Making the most out of the OKR review meetings

People on an online OKR review meeting

Most people don’t like meetings, so why should you have one dedicated to reviewing the OKRs?

Updating and reviewing the OKRs regularly is a part of every OKR culture, or at least, it should be. An OKR review allows you to monitor the progress of goals set at the beginning of the cycle and to check the feasibility of reaching the target. It also motivates you, as the OKR Owner, to focus your efforts on initiatives supporting the OKR.

Doing it alone, though, is not enough for the entire company to benefit from the OKR review process. Even if the OKRs are updated regularly, by all team members, you won’t achieve all the benefits the OKRs should bring. Not without the team and cross-team collaboration.

In this article, I’ll show you why OKR review meetings are the meetings you should have and how to do them well.

Regularity is key

OKR review meetings should happen regularly, preferably a day after the OKR updates are due. This will give everyone to come to a meeting prepared, with the most recent progress information, issues, prognosis, and questions. There are 2 things everyone can do during the meetings:

  • Hear the latest news from others
    – learn about the updates from a team or company,
    – offer some help or ideas,
    – share relevant knowledge on the topic

    Ask yourself: How am I able to help them get their goals on track/ to keep their goals green from where I stand, with my resources. If there’s nothing you can do, that’s okay. But it is always good to ask.
  • Share your updates
    – be proud of what you achieved,
    – seek feedback or help,
    – ask relevant questions

    Ask yourself: What should I share, what collaboration should I seek so that it would be most beneficial for achieving my goal and the highest goal we have?

This way, by doing the meetings regularly, everyone has information about the progress of all OKRs. They’re collaborating on their goals, and there’s a sense of going together in the same direction. The OKR Owners wouldn’t actively look at the others’ updates as often without the meetings.

Meet with the right people

It may appear natural to set the meetings with those with whom we work on the goals. So the engineering team would review their OKRs, the marketing team would review their OKRs, and the management team would review the top-level OKRs. Each team on their own, in their own time. As this is not a terrible practice, I encourage you to look at it a bit more differently.

Meeting with just your team on just your team’s goals would definitely help the team reach their OKRs. But it won’t encourage cross-team collaboration, which is often needed in order to reach the company-level goals. One team will end up blaming the other for not delivering something that they could deliver with some extra help and which caused the company-level goal to fail. 

If you’re a 10-people startup, then it’s possible to have just one OKR review meeting with everyone on the call. It shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes. However, if the company is bigger, then the best thing to do would be to engage 1-2 people from one team to go to the OKR review meeting of the teams, which are related to their team’s OKRs. This way, not everyone would have to spend additional time in meetings. The information your team has on the goals related to your team’s goals will be up to date, though. These 1-2 people (rotating) will be the team’s representatives that would act on behalf of the team. They’ll bring in relevant information, share updates valuable to the other team, and start common initiatives when needed.

Keep it focused

Remember that the OKR review is the time to share the updates relevant to others and discuss OKR-related issues. It’s not a time to solve usability issues, choose a better law firm, or dive deeper into any of the OKRs. If there’s something that needs to be discussed in greater detail, set up another meeting for it. Not everyone present at the review will be interested in this topic and you’ll lose the focus instantly. Especially if a manager or a director-level person was the one to start the in-depth discussion topic.

Another thing is that everyone should always come prepared for the meeting. It’s not a good practice to update the OKRs when it’s your time to speak or to look for the information you want to share when others share their updates. It should be possible for all people present to focus throughout the meeting just on the OKRs that are currently reviewed, the initiatives, and the actions that need to be taken.

Start today

If the OKR review meetings are not in your company’s OKR culture, then start today by inviting some people to have a pilot meeting and just see how it goes. You can also take a less relaxed approach and introduce a schedule of meetings into the company’s calendar. Either way, if the OKR reviews were not in your practice, then try doing them for the benefit of your team members and the company. Trust me, it will be a different OKR experience.

However, if you are practicing them, I hope they will bring even more value with time and practice and that you’ve found some value in this article. Hopefully, it could help you engage others more in the review meetings.

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