OKR

What is an Ambassador and why do you need one?

22nd June 2018 · 3 min read

Rowers Rowing Boat

Every year, in London, 2 teams meet to decide who will win the annual Oxford vs Cambridge boat race. This prestigious event between rowers from their respective Universities has played out every year since 1856.

Each men’s and women’s team consists of 8 rowers and a cox. While the rowers are responsible for providing the power to drive the boats down the river, the cox is responsible for keeping everyone rowing in time, steering the boat down the course, and providing the motivation to keep the team going. While the crew all work together, the cox is responsible for keeping everyone aligned, and for ensuring they reach the finish line.

An Ambassador is like the cox in the boat race, responsible for keeping everyone in sync and ensuring that your Goal Management Program stays on track. So why do you need one?

OKR is both a structure for setting ambitious goals and a process that requires management to work. For a management tool like OKR to operate successfully, it needs to be understood by employees and implemented into their routine, which requires both time and effort.

We always recommend, especially if you’re new to Objectives and Key Results, or even if you’re using it already, that you nominate someone in your organization to become your OKR expert. We call this person the Ambassador.

What is an Ambassador?

The role of an Ambassador can be split into 2 main responsibilities:

  • Mentorship
  • Management

The first is that of a trainer and mentor. This is especially relevant as your company grows and hires more people. New hires will need to be introduced to OKR, understand how it relates to their role, and what their responsibilities are within the scope of the program. This differs depending on whether they’re a member of the executive team, a group or department lead, or an individual employee. An Ambassador is also responsible for ongoing maintenance and management of your OKR program. Their job is to coordinate key events in the OKR cycle like OKR creation and OKR closing, ensuring all those involved dedicate adequate time and resources.

Working with a partner like Perdoo, your Ambassador will be responsible for reporting on the health of your OKR program, covering areas like OKR quality and program engagement, as well as highlighting OKRs at risk and making recommendations to bring underperforming OKRs back on track. Finally, if you’re managing your OKRs in a software tool like Perdoo, your Ambassador will be responsible for ensuring it’s setup correctly, new users are added and ex-employees removed, as well as coordinating training on new features and functionality as and when it’s released.

If all this sounds like a lot of work, don’t worry. A partner like Perdoo can support you and your nominated Ambassador until OKR becomes embedded in the way your company operates and you no longer need support. However, don’t underestimate the fact you’ll need a dedicated person to do this, OKR isn’t “set and forget”, and it takes time to get right.

What makes a good Ambassador?

An Ambassador is an interesting and varied role, and while often not usually a full-time position, when starting out, it does require time and energy to make a company-wide OKR Program successful.

So who makes for a great Ambassador? We’ve worked with hundreds of companies and while there are certainly a few commonalities between Ambassadors, anyone with strong organizational and people skills, and experience managing company-wide programs would be a good fit. Here are some of the skills we’ve found make a good Ambassador:

  • Confident communicator
  • Strong organizational skills
  • Strong time management skills
  • Strong project management skills
  • Experience training teams
  • Experience implementing company-wide projects
  • Experience in either HR or Operations
  • Leadership experience

Usually, we see senior HR people take up the baton of Ambassador, especially the more strategically minded HR managers who champion their department as a key strategic business function, rather than an admin department.

We also see many Operations people take on the role of Ambassador as the natural affinity of their role with people and processes make managing OKR a good fit.

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