One of the most underrated leadership skills is reflection; leaving executives and team leads to constantly react instead of lead.
Most would agree it’s not enough to think instead of doing, well neither is it to do things without thinking. Taking a moment to step back allows your entire organization to lift their heads up, observe what’s been going on and collect learnings, so they can make informed decisions on where to go next.
Pausing to reflect means you get to choose your next move, instead of running from fire to fire. In the heat of battle, soldiers are also encouraged to stop, pause and reflect before they engage.
OKR enforces such breaks by requiring teams to set their Objectives & Key Results quarterly, creating some space in between those quarter to pause and reflect—symbolized by the process of closing your OKRs. In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know to successfully run through such a process.
We’re approaching Q4, when should we close our Q3 OKRs?
Use the first week of Q4 to step back and review Q3. You don’t want to do this at the end of Q3 because you want to know exactly how far you’ve gotten. You also want to prevent situations where people say “Yes, progress is only 40% but maybe I still manage to get this deal through on time which will increase progress to 70%”.
The last few weeks of a quarter can also be quite hectic. Teams go to great length to progress as far as possible on their OKRs before the quarter is out.
How much time should we budget for this?
You should not rush the process of reflecting. It’s best to budget a full week for closing past quarter’s OKRs. You can use this week also to finalize your OKRs for the new quarter. Of course, you don’t have to drop everything else. Just make sure that everyone keeps their schedule as open as possible, so there is enough time for closing past and drafting of new OKRs.
How should we close OKRs?
We recommend you to establish a Closing process for your teams and departments. Clear processes are scalable, and everyone gets an understanding of what is expected of them.
At Perdoo, we use the following process:
- Monday > Tuesday
The Objective Lead goes through a pre-closing exercise where he or she:
- Evaluates the performance of the Objective: Good, okay, bad.
- Evaluates each Key Result to see how the progress of the Objective was built up.
- Summarizes 3 key learnings.
- Wednesday > Friday
Time for Closing Meetings! During a Closing Meeting, the OKR Lead presents his findings:
- This is how far we’ve gotten.
- This is how I feel about it.
- This is how the Key Results performed.
- These are the 3 things we’ve learned and that we’ll improve going forward.
The OKR Lead’s findings are up for discussion and, once everyone is on the same page, the OKR is closed in Perdoo, and the 3 key learnings are stored in the Closing Notes.
Tips for the Closing Meeting
The Closing Meeting plays a key role in the Closing process at Perdoo. Each Objective Lead has 30 to 60 minutes to present his findings, which is enough time for a thorough discussion, provided that the Objective Lead is well-prepared.
Since we create OKRs for the new quarter during the same meeting, we budget a total of 1 hour per closed OKR and 1 hour to create new OKRs (which are subject to approval by leadership).
It’s critical to take enough time for the Closing Meetings. There is always so much to do, making it tempting to rush through them. The feedback our Head of Marketing, Rob, provided after one of our early Closing Meetings nails it:
“When everybody walked in, we were all in a rush-mindset. We wanted to get this over with ASAP because we all have dozens of other things to do. That mindset immediately made the meeting feel as an annoyance, a burden—instead of a valuable exercise. You have to force yourself out of this mindset, and the only way to do that is to block enough time for the meeting.”
Closing OKRs in Perdoo
Closed OKRs are grayed out, marked “Closed”, and moved to the bottom of a profile page. Closing your Objectives in Perdoo is important because it helps you to mentally disconnect from what you’ve been working on during the past 12 weeks. You need to take that mental step before you can decide what you should be working on next.
When you close an OKR in Perdoo, you’ll be prompted to add a Closing Note. This is the perfect moment to reflect and capture your learnings. Did you get to 98% progress? Great, but was the Objective challenging enough? Did you only get to 15% progress? How come the Initiatives you worked on didn’t move the needle on the OKR? What else could we have tried? Does it still make sense to have this Objective going forward?
Learnings like this can be stored on the Objective, allowing your co-workers to benefit from your learnings as well. Organizations, teams, and people all progress by learning. Realizing big dreams and achieving bold Objectives, like becoming a market leader, require you to learn faster than everybody else. It’s hard to learn if you don’t pause from time to time to take a step back, reflect, and close your OKRs.