Objectives and Key results, don’t set people up for failure. Part 2.

We’re starting this immediately after my last post Objectives and Key results, don’t set people up for failure. Part 1, so read that for context.

After seeing that I had failed I sat at my desk diving deeper into what my team had provided from the basis of my not so good initial overview of OKRs. This is always what I do because “for me giving up is way harder than trying”. Pretty quickly I realized that every one of them had provided some form of a goals list. They looked something like the list below.

  • Update XYZ portion of code to use ABC thing over current method to improve performance.
  • Teach Jon Doe how to use [insert tech thingy]
  • Improve the way we [thing Linode does] so it works [better way to do thing]
  • Refactor [section of code we have] to execute in [new way that’s better]

The lists went on like this with very acceptable goals that should be done. Yes, there were some items that were long term goals or required more than one person, but they were valid goals.

Seeing this pattern I thought about how I could show a “translated” version of them that would be measurable, fit into the OKR model, and still allow the goal to be achieved. I landed in a good spot after some pondering. My plan was to use common examples like the list above associate them with the original goal item and then show that relation in a 1 on 1 setting. It looked like this (using my list above as an example.

  • Improve XYC code base core functionality performance.
    • Refactor 3 [insert major functionality] functions of XYZ system.
    • Move to [insert new thing] for [function] in XYZ systsem
  • Educate 2 other team members on XYZ code-base
    • Document 2 undocumented portions of XYZ code.
    • Lead 2 review sessions of new documentation.
    • Cross-train 3 external teams on XYZ system.

These OKRs were then directly mapped to the original goals of the team members. When sitting down with them I showed the relationship, explained the positives of being able to measure them, and set expectations about next steps.

So, what are the next steps? In this situation I asked the members of my teams to both modify the examples I had provided and see if they could come up with 1-2 new objectives and key results related to the initial goals they had provided. I gave them one week before we would meet again.

A week passed and we met. In every instance of this last meeting my team members had either updated my original examples or written new OKRs that were fantastic. This was awesome and I’m super proud to have the ability to both fail and succeed due to the amazing people on my teams and their ability to spend time learning things that are sometimes considered useless at face value.

In my opinion while the outcome of planning these objectives and the effort we put into creating them is an amazing learning experience, but it means nothing without action on my part. These clear and measurable objectives allow(ed) me to lay out a framework for them to have the support they need to reach these goals. The previous statement is where I am today and yesterday. Using their objectives, the tools Linode provides, and my own effort to help my teams learn and grow. So keep stopping by or follow me on social media and I’ll let you know how it goes!

Thanks for reading – Will

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