Everything you need to know about OKR cycles

by Gill Arnott | Jun 25, 2021

time icon 3 mins

So, you’ve decided to use the OKR framework as your goal-setting methodology and you’re ready to start your first OKR cycle. But what does this entail?

OKR cycles can vary for different organisations as everything should be tailored to meet the specific needs of a business. But in general, most will follow the same pattern. We go into this in more detail in this article…

What does a typical OKR cycle look like?

A typical OKR cycle will include the rollout of OKRs once planned, the creation of an action plan for teams to follow, regular check-ins, and final reflections.

1. Roll out OKRs:

People are what drive OKRs. Therefore, it is the people that should create them. Communicate company objectives then allow departments and teams to develop their own OKRs and share. Working this way instead of a top-down approach will allow for higher involvement and dedication.

2. Create Action Plans

Once the OKRs are created, it’s time to develop action plans that provide details around how the team will achieve these objectives. Careful and considered OKR planning will help you to bring those big dreams to life. 

3. Regular check-ins

To ensure that OKRs don’t just become goals that are forgotten, regular check-ins are vital. Once rolled out, employees should measure their progress throughout the cycle to keep teams aligned and on track.

It’s generally best to carry out OKR reviews on a weekly basis. This will help you to spot any problems before it’s too late.

4. Score and Reflect

The culture you need to create should be fuelled by growth and learning, so scoring and reflecting is imperative to ensuring that goals are met, and teams are aligned. At the end of each cycle, teams should give their OKRs a final score and complete retrospectives on what they have accomplished.

Taking time to learn from previous OKRs is just as important as achieving them. The reflection will help teams to do better next quarter.

How long should an OKR cycle be?

This can vary depending on business type and size. Cycles typically are set up quarterly, with three months per cycle. This allows enough time for cycles to make a difference whilst keeping goals short term.

However, smaller businesses that are just starting out with OKRs may want to trial cycles that last six to eight weeks.

OKR tracking and monitoring

OKR tracking is an essential part of the OKR cycle. Ultimately, it involves monitoring OKR performance and the impact this has had on your business’ daily activities, corporate goals and future business growth plans.

You can use OKR software to track progress towards your organisational goals, or you can do it the old fashioned way via spreadsheets and documents. No matter which option you choose, you should always keep an eye on your OKRs throughout the duration of the cycle. 

When tracking OKRs in the cycle, consider the following:

1. Regular check-ins 

Check-ins are the make or break of OKRs. It’s essential for the OKR process to become embedded in the everyday activities of your team.

2. Confidence ratings and reflection 

By reflecting on confidence on a regular basis, steps can be taken to adjust and build towards improving confidence ratings before the end of the OKR cycle.

3. Retrospectives 

No one gets OKRs right the first time. Part of the process is learning, adapting and moving forward. Some OKRs will be carried on into the next cycle and some may be closed off once evaluated.  

4. Test, learn and adapt

After each retrospective, the last tests should be considered including what worked and what didn’t. The findings should then be adapted and implemented into the next quarter.

We could go on about OKRs all day and our team is always on hand to help you streamline your OKR planning process. So, if you want to discuss OKR cycles further, contact a member of our team for a much-welcomed chat.

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