Grade your OKR performance

The self-assessment is a critical tool for getting the most out of your company’s OKRs

An important element of the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) process is grading. Sometimes overlooked, grading is critical to the OKR framework, so it’s worth exploring why we need to grade, how to best grade, and what we can expect from the grading exercise.

Every story needs an ending

OKRs have a planned time window, meaning there is an expectation of an end date. While OKR timing helps us focus our efforts during a period of time, it also forces us to stop our work, look up at our progress, and evaluate the performance of the OKR. Upon closing an objective, we grade our performance because:

  • We must learn from our mistakes. We will not set perfect OKRs every time. Work is fluid, and often times internal and external forces render an OKR less important, so the grading process forces us to think truly about an OKRs effectiveness and worth. Ask yourself: Does this OKR still make sense? Does it still signify the most important focus areas for the business and my time? Was it a success? Should I repeat it, or build upon it?
  • Grading helps us stretch ourselves. By grading our OKRs, we gain understanding into how well we can plan and forecast against our resources. Are we overachieving on all of our OKRs? If so, we should set more challenging results the next time around. If we’re missing our targets badly, then maybe the OKR exercise has been too aggressive, and future planning sessions could benefit from a tighter focus with more realistic expectations.
  • OKR assessments lead to valuable, important conversations. When you’re done grading your OKRs, you’re now in a position to have meaningful discussions with your peers or boss about your contributions to the team. You’ll have clear insight into your strengths and areas of needed improvement. You will be well-positioned to self-advocate and help define areas of needed focus for future OKRs because you know what worked, what failed, and what was just OK.

OKR grading benefits

keep OKR grading simple

Keep OKR grading simple

There can be a desire to over-think things in life, and OKRs are no different. But grading an OKR can, and should, be a simple process that doesn’t burden the objective owner. A productive, quick grading process should include the following:

  • Grade immediately upon closing the objective. Our StatusPath goal management software immediately pops up a self-assessment grading tool upon closing an objective. We do this because timing, as we mentioned before, is everything when it comes to grading. Don’t hesitate in this process.
  • Select a grading scale and stick with it across the company. OKR purists will argue that a “good” score for an OKR is between 6 and 7 our of a 10 (or .6 to .7 on a scale of 1). The reason behind this approach is that key results are intended to be ambitious, meaning that hitting a 7 out of 10 is a good performance. Hitting a 9 or 10 out of 10 is absolutely overachieving (and potentially might indicate a need for an even more ambitious result). Your organization can and should set and communicate the scale that works for your business and how you like to operate.
  • Apply a score, and leave a comment. Rate the overall objective performance along with each individual result. Apply the number that makes sense in your evaluation. Once the results and objectives are scored appropriately, take the time to provide your perspective on the OKR and your performance. OKRs need to encourage conversation to gain the maximum benefit for you and the team. Start the conversation by candidly sharing your opinion on each OKR and sharing that opinion with key stakeholders.

Make OKRs a compass for your work

Setting, tracking, and ultimately grading OKRs gives you a very clear snapshot of your efforts and performance over a period of time. Use that information to understand how aligned you are with the company, how engaged you are with the bigger strategy at play. Every grade and self-assessment you make will point you in a more profitable direction if you listen to the results. Abandon results that don’t make sense, work harder on important results that are falling behind, and always communicate your assessments to encourage meaning dialogue.

OKR grading guide

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