According to Locke’s goal-setting theory, the following key principles strengthen the goal-setting process:
- Clarity: Goals must be clear, measurable, and specific
- Challenge: Goals must be relatively ambitious
- Commitment: Deliberate efforts should be made toward goal attainment
- Feedback: A solid system should be set in place for feedback
- Complexity: The time taken to learn difficult tasks should be accounted for
The objectives and key results (OKR) methodology vouches for all of these, making it a solid goal-setting framework for your organization. What spearheads OKRs’ success, however, is embedding commitment and feedback throughout the OKR cycle. Thankfully, this doesn’t require back-breaking effort. It simply requires periodic OKR check-ins to ensure employees head in the right direction. In a nutshell, this is what OKR tracking is all about.
What is OKR tracking?
Tracking OKRs involves checking in on OKR progress to facilitate steady headway toward goals. It requires monitoring, aligning, and updating OKRs with real-time data throughout the OKR cycle. Keeping an eye on OKRs and communicating progress to your organization positions OKRs as an essential strategic tool and increases the likelihood of attaining your goals.
“The only progress you can achieve is the progress you measure.” — Dan Sullivan, author of The Gap and The Gain
Why you should be tracking OKRs
Besides making goals more achievable, tracking OKRs bring additional benefits to your organization, like:
- Improving employee engagement
- Strengthening collaboration
- Establishing a culture of continuous improvement
- Gathering feedback for upcoming OKR cycles
- Cultivating data-driven decisions
Improving employee engagement
Tracking and recording OKR progress keep employees engaged with the OKR process. If they can visibly see how they support objectives, they’re more likely to stay engaged and make consistent progress toward their goals.
Tracking OKRs and maintaining progress transparency can help connect and align team efforts. Cross-functional employees can use overarching OKRs as a single source of truth to reorient collective efforts toward what matters. This helps align departments, teams, and individuals with your company’s top priorities.
Establishing a culture of continuous improvement
OKR tracking can help you quickly pinpoint and address areas of friction so you can avoid bigger problems down the road. For example, when OKR progress slows down or stalls, this can signify ineffective or irrelevant tasks. As a set of tasks often accompanies key results, you can quickly determine which tasks are insignificant and need to be replaced.
Gathering feedback for upcoming OKR cycles
The information gathered from tracking OKRs can feed, inspire, and direct your next OKR cycle, informing you on:
- What types of goals are achieved most often
- Which goals are the hardest to attain
- The effectiveness of OKR tasks
- A team’s ability to coordinate performance
- Current and potential obstacles
Using data from previous OKR cycles to refine future processes, you can create a positive feedback loop to better tackle OKRs in the long run.
Cultivate data-driven decisions
Given increasingly intelligent competitors, being data-driven is no longer a luxury — it’s a necessity. When tracking OKRs, employees can use OKR data as a springboard for data-driven decision-making. This can hone your company’s strategic direction, cultivate analytics agility, and save costs, helping you thrive amidst today’s business challenges.
5 top tips on how to track OKRs
Want to set your organization up for success with OKR tracking? We’ve got you covered. Here are the five best practices for tracking your OKRs:
- Ensure transparency around general OKR information
- Create a regular OKR tracking cadence with check-in meetings
- Establish percentage benchmarks and scoring for KRs
- Figure out the right data visualization for OKR tracking
- Eliminate manual OKR tracking
Ensure transparency around general OKR information
A fundamental aspect of tracking OKRs is granting everyone access to vital OKR data. This includes:
- A breakdown of objectives and key results: What goals you’re looking to achieve (and how) at the individual, team, functional, and departmental level
- Visualizing OKR alignment: A visual understanding of how OKRs tie into broader organizational goals, creating organizational alignment by helping employees understand how their work contributes to the bigger picture
- OKR ownership: Knowing who’s in charge of OKRs ensures employees know who takes the lead, driving accountability and effective teamwork
- OKRs relevant to each OKR cycle: As OKR cycles are relatively short and fast-paced, employees must know which OKRs belong to which cycle by highlighting appropriate milestones and deadlines
- General OKR updates: Employees must be up-to-date on OKR progress, encouraging motivation and feedback
- Which OKR program owner, champion, or sponsor supports teams: Knowing the relevant OKR leaders in charge of deploying, sustaining, and operationalizing OKRs throughout your company can help streamline the OKR process
Create a regular OKR tracking cadence with check-in meetings
OKR check-ins are vital when tracking OKRs, ensuring timely feedback and consistent goal progress. OKR check-ins consist of weekly meetings lasting 15-20 minutes, where teams:
- Reflect on last week’s OKR progress and learnings
- Dive into OKR scores and confidence levels
- Discuss next week’s priorities
Covering these topics every week saves you time in the long run, helping you tackle issues before they pose severe threats to OKRs.
