR spreadsheets and OKR software are two popular options for tracking OKRs.
- The best OKR tracking software provides more features and resources for introducing Initiatives, monitoring progress, generating reports, and more.
Check out Weekdone today to experience the benefits of OKRs and quality OKR tracking for your team.