When you want to start getting organic traffic, you would hire an SEO expert. You would not ask a guy from Sales who has read 2 articles on SEO to optimize your website. This same logic applies to implementing OKRs within your company. Reading a couple of books or articles is a good start, but at the end of the day it doesn’t mean you know how everything works in practice. It doesn’t make you an OKR expert, yet. Understanding the main principles is still far off from knowing how to make the changes needed in the company to actually happen.
While OKRs themselves are fairly simple, having your entire company understand OKRs and use best practices isn’t easy. Having an expert guide you on best practices, train your teams and help your entire company implement OKRs in a way that fits your needs will make your OKR experience more likely to succeed and much easier. So let’s take a look at why you will want an OKR coach when you start using OKRs in your business.
OKR coaches save you time (and therefore money)
There are many "roles" and stakeholders in the OKR process, and everyone needs their own type of guidance. If you are a leader, you want everyone to be immediately more aligned and connected to the strategic priorities. If you are an OKR champion, you want everyone to follow the process you put in place, and get support from the team. Different roles have their own challenges and best practice solutions. OKR coaches know the implementation process from different perspectives, and their tips can save you time and effort substantially.
Everyone has their own expectations and needs. An OKR coach can also help you find a healthy balance between what everyone wants and in which order those needs should be fulfilled.
When you are implementing OKRs, you are pursuing ambitious results for your business, and spending time on getting everyone onboard with your OKR thinking might not be the first thing on your list. Unfortunately, OKRs don’t work if people don’t know how to set them or what kind of process helps execute them. That makes managing expectations and organizing workflow crucial if you want to succeed with your OKR implementation. But you don't have to do it alone.
The job and the purpose of an OKR coach is to guide your team to be more aligned and productive, not just to structure your goals in a new way. The value of this guidance is in the step-by-step approach, which is far less overwhelming than trying to absorb everything in a single day. An OKR coach knows the best practices and helps you set up a process that increases the chance of successful implementation drastically. The goal-setting skill has to be exercised and improved over time, and it helps if you know what every next step should be in this process.
Coaches know how to adapt OKRs the right way to fit your needs AND still see the success
The OKR methodology has been around for 50 years, and hundreds of organizations have succeeded and failed continuously over the years. Why take the long road and go through the same mistakes someone has committed already if you can learn from their experience and fast-forward to success?
Good OKR coaches go through at least 6 months of hands-on training with a mentor. Established OKR coaches have years of seeing what works and what doesn’t when it comes to implementing OKRs in all types of industries. They know the main challenges companies face with OKRs. They can help prevent or overcome challenges smoothly and without people losing motivation.
Yes, you could technically learn these same mistakes on your own, but wouldn’t you rather run a successful company than take the trial and error approach to implementing OKRs?
Most companies who take the longer road just give up in the process because hitting every challenge possible is not motivating. Many companies give up saying “OKRs didn’t work for us” but the actual issue is they never managed to set any real OKRs – because they didn’t have an expert there to guide them.
Coaches see blind spots you won’t be able to see yourself
We all have blind spots. Areas that need improvement in OKR usage that we don’t realize need improvement. And it is hard to see these without an OKR coach.
For example, reading a book on how to run fast doesn't mean that the person who reads it will be competing in the Olympics the next day. They still need to practice and train. And they also need a coach who helps them with their technique or where they need improvement.
It is common for leaders to read a book or two on OKRs, and then implement OKRs. They, of course, are implementing OKRs in the way that they know best. Otherwise they wouldn’t do it that way. But if they don’t know the difference between OKRs and KPIs, for example, they won’t even realize that having a KPI as a Key Result isn’t ideal. Or if they don’t understand the difference between outputs and outcomes, they will teach teams to set Key Results that are just plans and projects – which may or may not drive business value. It goes against the whole purpose of OKRs. But if you don’t know that this is not how you should do things, how can you improve?
As humans, we simply don’t know what we don’t know. And it’s okay. That's why people hire experts. Without a coach, you won’t be able to learn the things you are doing wrong because you won’t be able to see them.
Easier for people to get coaching from an outside source
I was an OKR champion in the last company I worked at. When we started implementing OKRs across the company level, I realized that an OKR coach was needed because I could see that the leadership team did not completely understand some of the basics of OKR methodology. When I tried to explain to them that KRs shouldn’t be projects or tasks, but measurable outcomes, there was a lot of “yeah, yeah, but” being said.
I wasn’t part of the leadership team, I was just a senior member of marketing. And I wasn’t an OKR expert myself, I had just used OKRs in the past, had gotten coaching on how to implement them, and had a passion for the OKR methodology.
When people in the company have access to a coach, suddenly they are a lot more open to actual coaching. They are aware that coaches are OKR experts who live and breathe OKRs every day. It makes more sense to listen to them than to an employee who has some experience with OKRs.
When people are open to coaching, they are more likely to actually hear the advice given and take action on that advice. After all, if this wasn’t the case why would they speak to the coach in the first place?
Why does Weekdone offer unlimited coaching?
We understand that implementing OKRs and making them feel a part of the regular process of work takes time. Usually 2-3 quarters, even with an OKR coach.
3rd party coaching can be really expensive, and small or medium-sized businesses generally don’t have the extra budget for an outside OKR consultant.
There are always the options of training an employee to become an OKR coach, but this takes time. So many work hours are used up, not only for training, but for actually coaching teams. And the real question is, will the teams even listen? I’ve seen team leads completely ignore the advice of an in-house OKR coach because it didn’t fit their narrative – and how much experience can an in-house OKR coach have after 2 days of training?
Weekdone is more than an OKR software. Yes, we want companies to use our software to easily measure the progress of their OKRs. But if you don’t see the value that OKR methodology brings, you won’t stick around long. We know that we can provide the quickest learning curve and help companies implement OKR best practices so they can reap all the benefits OKRs have to offer.