How to Make Goals/OKRs Part of Performance Reviews


Collaboration between managers and employees, creating SMART goals, tracking goals throughout the review cycle, measuring goal progress in performance reviews, and utilizing a goal management platform are the best ways to make goals/OKRs a part of performance reviews.

Goals/OKRs in Performance Reviews

Effective goal management has always been a direct line to business success. Tracking goals and OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) is ubiquitous among organizations, yet according to Collato, 90% of businesses fail to reach strategic goals. If goal setting and tracking are so common and are understood to be critical to success, why do so many go unaccomplished?

In this blog post, we will delve into why goals often fall short, while also exploring how the integration of goals in performance reviews can greatly enhance success.

Why Do Organizations Fail to Reach Goals?

With goal setting/OKRs deeply embedded into corporate culture, it can feel like a mystery as to why so many goals are unmet. There are a few major reasons why this occurs:

  • Lack of visibility– A PR Newswire article shares that 92% of American workers would work harder if their colleagues could see their goals. When colleagues and leaders have visibility into their goals, employees are more likely to produce results, compared to when they solely hold themselves accountable.
  • Lack of goal progress updates– Creating goals is only half of the battle. When managers do not incorporate goal progress discussions into their employee one-on-ones/check-ins, goals can become easily forgotten and neglected. 
  • Goals not tied to mission and vision– When goals do not align with the mission and vision, employees find themselves struggling against the current, working towards objectives that contradict the purpose of their role.
  • No reliable goal management system– Paper or manual goal-setting without modern, reliable software for creating, tracking, and seeing how goals are progressing wastes time and energy and does little to keep employees motivated. 
  • Goals are not tied to performance reviews– Perhaps the number one reason for goal failure is an absence of goals in performance reviews. When goal/OKR progress is not measured, employees are not held accountable and they miss out on receiving coaching to help them grow and develop. Managers are also held accountable for the goal accomplishments of their teams, and when there are no goals in performance reviews, it can be difficult to trace why expectations were unmet.

What is the Importance of Goals in Performance Reviews?

Excellent performance management practices will embrace continuous feedback throughout the year so that the performance review is a documented summary of feedback conversations that have already occurred. Continuous feedback will include intentional manager and employee 1:1s that discuss performance, workplace behaviors, and goals. The performance review discussion should be no different. For a holistic, comprehensive performance review, managers should be able to provide praise and coaching for all employee efforts, including goal progress. 

By integrating goals/OKRs into continuous feedback practices and, as a result, performance reviews, organizations can alleviate the primary reasons why goals are not achieved. These best practices not only provide visibility into the progression of goals but also increase the likelihood of aligning goals/OKRs with the mission and vision of the organization. Additionally, employees can receive the coaching they both desire and deserve, leading to greater success in goal attainment. When intuitive goal management software like WorkDove is utilized, goals are integrated into the performance review, allowing them to be effectively tracked and measured.

How to Make Goals a Part of Performance Reviews

As we have established the importance of integrating goals/OKRs in performance reviews, the next question to answer is how to strategically do that well. The list below provides clarity and best practices for creating, tracking, and measuring goals leading up to and during the performance review. 

1. Collaboration Between Managers and Employees

The ideal scenario for creating goals and OKRs is for an open conversation between managers and employees. For employees to truly take ownership of their commitments, and for managers to effectively coach and guide their employees, forming goals should be a joint effort. This also ensures there are no surprises when it comes to performance review time because both parties are well aware of the expectations required. 

2. Create SMART Goals

Subscribing to the SMART goals framework (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound) mitigates the potential for goals being too ambiguous to track well. Giving this level of context to goals leaves no room for questions about how, when, or why it should be accomplished. The SMART format makes assessing goals at performance review time simplistic and clear.

3. Goal Tracking Throughout the Review Cycle

As previously mentioned, continuous feedback is critical to goal/OKR success. Including goal updates in manager and employee check-ins/one-on-ones allows both parties to openly discuss challenges, accomplishments, or adjustments that need to be made. Consistent and frequent goal updates ensure that the performance review is a true evaluation of what has or has not been completed.

4. Measure Goal Progress in the Performance Review 

Measuring the completion of goals in performance reviews is essential to reaching intended business results. It shows employees that their efforts are highly valued and that they will be held accountable for their responsibilities. Furthermore, it serves as a powerful reminder to employees that achieving their goals directly impacts the organization’s ability to realize its vision and fulfill its mission. This reinforces the crucial role they play in the overall success of the company. WorkDove’s performance management software allows goals to be included in the Performance-Values Matrix, where goals make up the y-axis and workplace behaviors make up the x-axis. Managers provide star ratings for each of the employee’s goals and core values which the tool then uses to plot them on the matrix. Employees receive a final score for both goals and core values, indicating their level of accomplishment for each.

Performance-Values matrix

5. Utilize a Goal Management Platform

Attempting to foster an environment that places value on goal/OKR tracking is very difficult without a reliable software solution. Goal management platforms, especially those that allow for goals in performance reviews, provide a way for goals to be visible to key contributors. When leaders have insight into goal progression for individuals, teams/departments, and the organization as a whole, it results in better, more informed business decisions can be made. Goal/OKR management platforms make that level of understanding possible. 

How WorkDove Integrates Goals with Performance Reviews

WorkDove is not only equipped with powerful dashboards and reports for visualizing goal progress but also integrates goals into performance check-ins and performance reviews. You can save time and money by easily assigning, managing, and updating team and individual goals while automatically notifying goal owners.

Using the simple or cascading goals/OKRs functions, team members are aligned to the organization’s ultimate mission by connecting individual achievements to business outcomes. Goal management platforms like WorkDove inspire and engage employees. Learn how your organization can incorporate goals in performance reviews with WorkDove today!

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