The How-To Guide to Freezing Key Results

The Mesh Team
Published on 
Apr 27, 2023
Looking to understand why you should freeze your key results in OKRs? Read this short blog in order to explore how to prevent your key results from being ‘siloed’ and forgotten.

What is meant by ‘Freezing Key Results?’ There are several takes on this; one meaning of freezing key results in your OKRs would indicate that you keep them in view. Another meaning of the phrase is derived when we talk about reshaping OKRs. When OKR target tenure is met, instead of moving on to the next set of OKRs, break down the OKR, redefine it and then freeze the new form of the OKR.

Let us get into a step-by-step review of what this means:

What are OKRs?

OKRs (Objective Key Results) is a method to set and achieve goals. This approach, created by Andrew Grove and his student, John Doerr, made them rather famous. In this approach, the goal is to help companies, teams, and individuals understand goals, set clear goals and achieve them and most importantly, measure the extent to which they stand achieved.

Why are OKRs important?

Setting clear company-level objectives and key results, breaking them down into team OKRs and personal OKRs, allow everyone in the organization to achieve overall goals through smaller goals building up and contributing to the overarching goal. In essence, it gives every individual, team and organization a clear idea of why they are doing what they do and how their efforts contribute to the larger picture.

How do OKRs help achieve goals?

Workforce alignment and common drive

OKRs help define what every individual contributor does, in the process, highlighting how everyone contributes to the overarching goal. When everyone knows that they are working towards a common goal, they are more likely to help each other achieve the objectives as a team. When individuals understand how their contributions add up, they feel more driven to achieve company goals. When everyone is on the same page, you can avoid silos. In other words, departments or teams work not against each other but towards achieving business goals. Clear goal-setting allows every individual part of the team to be aligned.

A great tool to drive accountability

When you’ve successfully set and communicated objectives and key results to everyone, it is taken to understand that everyone knows what they need to do. This clear understanding allows OKRs to create accountability as much for a team as for the individuals.

Adjust to improve

OKRs are set by people, which means they don’t need to be cast in stone. If you find a potentially better way of achieving a goal, tweak your OKRs to accommodate that improvement. However, if it seems like the company-level goals set are too easily achievable, stretch them. Drive more ambitious goals to ensure that everyone performs at an optimum level.

Focus on What is Important

OKRs, by nature, should be clear, well-defined, easy to understand and perhaps, most importantly, limited in number. This clarity in defining OKRs allows you to prioritize, pick and choose the vital goals and measure what matters.

It would be helpful to set clear deadlines for each OKR. Being clear on what you expect and when will help you get people to buckle up and focus. Having just a few OKRs ensures that the necessary focus is on each one, with each one met in the best possible way.

Freezing your key results in OKRs

Now that you understand what OKRs are, let’s explore what freezing key results in your OKRs means.

Keeping your OKRs in view

This definition is more informal jargon than a business term. Many times, great energy and effort go into creating OKRs, with departments often bustling to set new OKRs every quarter! In this process, old OKRs sometimes end up being neglected. Locating these OKRs, especially in large companies with multiple departments, can be a Herculean task.

Freezing OKRs is a way to ensure that the company and the workforce are familiar with the previous OKRs, understanding to what extent they were achieved and ensuring that subsequent OKRs are aligned with previous ones.

Why should you keep your OKRs in view?

  • Understand if they were achieved.
  • Understand how they were achieved.
  • Understand what was not achieved.
  • Understand why they were not achieved.
  • Understand what can be done to ensure OKRs are achieved.
  • Pinpoint areas that were missed.

Essentially, this allows those that set company objectives and key results to track how well each OKR has done and streamline OKRs for the future. The idea is to ensure they are achievable and their success is accurately measured.

Freezing your key results in OKRs – change management

Now let’s move on to what freezing your key results means – in change management. (Keep in mind, while this approach is specific to change management, it could be applied to OKRs as well)

Info Byte: Change management is how organizations help their workforce manage change.

This term is derived from Kurt Lewin’s Three Phase Change Management Model:

  • Thaw (Unfreeze): Here, what he tries to indicate is, shake things up enough to show people that change is necessary and, more importantly, set the arena for change.
  • Shape: This is the second phase, where you define or shape the desired change.
  • Freeze (Refreeze): Once the changes get implemented, this phase involves making them solid or freezing the change.

How does all this apply to OKRs?

Thaw: Break down previous OKRs, understand what they have achieved, understand to what extent these OKRs have been successful, and be clear on where they fell short. (Going back to ‘Keeping your OKRs in view’ – This is only possible if you maintain track of all your OKRs)

Shape: This is where you set your new OKRs. If previous OKRs do not stand achieved, you have to ensure that you adjust your OKRs based on your findings of why they were not. Inversely, if your OKRs get achieved too easily, stretch your goals to ensure that your team works to their full potential.

Important note: Setting OKRs is a vital process that deserves its fair share of due diligence:

  • Here are a few tips for setting good OKRs:
  • Get input from everyone involved
  • Assign accountable individuals to each team
  • Be clear
  • Be concise
  • Focus on a few specific areas (prioritize)
  • Break down overall OKRs into smaller and more specific OKRs
  • Ensure OKRs are easy to understand
  • Communicate OKRs to EVERYONE – make sure everyone is on the same page
  • Monitor closely and adjust where needed
  • Track, dissect and learn from previous OKRs

Freeze: Once you start checking off the list above, you should be on the right track. If your team is working towards each OKR, they should freeze that behavior.

How do you freeze?

  • You freeze the correct behavior by letting people know they are doing the right thing.
  • You maintain a constant track of how each OKR is performing.
  • You share the progress of each OKR and make sure that everyone knows how they have contributed.
  • You reward those that are achieving their goals.

Tracking OKRs and ensuring goals are met

Now that we understand what freezing key results in OKRs means, it is time to move on to the final and perhaps the most crucial part - Ensuring OKRs get tracked and goals met. While you could use an Excel sheet, you have to ask yourself, how long will that be sustainable? What happens when my HR executives change or move into different positions?

The solution is very straightforward; Mesh is an intelligent platform that allows you to have complete insights into every aspect of your team and business. You can set, view, monitor and track every OKR, from an individual to an overall company level.

About the Author

The Mesh Team is a diverse group of passionate professionals at Mesh, dedicated to transforming the world of performance management. Together, we aim to provide you with valuable insights, strategies, and knowledge to empower your journey toward achieving exceptional performance in your organization.
The Mesh Team
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