Goals/OKRs: Don’t Set and Forget

According to Paul Niven and Ben Lamorte, authors of “Objectives and Key Results: Driving Focus, Engagement, and Alignment with OKRs,” the OKR methodology serves as a “critical thinking framework and ongoing discipline” that encourages collaborative efforts among employees, channeling their actions to create measurable contributions that drive organizational progress. 

An objective signifies a goal pursued by the organization, team, or individual. Objectives address the question, “What do we aim to accomplish?” and are characterized by their qualitative and time-bound attributes. A key result outlines the approach to achieve an objective. Key results address the question, “How will we assess our objective achievement?” and are defined by their quantitative and concrete nature.

Many of you are likely acquainted with OKRs and may even be familiar with the definitive book on the subject: “Measure What Matters” by John Doerr. Integrating OKRs in an organization brings substantial benefits, boosting focus and accountability across teams. However, adhering strictly to the OKR methodology can pose challenges, especially for lean-resource organizations. This complexity emerges from accurately managing all OKRs, a task that could become a full-time responsibility.

If you’re still optimistic and willing to try OKRs, we’ve got you covered. Download our free OKR and Performance Management e-book.  Our Goal management app can also help you upgrade your Smart Sheet or other spreadsheet to a cleaner, more efficient way to track your OKRs.

In this article, we’ll use the terms “goals” and “OKRs” interchangeably, as they often refer to the same concept. Goals/OKRs provide a means to achieve business objectives while fostering employee motivation and collaboration.

While setting goals is advantageous for organizations, merely establishing them without a plan to monitor progress will not yield the desired results. It can be easy to “set and forget” unless there are structured accountability measures in place.

Here are our 3 recommended best practices for setting and achieving goals organization-wide:

Set OKRs/Goals Aligned to your Mission, Vision, and Strategy

Linking OKRs/goals to the organizational mission ensures their relevance and significance. Purposeful goal-setting also increases employee engagement by inviting all team members to contribute to and align with long-term business strategies. This creates shared purpose across all levels of the organization, as everyone can see how their daily efforts make a tangible difference.

However, before creating goals based on your mission, vision, and strategy, you must first define and communicate them clearly.

  • Mission: The organization’s core purpose and its ultimate reason for existence.
  • Vision: The future the organization strives to achieve in 3, 5, 10, or 50 years. A vision is just wishful thinking without a plan in place.
  • Strategy: How the vision will be achieved by defined, long-term priorities. A sound strategy is not just about saying yes to one thing. It’s also about saying no to everything that does not progress the mission and vision.


We built WorkDove’s performance and talent management platform around an organization’s mission, vision, values, and strategic initiatives because this step is so critical. We even include templates to help you define each of these elements.

Once you have a clear framework in place, you can translate your mission, vision, and strategy into executable goals.

Track and Achieve Your Goals

Chris Voss said, “Yes without a how is irrelevant.” Goal setting is not complete unless it is followed by a solid process and system for tracking progress. This “how” gives everyone the tactical plan they need to achieve their goals beyond just sheer willpower.

In many businesses, a digital system is the best way to track goals. Technology can help you save time and improve communication. A digital platform can help you track your goals in one place, which can make it easier to stay accountable and collaborate with your team.

If you don’t have the budget for a digital platform, you can still track your goals manually.  In that case, what exactly should be tracked and how? Here are our goal tracking recommendations:

    • Start and end date 
    • Person responsible 
    • Contributors 
    • Title of the goal
    • Measurement metric (How is this OKR/goal measured? Percent, unit, currency, etc.)
    • Additional information
    • Cascading Goals
      • Some organizations track goals at multiple levels. For example, individual goals can be aligned with department goals, which can be aligned with organizational goals. This helps everyone see how their work contributes to the overall success of the company.

One-On-One Goal Tracking Meetings

One of the most important aspects of goal tracking is ensuring that team members are accountable to their commitments. One-on-one meetings between managers and employees at an agreed-upon frequency can help to initiate candid conversations and create opportunities for further alignment. Additionally, weaving goal tracking into check-ins is a strategic way to equip employees with the help and resources they need to complete their OKRs. This also gives managers specific feedback for coaching conversations.

We recommend including goal tracking as an agenda item in check-in meetings and conducting these meetings at least monthly. This allows for a flexible but consistent schedule that sets clear expectations while also providing time for employees to share challenges, ask questions, and celebrate their accomplishments.

For example, the WorkDove Goals app automatically integrates with the Check-Ins app. This means that employees can complete their check-ins and update their goals in one place, making it easy to track their progress and stay on track. The check-in conversation that follows can then focus on intentional coaching and goal alignment.

The bottom line is that you shouldn’t set your goals and then forget about them. Mission-driven goal setting paired with a thorough system for OKR tracking can help team members across your organization contribute to driving the collective vision forward.

Ready to hit your goals and take your organization to the next level?