10 Common OKR Mistakes & How to Fix Them

Objective and Key Results

10 Common OKR Mistakes & How to Fix Them

24 Nov, 2020

This article will go through the top ten mistakes that managers and business owners make when setting OKRs. We will guide you through the top mistakes and provide ways on how to avoid setting unachievable OKRs.


By following these steps, you will save a lot of time for yourself and your team in OKR implementation. You will also bring out the next level of creating an environment that runs on achieving realistic goals.


This article is part of a series where we discuss OKRs and share our expertise in implementing them. View the rest of the series here:


  1. The history of OKRs
  2. Eight reasons why you should adopt OKRs
  3. How to define your objectives in OKRs
  4. How to limit your key results in OKRs
  5. How to Define Initiatives in OKRs
  6. How to be Realistic in Grading Yourself with OKRs?
  7. Examples of OKRs


What is an OKR?

OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. It's the process of creating collaborative goal-setting tools used by teams and individuals to set ambitious goals with measurable results. OKRs are how you track progress, build alignment, and encourage engagement around quantifiable goals.


10 Top OKR problems & how to avoid them:


1. You are setting too many OKRs per quarter

High-performance organisations focus on what's essential and are equally clear on what doesn't matter. OKRs encourage business owners and managers to make hard choices. They're a precise communication tool for departments, teams, and individual contributors. By dispelling confusion, OKRs give us the focus needed to win.


2. Your key results are tasks

A key result is not something you do. It is a result that happened because of something you did. For example, an OKR cannot be to "review training materials from our online resource" - this is a task as it can be efficiently completed and doesn't achieve anything - not to mention it shouldn't take a full quarter to complete. Instead, an OKR would be how the team's work has responded to reviewing the online resources in a numerical goal.


3. You set short term OKRs

OKRs are long-term goals, which means they're not necessary for every business model. If your company is a start-up or you're launching a new product, then don't create OKRs, instead set short term achievable goals that will better suit your business model.


According to Todd Ramlin, Manager of Cable Compare, “progress toward key results should be measured weekly to see what’s been done. If there’s no progress since the last check, there’s a problem that needs to be addressed.


4. You omit OKRs in performance reviews

If you want employees to aim high, you can't punish them for not hitting outrageous goals. Instead, employees can use their monthly or quarterly reviews to evaluate how their work has accomplished the target. If you haven't reached your OKR, it's key to determine how close you were and what you could have done differently to achieve the target next quarter.


5. Your objectives are too challenging or not challenging enough

You may think that your team completing 100% of their goals is great. However, you may be setting goals that are too easy. Objectives should be ambitious but still realistic. As standard, you should expect to achieve about 70-80% of an objective in a given quarter. If your achievement rate is more or less than this, then you may want to re-evaluate your OKRs.

6. Your OKRs are unmeasurable

Objectives & Key Results should be numeric - that is what makes your Objective measurable. It's crucial to remember Objectives are your big, ambitious goals. KPIs are the smaller, daily tasks and initiatives you do to reach your goals, which will help you achieve your bigger OKRs.

7. Yous don’t track for accountability

OKRs are driven by data. They are monitored by regular check-ins, objective grading, and continuous reassessment to ensure full control and accountability at the end of the quarter.


Dan Bailey, President of WikiLawn, explains that he experienced first hand that, “there always needs to be someone steering the ship, though, even if the crew is responsible for helping get it safely to the harbour. With OKRs, it's incredibly important to have a capable individual in charge of the objective. They need to know exactly what's expected and how it will be measured so they can oversee the process and ensure progress is made.


8. You don’t align and connect for teamwork

OKR transparency allows everyone in the team's goals to be shared - from the CEO down. Individuals link their objectives to the company's initiative and identify cross-dependencies to coordinate with other teams effectively. By connecting each contributor to the organisation’s success, cross-business alignment brings meaning to work.


9. The fewer objectives and key results, are better

It helps to focus on the top priorities and achieve the best outcome instead of completing too many goals at once and not achieving them to the best of your ability. There should be no more than five critical results for an objective. Less is more. Also, don't create more than five goals in a quarter.


10. Constant tracking

OKR tracking should occur at least bi-weekly. However, running weekly updates is a much better way of tracking OKRs. It helps a team ensure they're aligned and change initiatives if it's necessary.




Overall, we have analysed ten common mistakes in this segment and how to rectify them to make a good OKR. We hope this series on OKR problems and how to set up measurable OKRs will help you achieve the right results for your business and take your team to the next level. Remember that the primary mission of OKRs is to unite your company while taking your place to the next level!


Keep your team focused and aligned on delivering the right goals. Click here for information on how we can help.


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Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) system

Turn great strategies into acheved results. Have one place to set and manage goals for the company, team, departments or individuals. Everyone will know where they are going and what the top priorities are.

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