OKRs Reflect & Reset meetings that transform experience into competency

What is OKRs reflect & reset meeting?

Companies that already implement OKRs will always have a question: how should I implement OKRs better in my organizations?

The answer is complicated, but one fact you cannot ignore:  You cannot skip OKRs Reflect & Reset meetings if you want to achieve that objective.

If you want OKRs to work better for your team/company, you have to keep doing OKRs reflect & reset meetings whenever you complete one OKRs cycle.

Like swimming, OKR is a skill. You do not swim very well the first few times. Everyone who is learning swimming has to swallow water when his movements are not proper in water.

When you want to avoid getting a mouthful of water again, you will change your swimming breath control that eases you into the highly unnatural state of having your head underwater.

Or you may realize how to start floating horizontally in the water by pushing your tummy up a little bit and then take a big breath and hold it and then that’s how you swim the next time successfully.

Implementing OKRs is like swimming. If you want to have a more successful OKRs experience next time, you must document your learnings and apply them to the next OKRs cycle. This is what we do in Reflect & Reset meetings.

How to do OKRs reflect & reset meeting?

To summarize, I did three things in OKRs Reflect & Reset Meetings with my clients:

No1. Prepare them with the correct mindset: OKRs Reflect & Reset Meeting is to capture learning, not to evaluate employees’ performance.

No2. Educate them not to be afraid to fail: The team’s motivation may be affected if the key results scores are low. It’s normal. Gaining confidence and becoming a proficient swimmer requires that you spend sufficient time in the water. Likewise, the more time you spend implementing OKRs, the more comfortable you’ll feel and the better OKRs practitioner you’ll become.

No3. They reflect on what challenges/ successful experiences they had in the last OKRs cycle and how they want to apply the learning as they develop and implement OKRs moving forward.

Case studies and key lessons

We recently had Reflect&Reset meetings with a gaming company in China. We had discussions with different key results champions. Below are examples from the HR team, branding team, and overseas marketing team in this company.

Key lesson No1: OKRs can be small & sweet

This is one of the key results from the HR team. It was scored 0.3, but the team was not satisfied with what they got. They learned in the next cycle that instead of doing something big and wide, like the improvement at the company level, they should focus on HR business, such as improvement in recruitment.

Key lesson No2: OKR is not to evaluate the performance

After we facilitated the discussion with the key result champions of the branding team, some of them raised a concern: OKR may not work well for the branding team because most branding work cannot be measurable.

To fully understand their issues, we focused on the purpose of the OKRs initiative. The team shared with us they intended to use OKRs to evaluate employees’ performance.

We clarified the purpose of OKRs is to help teams achieve goals faster and effectively, not a tool of performance evaluation. So the team learned in the next cycle, they should use OKRs as a critical thinking framework and self-discipline method to achieve department goals.

Key lesson No3: Learning is not only about blockers and challenges, but also about breakthrough and success.

Before we ended the reflect and reset meeting with the overseas marketing team, we asked them what impact their objectives and key results bring to the company?

We saw the light in their eyes. The team members shared with us that during the 1st cycle of OKRs, they got a big success in the overseas market, so they copied the same strategy into China market. It created another big win. This good news was featured in the company’s internal journal, which motivated the team further.

Coaching takeaways

1.     As an OKRs coach, we should give less advice to client’s business, but we ask more leading questions to help them find learning by themselves.

For example, when the HR team was reflecting on the problems of their key results low score, instead of giving them advice,  we gave them some time for internal team members to discuss with each other. It turned out they agreed it is good to start the OKR in HR department with something small but valuable, not emphasize too much on the scale.

2.     Always remind our clients: the intention of using OKRs is the foundation for their OKRs program. The branding team realized the quality of their key results was poor because they define OKRs to evaluate employees’ performance. Immediately they decided to shift the focus to how to use OKRs to get more goals completed for the team.

3.     While the OKRs coach needs to ask the team to reflect on what they need to improve in the next cycle, it is also essential to let the team share their success as it enables them to become intrinsically motivated.