Practical tips to communicate better as a team and keep everyone engaged
Koan is more than just a tool to track the progress of team OKRs. The platform allows users to see how their work fits into the company’s overall goals and provides everyone in the organization, from managers to individual contributors, the ability to stay aligned and up-to-date with what’s going on at every level.
In a recent webinar, Wyl Villacres, Senior Customer Success Manager at Koan, highlighted ways for teams to communicate better together using Reflections and offered ways for leaders to dig into the progress of their goals each week to make sure that everything is on track.
For those new to Koan, Reflections are weekly updates, also referred to as a status report or status email, on the important things you got done, are planning to get done next week, and any problems, issues, or blockers that you might have faced. In addition to these questions, each Reflection will also ask for a confidence rating (on a scale from 1-10) on the ability to deliver on any goal that you are assigned to.
The great thing about capturing information like this in Koan is the ability to gather these insights in one, transparent location. You can review past updates, have conversations in the context of the work, and flag progress towards important goals. Reflections provide a well-rounded approach to understanding progress on goals. Not only do we get the confidence rating, but we're also able to see the work that's being done towards these goals, which is going to let us make some better data-informed decisions moving forward.
Beyond gaining information, we see Reflections as something that can provide value even outside of just focusing on the goals. Here are some of the top reasons why Reflections are beneficial for teams:
Reflections force you to confront the work that you’ve done during the week, whether that's something positive or something to learn from.
Your team is smart and they know that numbers alone don’t tell the complete story. In addition to the quantitative scoring, Reflections offer the ability to provide qualitative insights.
Reflections open up additional pathways for feedback from team members who might not feel comfortable speaking up in meetings and prefer to write things down.
It increases visibility and accountability at the team level. Not only is everyone aware of what others are working on, but they are held accountable if those things don’t get done.
Reflections can be customized for your team so you’re asking the right questions at the right time.
Customizing Reflection Questions
Over time, we’ve noticed that teams who include customized questions in Reflections typically perform better on OKR results because users are going to be more engaged with the process as a whole. It also increases communication at the team level, which in turn, creates more insights to uncover problems before they become major issues.
Custom questions might not necessarily tie directly into the work that's being done but can provide an engaging option for teams to interact. There are two types of custom questions that we generally see people ask:
Workflow specific questions - for example, engineering teams asking about pairing programs, product teams asking about feature requests, marketing teams asking for campaign ideas, or sales teams asking about hot leads.
Icebreaker questions - these are ways to get to know your teammates better and break up the monotony of traditional status reporting. For inspiration, we post a custom question on the Koan Twitter every Thursday.
Tips for writing Reflections
When it's time for your team to write their Reflections, here are a few things that can make it easier, especially if this is going to be a new process for your team.
Carve out some dedicated time to complete those Reflections. For example, if you ask for Reflections to be submitted on Friday, schedule 20 minutes to give your team time to work on them.
Create custom questions that are engaging and enjoyable for everyone to answer
Provide a theme for the week and have everyone on the team try to add the best gif to match that theme.
Goal-driven team meetings
Goal-driven team meetings are not just as a place to talk about your KPIs or delineate tasks. They also provide the opportunity to dig into the progress of your goals and keep your team moving forward. Including a discussion around goals as part of your overall meeting agenda will help your team live with your OKRs and make sure they don’t get forgotten about.
Creating a culture where your team thinks about their goals regularly helps them to live with their OKRs and continue to grow together. Here are some tips to help you create goal-driven team meetings:
Make sure everyone has updates before your meeting.
Provide dedicated time to read each other's updates during the meeting to make sure everyone understands what their teammates are working on and no one misses out on receiving feedback.
Dig into the progress of the goals - Once everyone is on the same page with status, sort goals by confidence ratings and talk about the ones that have the lowest confidence first to give them the time they need. Presentation mode can be another great way to facilitate these discussions.
Additional Tips to Keep Your Team Engaged
It’s important to keep your team engaged with the process of working on their goals both inside and outside of your team meetings.
Whenever possible, let team members decide which KRs they’ll lead
Make it okay to deliver bad news and encourage it to be early.
Confidence ratings are subjective, but set some norms about what they mean to your team
Make sure your team is reading each others Reflections. Opening up additional communication will always help your team work better together.
Make goals a team sport.
Learn from each quarter. OKRs are a process and are never perfect.
If you’d like to dive a little deeper into any of these topics described, feel free to watch the recorded webinar. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at email@example.com or through the messenger app on our website. You can also visit our OKR Resources page on our website, which provide all the tools that you'll need to be able to effectively write, roll out, and engage with your OKRs.