Eat your vegetables. Brush your teeth. Make the bed. Even when we know something is good for us, building positive habits is hard.
As organizations decide to roll out new processes like OKRs, they frequently run into the same issue-- they spend a good deal of time writing and refining their goals, only to put them into a spreadsheet and forget them. Koan’s weekly reflections keep OKRs top of mind and help form good habits around updating your goals. But how are our customers not only staying on top of their reflections, but using them to build stronger relationships as a team? We’ve talked to our most engaged users to find out.
Balance tactical and team-building
Every organization that we talked to highlighted two separate types of questions that they’d ask: tactical, work-related questions, and team-building questions.
“Adding custom relevant/timely questions shows how invested you are as a leader in the reflection process and sets the tone for your team to follow,” one of our customers told us. Beyond our standard Progress, Priorities, and Problems (or PPP) questions, their team answers two additional questions:
- one “heartbeat” question on how the work is going (how was the Q1 planning process?)
- one “social or fun” question to keep the team engaged with the process (what are you looking forward to next week? / what’s something you learned at work this week?).
“[Changing the questions] can make the reflection process less routine and lighten things up (along with the comments, reactions, and gifs which my team loves).”
Jeff Mahnke, from HealthSparq, mentioned a similar set of questions used in their reflections to speed up their standing retrospective agenda, which Jeff detailed as:
1. Review team member comments and confidence levels in achieving each of our OKRs. Individuals will speak to their confidence levels and rationale, especially when they differ significantly.
2. As needed, we may revise OKRs and their due dates to reflect changing business priorities.
3. While viewing the team manager’s aggregated team reflection, each team member will speak to their Concerns for the Team, Things to Start Doing, Things to Continue Doing, and Things to Stop Doing.
4. Any additional team and organizational retrospective feedback and action items are shared and recorded within the team reflection.
They incorporate both a social question (recognize a team or individual for going above and beyond) and a tactical question (action items recorded in retrospective) to keep his team engaged with each other, the work, and continuous improvement.
We at Koan have a similar set up with our reflections-- each week we’ll ask what were our challenges or learnings from the week, as well as an icebreaker question (e.g. “What’s the best job you’ve ever had?”).
Check-in on your team’s wellness
Workflow and social questions are a good way of trying to keep your team engaged with the reflection process, but reflections also provide a way to engage with your team. Especially with more teams working remotely, spending a little time to ask how everyone’s doing can help to bridge the gap left by water-cooler conversations. Eric Zanol from &yet asks his team each week both “How did you feel this week?” and “What are you proud of this week?”
It can be hard to get a sense of what might be affecting your team members from week to week-- what motivates them or what might be a blocker to their work-- without having a forum where you can directly ask. And while reflections are visible to every member of a team in Koan, with the right company culture, this can help make sure that you’re able to help or cover or celebrate whatever your team needs.
Save yourself time
Overall, reflecting on your week and your progress towards your goals should save work, not create it. Teams that haven’t fully adopted the reflection process can feel like it’s a make-work activity or that it takes up too much of their time. But the goal of doing reflections asynchronously is to give your team flexibility and a single channel to get all of the information that they need. Asking for a distilled answer to a bigger question can be another great way of leveraging reflections in order to get high level information without needing to schedule another meeting.
For example, Ben Otomo, Head of Marketing at 24Slides, knows that it’s difficult to keep people’s attention while going through data. “Let’s be honest, many people don’t really read marketing reports or look at dashboards each week. We found it much more efficient to give a short weekly update to keep everyone informed. Just as importantly it means we don’t need to spend time in marketing preparing reports and dashboards. Win-win!”
No matter how your team works, reflections can work for you. We’ve added a few example custom questions below to help get you started. If you want some additional inspiration, you we post a weekly #KoanQuestions on Twitter. Need directions on how to set up your own questions? Check out our help center here.
- What do you think we could be doing better as a team?
- Who would you like to recognize from the team this week?
- What process of ours could use improvement?
- Tell us a customer story
- What paper should we read at paper club?
- Do you have any interesting prospects you’re working with?
- Which marketing channel do you see the most potential in this week?
- What customer feedback have you received this week?
- Which certifications did you have issues with?
- What’s one thing we can improve about our OKRs process?
- What country do you most want to visit?
- What’s your favorite comfort food?
- Who is your biggest inspiration?
- What’s a life hack that you can’t live without?
- Is a hotdog a sandwich? Explain your answer:
- If you could be any animal, which would you be?
- Who would play you in a movie about your life?
- What’s your favorite app?
- If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you bought?