Getting OKRs to Resonate with Engineering
29 March, 2020
Vice President, Engineering at Bleacher Report
I do our OKR's here on an annual basis. What continues to be the biggest difficulty is getting these objectives to resonate with engineering. This can often be related to a lack of understanding, feeling intimidated to ask questions, and not enough push at varying levels within the engineering department.
- One of the first things I do, once I know what the OKR's are, is to sit down with other engineering leaders and discuss these business goals.
- I have to ask myself the following questions: 'What are the things I can do within the engineering department to support these OKR's?' 'How can engineering help expand sources of revenue?' What I do as a result of that, was to go through that exercise with other engineering leaders. This entails a long, meaningful conversation about how many things directly or indirectly contribute to supporting these OKR's.
- As a group, I get the engineering team together to talk about these objectives, have them hear the business side, and hammer into them what they need at a business level. I make it clear that these are what we were being tasked with for the year.
- To reinforce these company-wide ideals, I ask my managers, as part of their one on ones, to walk through the OKR's again with those individuals, reaffirm our commitment to them, identify that they are being understood, and present an opportunity for questions to be asked.
- Transparency is key. At the end of the day, OKR's need to be comprehensively understood from top-level business to the lowest level engineer.
- If engineering leaders do not fully understand what the OKR's mean, you will start off on the wrong foot and everything else after that will be a total disaster.
- Getting engineers to understand what they need at a business level can be challenging, but it is worth the investment, and I highly recommend you invest as much time to doing this as possible.
- More often than not, there is a sense of vulnerability that comes with asking questions about OKR's in team meetings. It is important to allow an opportunity for questions during one on ones, where they will be more comfortable to ask for explanations on things they do not fully understand.
- It is critical, that from the start, you articulate any foreseen inabilities in supporting certain OKR's. It can be a difficult conversation and sometimes your instinctive advice will not be accepted. However, it is advisable to have said your piece before beginning a near impossible task on a current platform.
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