OKRs are a methodology that generates ways that allow the entire company to focus and work on the same great goals. So how is this focus achieved? With alignment! Alignment is one of the main concepts and sources of success of OKR. But in order to achieve complete alignment in an organization, a really rigorous and regular work is required. Because alignment is not a phenomenon that is set when OKRs are first determined and can just leave it, it requires constant control.
Think of your organization as a means of transportation that wants to get to a certain point. If all the crew moves as if they are going to move to the same point and do their job; if they move the vehicle in a consistent direction with each other, it can reach the destination. Similarly, OKRs are a mechanism that ensures that everyone goes in the same direction to the same goal, the only goal that is most important to them all. An attempt by a single person or group to go in the opposite direction can sink the entire ship. In the business world, unfortunately, it can destroy an organization.
How can you align your OKRs at the beginning of the period?
Determine the context
You are at the beginning of the path and you will determine your OKRs. How can you be sure that they will be aligned? If you are at the beginning of the year or you are just switching to the OKR method, you can look in detail in parallel with the context of OKRs and the context of the company’s strategy. Do you have departmental OKRs that support the company’s main OKRs? Do the OKRs of this department coincide with the OKRs on a team basis and on an individual basis? What is the OKR of managers in this sense? They must all be related to each other. If so, we can say that your OKRs are aligned.
To determine this context, you can create strategic discussions accompanied by a transparent, fair communication environment. People at the executive level should confirm that the OKRs fully reflect the company’s priorities, and departmental OKRs are also specific to these departments and are determined in the most appropriate way to the company’s main goals. After going through such an approval process, we can put OKRs into practice.
How to maintain alignment throughout the period?
Stay connected with constant observation
Do you have any idea how your route changed after determining your OKRs? Are there points where people or teams fall behind, situations where they deviate from their OKRs, or OKRs that have been abandoned? What, if any, are the reasons for this deviation? If you set a goal of not giving up at least 80% of OKRs at the beginning of the semester, knowing where you are in such a goal brings alignment. For example, if you find that 30% of OKRs have been abandoned, you may find that you need to work on realignment. Therefore, to check the alignment, determine a measurable connection path.
Do not interrupt the check-in periods
We can say that the fresh blood of OKRs is the check-in period. It is very useful for the organization to discuss whether your OKRs are still aligned during these periods. The types of check-ins can be different in different ways and can be customized in such a way as to bring the most benefit to the organization. Meetings where team members share status updates can be considered one of them. In these meetings, which can be held weekly or fortnightly, the team comes together and evaluates the situation. In the middle of the semester, managers can give OKR coaching to the employee and have a longer strategic conversation at a higher level. He can talk about whether the direction that the team is following on the success map aligns with the general course of the company. As another type of check-in, the executive team should also inform the employees about whether the company priorities previously determined are still valid.
Create business associations between different departments
How about creatively studying the goals of different departments and creating various business associations? As a matter of fact, such an approach also results in better alignment. Study the goals of different departments at the beginning of the semester. Which of them can you create business associations between? Teamwork and team spirit are one of the highlights of OKR. If you can create such cooperation opportunities, you will ignite the passion for unity of purpose. And this means more motivation, greater achievements. Thus, each department completes its own OKR and supports each other.
Do not skip the necessary revisions on the OKRs
Managers or team leaders should weigh whether OKRs are still effective according to the results they encounter compared to the goals during check-in periods. Is the employee still sure about his OKR, is there a point that he does not understand about the goal? Has it fallen to a point far from its destination? Does the OKR need to be revised, so what kind of revision is needed? All this should be talked about transparently.
In addition, except for doing fine tuning for existing OKR’s, the priority ranking between OKRs can also be changed during these check-in periods. It is also important not to be afraid to give up if there is a goal that does not work. According to the answers to such questions, a clear decision can be made whether to continue moving along the same route or change the route in mutual communication.
In summary, determining the OKR is a very important part of the OKR methodology, but it is necessary to control it throughout all periods to maintain alignment. If you can integrate this approach and the practices we are talking about into your organization’s performance management system, it will be quite easy for you to achieve alignment and find your alignment again with agile improvements even if you go off course.
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