|  |  | 

Leadership Project Management

How To Set Team Goals That Work – A Project Managers Guide To OKRs

Reading Time: 4 minutes

goal_setting

Are you a engineering manager leading teams in a software product company or a startup. Are you trying to figure out how to set team goals that really work ? Then read on .. Here are some well tested techniques successful managers apply to ensure they get exceptional results from their teams.

Have you heard of the well known OKR method of goal setting. Widely used by companies like google the method is attributed to Andy Grover , the father of OKR who applied it with great success at Intel during his tenure.

There are so many people working so hard and achieving so little.
 —Andy Grove

What is OKR?

Objectives and key results is a framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. let us see how we can apply this framework to set goals for engineering teams . In his much acclaimed book – Measure What Matters by John Doer (Recommended Reading) talks at length on OKR system and how major successful companies like Intel, Intuit,Google etc have used the system repeatedly for achieving great success.

John quotes in his book –An effective goal management system—an OKR system—links goals to a team’s broader mission. It respects targets and deadlines while adapting to circumstances. It promotes feedback and celebrates wins, large and small. Most important, it expands our limits. It moves us to strive for what might seem beyond our reach

How to Set Team Goals

As a project or engineering manager your team focus is on the delivery of a high quality end product that meets all customer needs. Through the OKR goal setting process you can enable your teams to focus on the end result. Some of the objectives the manager will focus on

  • Product delivery with high quality
  • Improve team performance
  • Continuous team’s skill development

 

In his book John talks about the 4 main focus areas for a manager to make the goal setting successful. These are

  1. Focus and Commit to Priorities – As a manager be ruthless in committing to the priorities. If you aspire to build a high performing exceptional team it is important to focus on what is important and weed out the unnecessary.
  2. Align and Connect for Teamwork – Ensure goals are aligned with larger organizational goals and connect each contributor to these goals. This will bring a sense of meaning and achievement in the team. Communicate goals with transparency
  3.  Track for Accountability – Your success in reaching the goals is driven by data. Ensure periodic evaluations, metrics measurement and continuous reassessment. Course correct the goals immediately when you see a problem
  4. Stretch for Amazing – Engage your teams to push the limits. Motivate them to go beyond and delight the customers. Create a safe environment where failure is accepted.

 

Product Delivery OKRs

Some examples of OKRs for this area are below. How can we deliver a high quality product that meets the customer needs? how can we exceed the expectations?

Objective 1: Deliver a high quality product

Key Results:

  • Reduce user acceptance defects to x%
  • Reduce defect density per epic/story by x%
  • Improve test efficiency by x%
Objective 2: Improve product performance
Key Results:
  • Reduce API response by x%
  • Improve website response by x%
  • Reduce errors by x%

 

Improve team performance OKRs

How  to do more with the given resources. How can we speed up things ? These are questions are managers are confronted with and organization expect on a constant basis. Some example OKRs are

 

Objective 3 : Improve development team productivity

Key Results:

  • Increase the sprint velocity from 150 to 200
  • Reduce defects per feature to 1
  • Reduce requirement gaps by x%

 

Objective 4 : Improve test team productivity

Key Results:

  • Improve test automation to from 80% to 90%
  • Improve test coverage by x%
  • Improve deployment automation to 80%

 

Objective 5 : Improve the overall process

Key Results:

  • Ensure 100% code reviews
  • Allocate x% hours for clearing tech backlog
  • Reduce requirement gaps by x%
  • 100% compliance on requirement sign offs

 

Continuous team’s skill development

How can you improve the domain expertise in the team? how can team be on a continuous learning path on technology? These are some of the questions a manager should ask and set goals to achieve them

Objective 6 : Continuous learning goal at all levels

Key Results:

  • 4 monthly sessions on Know Your Product
  • Leads to have 2 monthly sessions on technology
  • Submit 3 papers at the organizational tech forum

 

Objective 7 : Focus on career progression at all levels

Key Results:

  • 2 monthly 1-1 with the team
  • Mentor 2 senior leads to grow into architect role
  • Set personal goals for all seniors on technology certification

 

Conclusion

Now you understand how to set objectives. These should be well framed and few . Too many can dilute the progress. Periodically review and make corrections as needed. This is a proven framework we found at Global Management Mentors that delvers consistent results. If you are a new manager make sure you find a good mentor.

Resources

  1. Must read – Measure What Matters by John Doer
  2. Take a great course on OKRs  that we recommend from Udemy here
  3. Reach out to us at mymentor@globalmanagementmentors.com for any advice

 

how-to-set-team-goals-that-work-a-project-managers-guide

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The authors are senior managers at startups and product development companies. They come with extensive experience in leadership and management of global engineering teams to deliver high quality software products. Each of them are extremely passionate about these topics . They mentor and train project managers on leadership and management.

6 Comments

  1. Zakyria A

    Great refresher on the OKR method for me. I have used a variation on this method in Allied Health management. The same objectives apply, however the main difference is in how each objective is measured. Aside from this method, I particular like your final comment on finding a good mentor. When I started out in management, I read a lot of books and articles on management styles and strategies, however my best learning was from mentors who showed me how to put it into action!

    • Management Guru

      Thanks for you comments. I agree that mentors are the best way to learn quickly when it comes to aspects of leadership and management. New managers must seek out mentors to be successful in their management career.

  2. James Cochrane

    I wish I had these tips back in the day when I was a tech project manager. I still keep up to date with the latest methods for project management because I sometimes get called to do quick projects.

    I am not familiar with the concept of OKR, so this is a good read for me. I especially like how you created templates and use cases for it. Anyone who wants to learn how to set team goals that work should read this article for guidance.

    Best Regards,
    Jim

    • Management Guru

      Thanks Jim for your comments. I am sure you can relate well with this as you are from the tech industry. Glad you found it useful

  3. Ivan Broz

    I’ve been working on some goals lately and this post helps a lot to get the grasp the process. I like your ideas here very much. Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more ideas from you.

    • Management Guru

      Thank you Ivan for you comments ! Appreciate it.

POST YOUR COMMENTS

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Name *

Email *

Website