Are Check-in meetings really necessary? And why? These are the questions many executives ask themselves when introducing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) into their company. The structured meeting format for team coordination is often initially seen as additional time and effort. This article explains the added value of regular Check-ins and their relevance for the achievement of goals in various teams as well as the entire organization.
What are Check-ins?
Check-ins are effective and efficiently structured meetings for teams working on and aligning with shared goals in relation to their operational tasks and strategic priorities. In the OKR cycle they take place weekly or bi-weekly between kick-off and review, i.e. in the active work phase of the OKR cycle. In these meetings, the teams reflect on what they have been working on in the last week and what they want to do in the next one. It is essential that they also discuss how the tasks they have worked on, as well as future tasks, contribute to their OKRs and what experiences, obstacles and difficulties the team members see in relation to them.
Check-ins should follow a clear structure and be carried out by all teams in the organization. However, they are flexible in the exact design. There are pre-formulated questions that teams should follow when structuring Check-ins. (Read more about structuring and preparing Check-ins here). In the best case, teams integrate their Check-ins into existing meeting formats. This means no additional time is required and existing meetings can be made more effective and efficient thanks to the structure. Especially for organizations that are just starting to work with OKRs, it is recommended that OKR Coaches are present at the Check-ins. These Coaches can immediately clarify any questions that arise and support the team in the OKR process as well as the communication around Check-ins.
Why are regular Check-ins important? How do teams and organizations benefit?
Many organizations initially perceive Check-ins as an additional investment of time without seeing the benefits of this format. The following points highlight why Check-ins are so important in the OKR cycle as a bridge between operational action and strategic thinking.
- Teams are more aware of their objectives and their status.
Check-ins enhance the awareness of goals and thereby increase the commitment of all team members to achieve them. In addition to presenting the progress of goals, the confidence level (Status) should also be addressed in the Check-ins. It allows the OKR Owner to indicate how confident he is about achieving the goal within the current OKR cycle.
This enables teams to see more quickly whether a goal is likely to be achieved or not. As a result, better planning and adaptation of future projects as well as early discussions of possible reasons and obstacles is possible. Especially in the case of lag measures – performance indicators that measure target achievement late in the process – it makes sense to specify the confidence level. If the team considers the achievement of a goal to be unlikely, it can react to this assessment. By flexibly adjusting priorities or procedures, the team can in many cases ultimately make it possible to achieve the goal. It is also interesting to compare progress and confidence levels. By this kind of regular reflection, teams can improve their self-assessment and thus set realistic long-term goals.
- Teams benefit from feedback and transparency.
Another advantage of Check-ins is the transparency of the status quo and the regular exchange of potential problems that arise during the OKR cycle. Continuous feedback loops allow team members to learn from and with each other. In addition, by discussing upcoming tasks, dependencies quickly become clear and team members can support each other.
- Teams increase their flexibility and adaptability.
Check-ins promote structured and regular communication within project teams. In this way, teams increase their flexibility and the ability to adapt strategies more quickly to given conditions.
- Teams work more focused and improve their self-organization.
The predefined structure of Check-ins helps teams to prepare their meetings in the best possible way. In addition, the Check-in questions allow discussions to be more result-oriented. In this way, teams can save time and use existing meeting formats more efficiently.
When check-ins are set up and implemented in a structured way, team members understand the added value, and a communication around goals is created, the format does not represent an additional investment of time but an important component in the OKR cycle that makes a significant contribution to the achievement of goals. Thus not only the individual teams, but also the entire organization benefit from regular Check-ins.
If you would like to learn more about Check-ins, take advantage of our E-Learning opportunities, watch one of our product videos or join our Pathfinder Community to discuss any topic, question or challenge related to OKRs.