Scoring OKRs, simplified
OKRs, or objectives and key results, are a great tool to use to focus your team on specific goals. But they are only as successful as the plan you create at the start of the cycle, so it’s important to grade and assess your OKRs throughout the quarter.
What is OKR scoring?
Scoring or grading OKRs refers to the method of setting criteria for evaluating team or organizational success. It’s the process of declaring the level of competition for each key result.
What are the benefits of OKR scoring?
The purpose of scoring OKRs is to assess the initiatives you completed and the measures you took to achieve your goals. It’s about setting up specific criteria, checkpoints, metrics, and benchmarks at the beginning of the cycle and using them to evaluate how successfully your team implemented the OKRs.
If you keep track of how well you’re performing throughout the quarter, it also gives you the chance to reassess and change direction if necessary when certain initiatives are not working. This approach helps to keep your organization agile.
When should you assess OKRs throughout the quarter?
In general, it’s recommended to have several checkpoints and assessments of your OKRs throughout the quarter–not just at the end of the cycle. At the beginning of each quarter, you should establish what your OKRs will be, and which metrics, benchmarks, criteria, etc. will determine the success of your key results and drive progress on the objectives. You'll refer to this when grading your OKRs throughout the cycle.
After you’ve established the checkpoints, it’s recommended to have weekly OKR check-in meetings to keep your team moving in the right direction. Having these regular check-ins will not only keep your OKRs at the top of everyone’s mind, but it will also indicate how much progress has been made.
Assessing OKRs three ways
Assessing OKRs three ways
OKR check-ins and monthly reviews
You should have regular check-ins with your team throughout the quarter to ensure you’re on track. This means assessing your initiatives’ progress and tracking your key results. Having these regular check-ins will not only keep your OKRs at the top of everyone’s mind, but it will also indicate how much progress has been made.
OKR check-in questions to ask your team
To determine your confidence level and adequately assess your progress, here are some questions to guide you during an OKR check-in or monthly review:
Looking through initiatives:
- What progress has been made?
- What comes next?
- Who is owning which task?
- Are all the tasks getting done on time?
Looking at key results:
- Has any progress been made or are there blockers?
- Has there been any stagnation or backward movement?
- What needs to change?
- Are the initiatives driving results or not?
- Are the key results which are being achieved actually advancing the objectives?
Looking at objectives:
- Is the objective close to being achieved? Why or why not?
- Does the objective still make sense in terms of the company’s strategy and vision?
Predictive and confidence scoring
Based on the answers to the above questions, you can determine your confidence level for each key result. The confidence level is there to indicate how well you think your key results are going.
At the start of the quarter, your confidence score should be around 50%. As you progress and start executing your initiatives, you should either be getting more confident and knowing you’re on track, or you may encounter blockers and your confidence level will sink. If your confidence level continues to sink as weeks go on, you should reassess your initiatives and potentially come up with new ones.
The closer to the end of the cycle, the more irrelevant the confidence level becomes. You should always be increasing in confidence as the end of the quarter approaches. At the end of the quarter, you should be using the grading forecast and the OKR scoring scorecard.
How to score OKRs
Assessing your OKRs by using a grading scale will help you evaluate what you managed to accomplish, as well as opportunities for change and development. In order to score your OKRs you will need:
✅ A scale for measuring achievement
✅ A key to determine what metrics represent which grade
✅ An understanding of what good progress looks like
It’s important to remember when scoring OKRs that your objectives and key results are meant to be challenging and difficult to achieve. Experts say that even achieving just 70% of what you set out to do should be seen as a major accomplishment. So keep this in mind as you write your OKRs as well as when it comes time to grade them.
How to score key results
As we mentioned above, you should be doing regular check-ins and reviewing your key results to make sure that you’re on the right track. Besides assessing your confidence level, you should also be keeping track of your current score to determine what progress has been made. To do this, you will need a scorecard such as this one:
This is the traditional way to measure your OKRs. Using a scale like the one above, give each individual key result a score from 0 to 1.0, with 0.0 meaning complete failure to make progress, and 1.0 meaning delivery or beyond.
At the start of the OKR cycle, you should determine what metrics will represent the key result’s achievement. For example, your key result might be “increase weekly organic website traffic by 200%.” You can assess the progress made here by using the score key below:
- 0% increase = 0.0
- 20% increase = 0.1
- 100% increase = 0.5
- 140% increase = 0.7
- 200%+ increase = 1.0
At each monthly review, you can determine your current grade for this key result. By the end of the quarter, if you’ve achieved a 120% or higher, you know that you’ve made great progress.
How to score objectives
Grading your objectives is quite different to grading key results. Key results are meant to be measurable, and objectives may not be at all. That’s why Andy Grove, the founder of OKRs, uses the “yes or no” approach to scoring objectives, also called the binary scoring method. Basically, you either achieved your objectives, or you didn’t.
Let’s say your objective is “Write a best-selling novel.” This goal is specific and ambitious–but it’s impossible to measure on a scale. You can either say “Yes, I did this” or “No, I did not do this.” While this approach may seem harsh, it does help keep things clear. However, be careful not to let it demoralize your team if objectives are not achieved. Since your objectives are meant to be ambitious, it’s important to consider your scoring overall–for your objectives and your key results combined–to assess true performance.
Tips for scoring OKRs
Your objectives and key results will be individual to your team and your company, so the way you grade them should be, too. But with these tips, you can make grading your OKRs as simple as possible:
- Determine the criteria and metrics for a key result’s score as you create them, keeping in mind the increments you will use to grade them later on.
- Only key results should receive a grade–not objectives. Objectives should use the binary scoring method, i.e., yes or no.
- Keep in mind that scoring a 0.7 or 70% should still be considered a major accomplishment. Consider this while you’re creating your key results, too.
- Make your OKR scores visible to the whole team and company. This will keep team members motivated and encourage transparency.
- Use your OKR scores to gauge your upcoming OKR cycle–what can you take away from your grades? You should see obvious places for improvement and which initiatives work well.
- Do not tie performance assessments with OKR grades. This is proven to be ineffective and demotivating.
- Use an OKR software such as Collato to track and grade your OKRs to keep scores visible and make progress tracking easy.
Go beyond basic OKR scoring with...
Go beyond basic OKR scoring with...