More Tips for OKRs Coaches

by | Sep 24, 2021 | OKRs Coaching, OKRs Tips

In 2019, I posted “Tips for OKRs Coaches.” Quite a few coaches shared their tips as comments. I am proud to report that I achieved my 2020 New Year’s Resolution to formalize my work with OKRs coaches around the world through the expansion of www.okrscoach.network. As well, I just submitted the final manuscript of the OKRs Field Book to my publisher. The new version of the book is coming in April of 2022.

All the tips included in the 2019 post are still relevant today. However, I’m refreshing the discussion on tips for OKRs coaches. I will share a couple tips to get this discussion going along with some tips from my colleagues.

1. Align OKRs based on conversations rather than a “direct cascade”

The direct cascade approach, as you probably know from the famous example of an OKR for a football team, features parent key results having objectives as their children as shown here:

The best practice for aligning OKRs that ensures teams do not simply copy and paste higher-level OKRs and instead, engage in critical thinking and have conversations about what’s important is summarized here in this diagram:

For more analysis of how to cascade OKRs effectively and ensure alignment, please refer to The OKRs Field Book.

 

2. ALWAYS, (LET ME REPEAT THAT, ALWAYS) USE THE THREE PHASES:

The three phases are: (1) deployment coaching, (2) training, and (3) cycle coaching. All OKRs.com coaches leverage this proven formula for creating coaching engagement work plans. And this approach, as detailed in The OKRs Field Book, works. It is based on trial-and-error learning with hundreds of clients. It is the very fact that these three phases work as a scalable model for OKRs coaching that gave me the audacity and confidence to write The OKRs Field Book.

Your client may want you to jump right into cycle coaching or a training workshop, but always, and yes, let me repeat that – always –, begin with phase 1 to align on deployment parameters such as: (1) the level at which we will define OKRs, (2) number of objectives to define (multiple objective or just one per team), and (3) OKRs cycle timeframe (quarterly, 4-month, 6-month, etc.).

 

Dikran Yapoujian, the first  certified coach to join my team, has this advice:

“When facilitating check-in sessions, it helps to ask structured questions. I begin by asking if we are on track to achieve the key result.” (Expressed as a probability of achievement by end of period or color-coded with green or red)

  • If yes, how do you know? What gives you confidence we’re green or have a probability of x percent? (Avoid excessive ‘progress updates’ about recently completed work. Instead, focus on whether we’re on track to hit the target.)
  • If not, what’s happened to change our confidence? Where are the blockers? (This might be a conflicting priority, dependency on another team not participating, resources not engaging, or simply a lack of focus on the OKR)
    • What alternatives have you considered to getting back on track? (The team should have considered what choices they have – could be redeploy resources, add capacity, clear conflicting priorities, etc.)
    • What is your recommendation? What decision do you need from this team to proceed? (The team should be prepared to act on the recommendation(s) during the check-in process. That’s what allows the OKR framework to add tremendous value, especially for teams not used to acting so nimbly.)

Finally, once we have confidence that key results marked “green” are on track, most clients focus their check-ins on the red items, making check-ins more efficient.”

 

Mulyadi Oey, an OKRs coach based in Indonesia and founding member of The OKRs Coach Network, shared these tips that has served him and his team in their multi-year journey to become OKR coaches:

Start small — especially when you are just starting out this exciting journey as an OKR coach. Coaching a group of 5 people is very different compared to 10 people. Coaching 3 teams simultaneously to build their (weekly or bi-weekly) cadence is very different from doing it sequentially (team A first, then team B, then team C). All these different configurations require us coaches to adapt promptly…”

 

Finally, Omid Akhavan, an OKRs.com certified coach based in the middle east, finds the following issues arise when companies do NOT:

  1. Limit the number of their OKRs and the levels at which they define OKRs
  2. Designate and train an internal OKRs Coach to drive the OKRs (as a SPoC)
  3. Tend to put everything in OKRs (routine tasks, projects, health metrics, …)
  4. Spend adequate time on drafting/refining/aligning OKRs before each cycle
  5. Try to cascade OKRs instead of aligning them vertically & horizontally
  6. Figure out how to set targets consistently and score KRs accordingly
  7. Define KR leads/contributors and not write shared (cross functional) OKRs
  8. Plan, communicate and track the actions/projects needed to achieve KRs
  9. Have the discipline for routine check-ins & review meetings during the cycle
  10. Focus on scoring and performance evaluation instead of lessons learned

Now, let’s hear from you!

Please share your tips for OKRs coaches here. If you are a founding member of The OKRs Coach Network, we are especially interested in hearing from you in the comments.

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