How to run an OKR check-in meeting

TL;DR: OKRs are essential for building alignment and pushing individual and company development forward. But defining OKRs and taking the first actions to reach your goals is just the start. As tools for accountability and bridging the gap between setting a goal and executing them, OKR progress reviews should be a top priority within OKR cycles.

What’s the agenda for an OKR meeting? How do I review OKRs? How do I present my OKR progress?

So you just got started with the Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) methodology. Hooray! (And if you didn’t, we’ve got you covered: her is everything you need to know and our OKR template for setting goals) Your organization already defined company-wide goals that trickle down to team-wide and individual objectives, and your team knows what they need to do to achieve success and stay aligned.

But let’s be honest: Things don’t always go according to plan. Your OKRs should be ambitious, so reaching key results might be a nice challenge. Working towards the same goals as a team also means supporting one another and slaying dragons together — and OKR progress reviews/check-ins are the ideal space for that.

A best-practice framework for OKR check-ins helps you with:

  • Having a bird’s-eye view of the current state of affairs;
  • Identifying roadblocks before it’s too late;
  • Determining actions that don’t move the needle and shifting focus to those that will make a difference;
  • Supporting one another and thinking of solutions as a team;
  • Aligning your team;
  • Measuring confidence in OKR completion;
  • Calibrating expectations;
  • Promoting the exchange of learnings.

And if that wasn’t already great, OKR check-ins can also boost employee engagement. Why? Because employees stay aligned, keep in mind how their actions contribute to goals, and are encouraged to document progress and be daring and innovative to solve challenges.

Keep reading this People Ops Playbook to learn how to prepare and run a successful OKR progress review.

🎯 Set, manage & track OKRs with Leapsome

Our recurring goal cycles & easy collaboration allows you to maintain alignment and transparency.

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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

We recommend this playbook to managers open to improving goal-setting practices for their teams, and for CEOs and People Ops professionals looking to implement these processes across their organizations.

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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

OKR processes and progress documentation

This People Ops Playbook will also be helpful if you’re still implementing OKRs. And if you haven’t adopted OKRs yet, here’s a straightforward step-by-step guide with all you need to know.

Teamwork: managers + reports

Make sure your team knows that OKR progress reviews will save them time and are not a meeting that could have been an email.

Hinweise & Tipps
  • Someone should take on the role of meeting moderator. Managers often do that, but you may decide that someone else will own the OKR progress review meetings. This person must ensure that the agenda is followed, that meetings don’t exceed the stipulated time, and that discussions remain on track.
  • Even if they’re not the meeting moderators, managers should nurture creative thinking and offer direct support, in private, for struggling reports.
  • To build up alignment, company- and team-wide goals and progress should be transparent, which an OKR software would allow you to do easily.
  • For a focused discussion on specific key results and roadblocks, schedule another meeting. Be consistent about what the OKR meeting is. Stick to the agreed duration and keep topics relevant for everyone involved.
  • As mentioned, in-depth OKR review meetings between department/team leadership and senior management can also be fruitful. These meetings should concentrate on at-risk OKRs and their respective roadblocks.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

1. Define the recurrence and format that best work for your team

We recommend running OKR check-in meetings weekly, for no longer than 15 minutes for smaller teams or 30 minutes for large ones. This should be enough time to reflect on goal progress and set priorities for the week ahead.

Timing may require some training at first, but once you get the gist of the process, be consistent and stick to the established time. OKR progress meetings should get straight to the point, and in-depth work on individual key results should be done separately.

As for the format, this includes the agenda (we’ll share best practices with you — keep reading!) and understanding what would work best for everyone involved: a standalone OKR check-in meeting or, perhaps, a 15-minute slot at the start or end of a weekly department meeting.

2. Invite all participants

Weekly OKR check-in meetings should be done per team. Broader-scope OKR meetings between managers and senior management are also a good idea, but on a less frequent basis (e.g., once a month).

As they’re a great incentive not only for reaching your goals, but also for team alignment and engagement, include everyone from the team — even if it’s someone who isn’t directly responsible for individual key results (e.g., an intern who will only stay for a few months). Check-ins are reminders that everyone’s work matters and supports company growth and OKR completion, even if indirectly.

A meeting tool like Leapsome can help you smoothly set up a recurring OKR progress review check-in and notify all participants every week (besides setting an agenda and documenting progress — more on that below).

3. Set a clear agenda

As with the duration, the agenda of your OKR check-ins should be clear and consistent. This will help create a habit and set the right expectations, so employees won’t be caught by surprise with meetings running over time or by discussing an unexpected agenda and feeling unprepared.

