Set timing for your OKRs

Time windows allow for grading, recognition, and reconsideration

You can’t just set OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) and track them forever. Every OKR across your company needs a time window, an agreed upon start and stop date. The amount of time for an OKR really depends on your organization, it’s culture, and how you view goals. There are a number of items you should consider when thinking about timing for your company’s OKRs.

OKR timing is shared

Timing for your OKRs needs to be shared across the organization. This means that all objectives – personal, team, and company – will all have the same start and end dates. This goes for different departments and office locations too, because consistent timing affords management a holistic view of performance. And the idea behind OKRs is that you’re cascading efforts, thus those efforts all need the same time boundaries so they remain closely tethered together.

okr timing shared

communicate okr timing

Communicate your timing

The OKR process is characterized by transparency and communication, and it starts with setting expectations up front. Clearly articulate your company’s start and end dates to every employee so they understand the expectations being placed upon them. A clear understanding of timing will help your employees establish, track, and perform against their OKRs.

A case for quarterly OKRs

Your OKRs can be set for a month, quarter, year, or even a custom time frame. They key is that the time allotted for the OKR isn’t so short that your OKR becomes a task list, or so long that your OKR becomes stale. While you know what works best for your company, here are a few benefits of the quarterly OKR that we share with our customers:

  • A long enough window to avoid the “task trap,” thus keeping the OKRs high-level enough to encompass major milestones.
  • Multiple opportunities each year to evaluate the OKRs and ask, “Does this OKR still make sense for our business?”
  • A comfortable time window for employees to assess and understand their impact on the business.

okr timing

OKR grading

Use timing to evaluate and grade

When you set a clear end date for your OKRs, you are affording everyone the opportunity to evaluate their performance. OKR grading is an important piece of the OKR framework because it forces each employee to rate his or her performance against measurable outcomes. The grading process can also expose changes in the business or trends that require attention, as poorly graded OKRs across multiple owners might reflect a strategic shift or even poor goal-setting.

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