Establish percentage benchmarks and scoring for KRs
Not all key results are created equal — some are more conducive to OKR attainment than others. Therefore, you must establish percentage benchmarks and scoring for key results.
Percentage benchmarks make tracking key results more accurate. They involve specifying how much weight each KR has in OKR attainment. For example, you may have an OKR whose first key result is more impactful than its third. In this case, you need to add a heavier weighting to your first key result, increasing its importance to OKR attainment.
OKR scoring outlines how you determine key result attainment. Most companies go about this with one of two methods: Andy Grove’s binary method or Google’s OKR grading scale.
The binary method is simple — it involves stating, “yes, the KR was achieved” or “no, the KR wasn’t achieved.”
Google’s OKR grading scale takes a different approach, where key results are graded from zero to one — with one signifying that the key result has been attained. The overall level of OKR completion is then calculated by averaging the gradings of all key results.
Accounting for percentage benchmarks and scoring can keep your KRs updated and increase precision when tracking OKRs.
Figure out the right data visualization for OKR tracking
Not only does data visualization showcase OKR progress, but it also helps you summarize, oversee, and consolidate large datasets in an accessible way.
One of the trickiest parts of OKR tracking is choosing how to display data so it resonates with your entire organization. The most suitable data visualization method conveys the right insights, pinpoints obstacles, empowers confident decision-making, and tracks data changes over time.
While you can opt for manual data visualization, this may be time-consuming and challenging to create. To simplify the process, you can rely on customizable OKR tracking software and their dedicated internal dashboards. These draw real-time data from multiple sources, showcasing the most relevant OKR data in a way that suits your organization.
Eliminate manual OKR tracking
Manually tracking OKRs can be a burdensome task — especially if you’re applying OKRs to a scaling business. Moreover, doing so can give rise to several disadvantages:
- OKRs become siloed and disconnected from daily operations
- Employees feel less motivated when tracking OKRs is difficult
- OKRs lose their agility when they’re updated on an ad hoc basis
- Manually consolidating interdependencies between cross-functional OKRs is a near-impossible task
- OKR tracking is more prone to errors
Use OKR tracking software for hassle-free OKR tracking
OKR software can help you avoid the difficulties of manually tracking OKRs. Integrating this technology into your tech stack can enrich OKR management, as its capabilities span beyond spreadsheets. The right OKR tracking software enables you to:
- Create collaborative OKRs
- Track and display OKR progress in a centralized dashboard
- Fuel OKRs with data from various integrations
- Measure interdependent OKR progress
- Generate progress reports
Read more about the features and benefits of OKR software.
Quantive's OKR software integrates all these features and more, allowing you to claim all the benefits of OKR tracking and incorporate the best practices mentioned above. With Quantive, you get:
- Insightboards: Create a customizable dashboard for all OKR tracking insights, displaying and combining data using filters such as function, OKR owner, and data source
- Custom data visualizations: Gain dozens of OKR tracking insights from Quantive's marketplace, illustrating data in ways that appease stakeholders
- Performance reports: Make data-driven decisions using OKR reports, encompassing OKR tracking data such as average, individual, and team progress
- Alignment view: Get a structural overview of shared goals with a top-down breakdown of quarterly and annual OKR progress
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