How to best track your results thanks to OKR monitoring

OKRs are, in most cases, used as a recurring goal setting tool. The framework is made up of inspirational and qualitative Objectives that are supported by quantitative Key Result(s). That means  you can actually track progress towards your goals. In order to do so, in this article, let's deep dive into OKR monitoring the why, what and how!

The Rhythm of OKR

The OKR framework follows a rhythm of 3 months, over and over again. This way, OKRs define what is most important and which results will bring the highest value within the quarter. 

Given that they are set for a quarter, it will be essential to monitor the OKRs over this 3-month period. That way you can see whether you are still heading in the right direction, or whether you’re off course and need to make adjustments.

In this post we’ll be diving into all things OKR monitoring, why it’s important and also how to do it properly. Some organizations like to monitor their OKRs aggressively, while others prefer to monitor in a more relaxed way. Whatever suits your monitoring style, do make sure you check in regularly. It’s the best way to stay on track!

Why OKR Monitoring is important

Have you ever heard about the way rockets are launched into space? When they are still on the ground, a destination is programmed into its computer, let’s say Mars. And yet, as soon as the rocket gets launched into space, it will start, slowly slowly, getting off course again. It will little by little start deviating from its course to Mars.

There are a number of reasons for this deviation and why constant checks and adjustments are needed to get the rocket to reach its final destination. That’s why so many people are monitoring and supporting the rocket’s journey in the rocket control centre back on earth. Together these people make sure that the rocket’s course gets adjusted regularly.

Now think of OKRs. During the course of a quarter, a lot of things can happen that make the OKRs go off track. This may be due to unclarity in the organization, new priorities, a change in direction in general... If we don’t watch out, our OKR rocket may fly right past Mars and crash into Venus! In order to avoid this, it’s important we act accordingly in our own OKR control centre. We have to monitor our OKRs and check whether they are still leading us to our intended direction and end goal.

Tools for Monitoring your OKR

The best way to monitor your OKRs is to have, just like the rocket, a clear control and support centre. That doesn’t mean you need a physical room with a hundred monitoring devices and screens. No no. It means you need to have a few things in place that will help you in identifying potential problems around your OKRs. 

The best way to go about this is to have a clear OKR dashboard, that shows the OKRs and their current as well as intended values in for example line graphs. Just like a car dashboard, an OKR dashboard can show you in a glance how they are doing.

Another tool that may be helpful is a simple OKR tracker, a tool to write out the OKRs and to update their scores. This tracker can be anything from a professional paid OKR tracking platform to a simple Excel sheet that you update yourself with the OKR values per week. There’s no right or wrong here, as long as the OKR tracker gives you a clear indication of the current state and health of the OKRs. 

Usually an OKR tracker will feed into an OKR dashboard, so that when you update one, the other will provide you with the newest OKR data.

OKR Check-Ins as part of OKR monitoring

Once you have your OKR dashboard and OKR tracker in place, it’s essential to have an actual OKR check in that happens regularly, preferably on a weekly basis. You want to get together with the group of people working on the OKRs to discuss how it’s going. 

Here are 3 useful questions that can bring great value to your OKR check in:

- What is the current status of the OKR?

- Is this current status better or worse than expected? Why?

- Are there any obstacles that need to be overcome in order to make more progress, or faster progress towards achieving the OKR?

It is important that OKR check-ins are efficient and rather short meetings. It is recommended not to take more than 30 minutes for it. Just as with a SCRUM standup, the value of the check in lies not so much in the current status of the OKR, but more on the collaborations and next steps needed to make progress. It is also important to keep detailed side discussions to a minimum so that the check in can stay short, sweet and simple. It’s highly recommended to have a facilitator present in order to get the best out of an OKR check in. 

How OKRmentors can help

Here at OKRmentors, we gather world-class experts that have trained teams on how to get maximum value out of OKR. They are skilled at doing OKR check-ins and making them as impactful as possible. With our support and guidance, you can rest assured your OKR rocket will be closely monitored and cared for. 

This article was written by Melanie Wessels

OKRmentors expert. Experienced coach with a demonstrated history of working in the internet industry. Specialised in goal setting, OKR implementations, workplace wellness, new-age agility and business spirituality.

Discover her course OKR Fundamentals - Dutch