Here’s a best-practice template you can use for your OKR progress review meetings:

  • Progress discussion & status

Share the progress on the key results associated with each objective. This means starting with one OKR and discussing the progress of all the associated KRs, moving on to the remaining OKRs.

The owner of each OKR (or individual KRs) must set a status for each initiative and communicate the context that lead them to pick each status. We recommend the following options:

  • Canceled
  • Off track
  • Delayed
  • On track
  • Done

As you discuss each key result, ensure everyone addresses blockers that are impeding progress.

  • Learnings

Time to share what the team learned since the last OKR check-in meeting. Did you try something new that helped push a key result forward? Or did you realize that something should be done differently?

Be generous and a team player, and remember that what we learn can help others too, pushing individual and collective progress forward.

  • Initiatives & priorities

With a grip on statuses, blockers, and lessons learned, the team can decide which initiatives to focus on to move forward and what to prioritize in the coming week.

Maybe you’ll realize that a KR won’t advance for reasons you can’t control and that it’s better to put it on hold until the next quarter while investing more time in off-track, delayed, and on-track key results.

Keep in mind: some topics may call for an in-depth discussion, but the OKR check-in meeting isn’t the time for this. So instead, schedule a separate meeting with the stakeholders involved (which a tool for meetings can also make easier).

4. Prepare as a team

All team members should gather the information they need to report on progress and impediments of the OKRs they’re responsible for. Think about specific insights you’d like to collect from other team members to make the best use of everyone’s time and keep the check-in brief.

Continuously documenting progress is key and will help your team stay focused (and meetings, brief). The easiest way to do this is to use a goal-tracking tool that integrates with your meetings. This way, you can easily visualize goal statuses and progress within meeting agendas.

5. Take notes during the meeting

You’re now ready to kick off your OKR check-in meetings. How exciting! As you follow the agenda, take notes (which can choose to be public or private) and write down action items. 

Ideally, pick a meeting tool that allows you to carry these notes over to the next meeting, so you can keep track of what still needs to be tackled even more efficiently.

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Follow-up best practices for OKR check-ins

Take action and reach those goals!

Sounds simple, but we know it’s not always the case — after all, your OKRs will always be challenging (and, hopefully, exciting too).

Although weekly OKR progress review meetings aren’t the proper space for thorough discussions on specific roadblocks, this meeting should be about much more than documenting. Ensure that priorities and input needed from others for the coming week are clear for all team members. Schedule focused discussions if needed for specific key results.

💡 Besides running OKR check-ins, schedule 1:1 meetings with each of your reports. Learn why they’re so important and get a free agenda template.

And if you haven’t yet implemented objectives and key results at your company, see how to roll out the OKR methodology. 😉

Run effective OKR check-in meetings with Leapsome

Leapsome is the only platform that closes the loop between performance management, employee engagement, and learning. 

OKR meetings should follow a structured agenda. Watch this video to learn about setting up default meeting agendas and customizing them to fit your needs with Leapsome.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I schedule an OKR check-in?

The most impactful recurrence for OKR progress review meetings is to have a quick check-in every week and a more thorough review once a month. 

Why should I have weekly OKR check-ins?

Weekly OKR check-ins enable your team to always have an overall view of present circumstances, identify blockers before it’s too late, keep the team aligned, and focus on actions that will make a difference.

Who should take part in weekly OKR check-in meetings?

Each manager and their team. As pointed out, in-depth OKR review meetings with senior management should have a different structure and recurrence.

In monthly meetings with senior management, stakeholders can decide on how to course-correct. This may mean canceling an OKR or changing its execution strategy altogether. The notes taken during weekly OKR check-ins will be particularly helpful for these reviews. You may also find that other formats work well for your company, such as monthly meetings between department heads to exchange ideas and see how they can support each other’s teams in achieving their OKRs.

What are the goals of an OKR check-in?

OKR progress review meetings can achieve several goals. Besides helping your team reach their goals more easily, strategize, and know where to better allocate their time, OKR check-ins support employee engagement by helping teams stay aligned, exchange learnings, not lose sight of how meaningful their work is to the organization, and encouraging them to document progress and be creative.

Should the OKR check-in/progress review be a standalone meeting?

That’s up to you and your team. For some, a separate meeting will work better, while for others, 15 focused minutes before or after department meetings are the best option.

What are frequent mistakes people make in OKR check-ins?

Some common mistakes are:

  • Not following the agreed-upon duration and agenda;
  • Excluding team members;
  • Spending too much time on specific discussions that aren’t pertinent to all meeting participants;
  • Not giving everyone the opportunity to express themselves;
  • Not investing in a culture in which employees feel psychologically safe to seek help and share bold ideas;
  • Being unprepared and not documenting progress;
  • Not documenting the decisions made during the meeting.

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