Learn how to successfully plan for OKR implementation with a remote team
In case you missed our recent webinar, Prepare to Run a Remote Planning Cycle, we’ve recapped the highlights, pragmatic tips, and key takeaways. Koan CEO and Co-Founder, Matt Tucker, was joined by Senior Customer Success Manager, Wyl Villacres, for a conversation about how to run a remote planning cycle, something that many of you are most likely doing for the very first time.
Expanding on our earlier post, OKRs in a Time of Crisis, here are a few steps we recommend taking with your organization.
Step 1: Reaffirm the goals that are still relevant - Carefully review company-level, departmental and team OKRs and select the critically important ones Communicate to the entire company that these goals still matter, and update everyone on which expectations have changed.
Step 2: Close out everything else - Virtually every team struggles with setting too many goals, but now it’s more important than ever to focus on what’s most important, and to free up resources so that you can invest where it counts.
Step 3: Create new goals that address the crisis - Have focused discussions in your team to plan out the areas of your business that now need critical focus, plus to identify new opportunities.
Step 4: Relentlessly pursue simplicity and clarity - Narrow the scope of how many goals, explicitly identify the key targets and metrics, and clearly communicate adjustments and changes to the entire team.
Step 5: Build in agility to support rapid changes - One of the cornerstones of OKRs as a business process is the ability to be flexible and to change with your needs. It’s important to have regular monthly check-ins to assess if you’re continuing to go down the right path or if you need to pivot to focus on something else.
Running a Remote Planning Cycle
When preparing to run a remote planning cycle, we have a few tips to keep in mind as you’re getting ready:
Prepare for a more structured vs. ad hoc process
Set explicit timelines - timelines are always going to be important, but now even more important because it will give people documentation. We’ve created a sample timeline for your team.
Publish an OKR playbook - it will set expectations and gives employees what they need to approach the planning cycle, establishing a clear operating cadence that is deliberate and straightforward.
Clear communication - always be clear and over-communicate about what the OKR planning cycle consists of.
Come to planning meetings with draft objectives
Prep ahead of time. Ultimately, what works at an offsite won’t work as well through Zoom. Pre-work planning will be essential before the remote planning call, because you don’t have a whiteboard to brainstorm with your team.
Enable your champion. There is typically one person that is responsible for running the process (like a Chief of Staff or COO). Prior to the planning meeting, this person should gather feedback and survey executives so they can bring draft objectives to the meeting. When you have draft objectives to discuss, this will lead to a much more efficient conversation, and ultimately a better result.
Start at the top. Have your first planning meeting with just the leadership team meeting to reaffirm the yearly strategy, and then figure out what the next quarter will look like. You may have some more urgency and bigger changes to address, but beginning with the executive team will help identify the most important concerns.
Use async feedback loops.
It’s important to set clear expectations on when and how feedback is given. Given the fact that everyone is remote now, you’ll want to be transparent and make sure that you have the best possible goals in place by prioritizing three types of asynchronous feedback loops:
Bottom-up Feedback - Get feedback from your manager
Horizontal Feedback - Get feedback from peer teams and look for opportunities to combine efforts. This will also make sure goals are aligned as a company.
Resource Planning - Find cross-team dependencies and ensure adequate resources. If you’re depending on another team to contribute to your priority, this will make sure everyone is in agreement.
Surviving Working From Home
Finally, we wanted to offer a few tips about how to remain effective when working from home, and how Koan can help:
Weekly reflections are even more valuable to keep remote teams engaged. Clearly communicating and giving each other feedback through Reflections is an invaluable process, especially when everyone is remote. You can also follow @heykoan for custom question ideas posted every Thursday!
Write everything down and assume that everything should be asynchronous by default. When you’re jumping from one Zoom meeting to another, it can be easy to lose track of priorities. Writing everything down will save time in the long run.
Keep your team aligned by communicating regularly; get daily updates on progress, priorities, and problems/concerns with our new feature: Koan Check-ins for Slack!
All of these behaviors listed above are super valuable even when not in crisis or when doing remote planning. The OKR process can make your organization stronger anytime, but it turns out that following best practices for OKR planning just become even more important when you're trying to do it or remotely. We’re encouraged by many of our customers who have rolled with the punches and put their heads down to figure out how to navigate this new world.
If you’d like to watch the webinar on-demand, the recording is still available here.
Remember, Koan is here for you. If you want to talk about anything we’ve covered in this post or learn more about our platform, just let us know.