May 06, 2022

How to Balance Between Long-Term OKRs and Quarterly OKRs?

Long Term OKRs VS Quarterly OKRs

While making personal objectives, we often assign ourselves weak deadlines, such as within this year or the upcoming 5 years. We leave room in our timetable for strategic judgments on when we need to make larger initiatives, reevaluate our aims, or determine if they’re still important as the deadline approaches. This makes perfect sense for individual objectives since we aren’t dedicated to them, so we may dream large and establish bold, long-term goals.

This more unclear timescale, however, does not work for fundamental organizational goals. Numbers must be met, strategies must be made, and boards must be updated. It may also feel easy to connect these objectives with your yearly planning process. This is where OKR comes in. It helps organize your priorities and share them with your team members in a collaborative manner. This blog is focused on providing the basic differences between long-term annual OKRs and quarterly OKRs and how to balance them.

What are Long-Term Annual OKRs?

Annual objectives or OKRs describe the long-term achievements you aim to make in your firm. OKRs show progress rather than performance. Thus, these yearly goals are not the yearly KPIs or measurements. Instead, they represent your firm’s inspiring long-term strategy.

What are Quarterly OKRs?

Quarterly objectives or OKRs represent your company’s priority goals for the next three months. It is part of the business’s yearly goals and should be planned accordingly.

How to Plan Annual Goals?

When you begin organizing your financial year, you must first establish your yearly objectives. Respond to the query, “Where are we looking forward to being at the end of this year?” These annual goals should be contained solely in OKRs at the management level.

Establishing those yearly objectives makes the procedure of defining quarterly objectives for the company employees much simpler. You just need to establish quarterly value-based OKRs for the organization to provide direction to the team members as they set their eyes on the quarterly targets for the year’s first quarter.

πŸ’‘ Remember that quarterly objectives and OKRs are all that are required for employees. Targets that are set 12 months ahead of time become too vague for staff. These objectives are constantly so far ahead that your employees often postpone their work thinking that they still have time to worry about them later. On the other hand, with quarterly OKRs, individuals will be more focused on goals because the deadlines are just three months away.

Establish Quarterly OKRs to Align with Annual Corporate Goals

Once you have established your yearly corporate goals as your North Star, all you need to do is to set high value-based objectives for quarterly OKRs. The main concern while defining objectives should be: “What has to be done/changed in the next three months to ensure that the annual corporate goals are met?”

On an organizational level, we recommend setting no more than 4-5 quarterly OKRs. However, all of them should target your topmost priorities and should add definite value and steady progress towards your annual goals.

They must be bold yet practical, and time-bound. Key Results should be measurable. Every one of these is an ingredient for fantastic OKR planning, yet many organizations fail to execute them as expected. Rather than concentrating on what is right in front, they enter the objectives into OKR software or, maybe even a spreadsheet and simply forget about them. However, this does not imply that the yearly goals are ineffective, Long-term planning is essential. However, this underlines a problem with long-term objectives and annual OKRs in general: they are hard to monitor.

In this regard, we advocate setting yearly goals to provide a general guideline rather than monitoring them quarterly like short-term OKRs.

Annual vs Quarterly OKRs: Which one should you set?

It is preferable to deploy quarterly OKRs rather than annual OKRs.

Initial initiatives toward OKRs are aimed at making significant choices that will establish the course towards the objectives. With a longer period, that course can be drastically changed, with early actions having a dramatic influence on the outcome in unexpected ways. This is worsened by the idea that the consequences of those actions will not be evident for quite some time, decoupling the reason and consequence by having to wait several weeks or even months for further updates on the objective. Work completed in January does not accurately anticipate outcomes produced in December.

πŸ’‘ Annual objectives must be made apparent, but not monitored in the traditional OKR manner. Annual objectives may and should serve as standards – that can evolve and alter in response to new conditions or past achievements.

Benefits of Short-Term OKR Evaluation

Following are a handful of benefits of short-term OKR planning

1. Enhanced mobility

A reduced loop allows teams to observe outcomes sooner while still allowing them to explore and make improvements. Generally, financial objectives are set yearly, however, work completed in Q3 may not provide the exact outcomes as work completed in Q1. A cycle of 3 months allows your employees to more readily adjust to new difficulties without fully disrupting the yearly framework.

2. More concrete objectives

Splitting the bigger, yearlong objective into quarterly chunks provides employees with more specific outcomes to strive for and allows them to establish stronger objectives based on prior achievements. If they fall short in Q1, you may raise the objective for Q2. If they outperform in Q2, Q3 might be raised to keep the momentum going or pushed back to allow some free time, this is entirely based on how well the squad is performing and how you want to monitor them.

3. Less uncertainty

Experiencing shifting objectives is, of course, simply the start of the challenges your employees may face during the year. More uncertainties are added as time goes on.

  • Will your objectives be applicable in 6 months?
  • Would the same groups and individuals continue to work on them?

πŸ’‘ A shorter schedule decreases the number of uncertainties and allows your team to rely on the available resources.

Are shorter OKR timeframes viable?

There are some queries regarding shorter OKR timeframes – monthly or even weekly OKRs. If we are looking for fewer uncertainties and more concrete objectives, shouldn’t these make more sense than quarterly OKRs and annual OKRs? However, that’s not the usual case.

When we investigate these shorter objectives, we usually discover that managers are attempting to incorporate tasks or projects. A lengthy number of Key Results for a particular Objective, all at various deadlines, is a clear symptom of a bad OKR deployment. Teams become engrossed in their OKR checklist and lose sight of the wider goals they are attempting to achieve.

That is not to argue that shorter OKRs aren’t useful. Organizations that have previously effectively adopted OKRs and created their OKR frameworks can get good outcomes in reduced time frames. Monthly OKRs or even six-weekly OKRs can be successfully met if there are greater initiatives that profit from a greater emphasis on project outcomes. As an OKR example: If your organization is experiencing a string of negative customer reviews near the conclusion of the financial year. It is best to set an objective of raising the customer review score to 80% within a month. It necessitates urgent attention while also providing value to the company’s annual planning. This is when shorter OKRs come in handy.

Still, failing with these shorter Key Results is considerably simpler because there are fewer options to re-strategize if key results do not show progress or certain things fail to go according to the plan midway through the given timeframe.

Quarterly OKR Needs Weekly Monitoring

The timetable you set for your OKR might also have unanticipated repercussions, such as how frequently your workforce interacts with their objectives. Spending time every week to evaluate their performance and their objectives is the greatest approach to ensure that your staff is engaging with their particular OKRs and actively analyzing their work and thinking about the best possible way to go ahead.

Regarding quarterly OKR reviews, fresh data emerge every week, so keeping a consistent plan for such check-ins is critical. With yearly objectives, there may be long periods when no fresh data is accessible and no major adjustments occur, which makes a regular weekly check-in difficult. This stops healthy practices from forming and, if your staff goes back to quarterly OKRs or even shorter timeframe objectives shortly, throws you behind. Shorter timelines with frequent check-ins can keep your OKRs healthy, which means uncovering concerns early and providing you enough time to figure out the best path ahead.

πŸ’‘ Just like other technical changes, there is no one-size-fits-all method to implementing OKRs, but some discipline and awareness around your deadlines may go a long way when you’re just getting started!

OKR is a simple, flexible way of setting goals in the workplace – easily measurable objectives, have a clear purpose, align with business strategy, and are supported by key results. Its proven methodology helps companies focus on what is truly important, get better results by aligning goals with tactics, and better communicate goals throughout an organization.

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Sunder Nookala

Sunder Nookala

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