Almost 2 years ago, I wrote an article explaining why it’s so important to keep your Key Results and Initiatives up-to-date by updating progress regularly. The content of the article still holds true, but we thought it’s worth sharing our answers to all the questions we’ve received since then.
First a quick recap
The main message of the previous article was that updating progress frequently would help:
- Keep co-workers in the loop
- Boost your happiness
- Increase your success rate
While doing research for that article, I found studies that showed that progressing towards a goal significantly boosted joy and motivation. Other studies proved that monitoring progress increased the likelihood of achieving that goal, and that your chances of success were higher when reporting your progress publicly.
The importance of updating your OKRs and Initiatives is scientifically proven!
Since our last post, we’ve received a lot of questions which I’ll share below.
Do we really have to update progress regularly?
Let’s say you are working with quarterly OKRs and that you don’t update progress. You’ve defined your OKRs at the beginning of the quarter, but because you didn’t update progress you have no clue whether or not you are on track to achieving your OKR. By the end of the quarter, you do want to know if you have achieved your OKR so you update progress. Whatever progress you have at that point will be a complete surprise to you, and if it’s not as good as you would’ve hoped, your chances of fixing it are gone.
That might be fine if your OKRs did not accurately reflect the top priorities for the quarter (in which case you’re not really doing OKR), but it’s unacceptable if your OKRs were important steps forward for your organization or team (what they should be).
Furthermore, updating progress regularly makes sure that your OKRs stay top-of-mind. The number 1 reason teams fail to achieve their OKRs is setting them at the beginning of the quarter and then forgetting about them (‘set it and forget it’).
How frequent is ‘regularly’?
This depends on how frequent you set OKRs.
Most organizations set Company OKRs once per year and Team OKRs once per quarter. If you update annual OKRs once per month, you’ll have 11 opportunities to adjust course if progress is getting off track. In today’s fast-paced environment, you will need these 11 opportunities to have a real chance of success. This is why we recommend updating annual OKRs at least once per month.
The same logic applies to quarterly OKRs: if you’ll update progress once every 2 weeks you’ll have 5 opportunities to do something if progress is not where you want it to be. You’ll probably want more frequent feedback to know whether your Initiatives are delivering the desired results, which is why we recommend updating quarterly OKRs once per week.
Won’t it cost much time to keep our OKRs up-to-date?
Not really. We’ve designed Perdoo in such a way that every individual can easily see what he or she is responsible for in any given quarter.
If you are leading an Objective, or have been assigned a Key Result or Initiative, you’ll find it all on your own profile page. Updating progress from here will only take you 2-3 minutes per week.
Of course, you can also integrate your Key Results and Initiatives so that progress is updated automatically. We have a spreadsheet integration as well as an Open API.
Integrating your Key Results and Initiatives is a tricky area. You need to be sure that your Key Results are accurate measures of success for the Objective, and you shouldn’t be creating Key Results just so you can integrate them. Since you’ll set OKRs every quarter, you also risk spending more time setting up these integrations than it would cost everyone to update progress manually (i.e. 2-3 minutes per week). Last but not least, as we’ve seen in our research, updating progress is a healthy and rewarding exercise, and it reminds everyone of what they are responsible for each quarter. Integrations, therefore, is not something we recommend you use when you’re new to OKR.
What happens when I update progress on my Key Result?
Every progress update will be logged on a timeline. Every Key Result in Perdoo has its own details panel where you can see, for instance, how progress has evolved over time. This would be another reason to regularly update progress, as it gives you an insight into how progress on your Key Results has evolved throughout a quarter.
The details panel also enables you to have a discussion around that Key Result or to celebrate progress ?
Last but not least, Perdoo sends out a Weekly Report for teams at the beginning of the week, informing them about the progress their team has made in the previous week. This helps them prepare for the new week and decide what to focus on.