Why use personal OKRs for growth?
Personal OKRs are a bit of an anti-pattern, but they can still be helpful if you keep them separate from the company and team goals.
Well, company OKRs shouldn't cascade down to individuals as it often leads to confusion. Goals that are set at a team level will clearly focus on business outcomes. But goals that are set for individuals will often be a mix of business outcomes and personal growth targets that don't necessarily align with the needs of the team.
For instance, a developer who wants to move into marketing will have a certain number of objectives that are unrelated to their current team. This would lead to a personal OKR plan that has 3/4 of the goals connected to dev work, and 1/4 of the goals talking about marketing skills.
You could split the plan in 2 different set of OKRs, but it's much simpler to avoid cascading team OKRs down to people.
But while you shouldn't mix personal objectives with team OKRs, you can still use the OKRs structure to track your personal development goals:
- The OKRs format is a great way to express your goals in a simple and measurable way.
- Tracking progress on your Key Results every week will keep you accountable and help you adjust your efforts.
- Re-using the terms of the OKR framework will also simplify communication by setting a standard for writing and updating goals.
Just treat these personal OKRs as something completely separate, that should only be read by you and perhaps your manager.
Examples of OKRs for personal growth
Are we happy with general safety and security protocols?
Are requests handled in a timely manner?
Are employees generally happy with their work environment?
Do we need to review the IT budget?
Examples of OKRs for personal development
You'll find below some OKRs examples to take inspiration from.
Personal OKR to get better at public speaking
Increase confidence and competence in public speaking
Give 10 public speeches in front of an audience
Complete 6h of training sessions on public speaking
Score 7/10 or above in feedback sessions
Personal OKR to improve leadership skills
Become a more effective leaders
Complete 4h of training on communication and collaboration skills
Delegate 20% of current responsibilities to the team
Get better at running 1:1s with the team
Personal OKR to improve your writing skills
Get better at writing blog posts
Create and publish 6 blog posts with a minimum of 500 words each
Receive at least 10 positive comments on posts
Increase the average time spent on each blog by 20%
OKRs to become better at running
Improve long distance running performance
Increase endurance by running 4 times per week
Increase speed by completing interval training sessions twice per week
Improve 5k race time by 20%
Tracking your OKRs
Knowing how to write good OKRs is critical, but without good tracking in place, the OKRs will fade away and focus will be lost.
It's not just us saying that:
- Peter Kappus writes that "check-ins are the most important part of OKRs".
- Felipe Castro cautions people not to let their OKRs turn into New Year's resolutions.
- Christina Wodtke tells us that "cadence is probably the single most important thing".
The easier it is for a team to have weekly discussions around the OKRs, the better they'll execute. Here are a few best practices for tracking OKRs.
1. Do weekly check-ins
Quarterly OKRs should be tracked every week to be effective. Without a continuous reflection on progress, your OKRs won't be much different from having KPIs.
The check-ins process can be automated with a platform like Tability that takes care of reminders, and distribute updates to the teams.
2. Keep track of your confidence
Good progress updates should help everyone understand how far we are from our goal, but also how confident we are in achieving it. You can use a simple red/yellow/green color coding to indicate your confidence.
3. Make trends easy to see
Lastly, it's important to look at trends to avoid false positives. It's not rare for a team to have a hot start and then slow down mid quarter. This will be hard to see unless you can look at progress trends for individual Key Results.
Stop wasting your OKRs. Focus on the right work and accomplish your goals.