Simple yet effective tips for successful goal setting

“How to OKR” is a format taken from our monthly newsletter OKR Insider. To get OKR tips, goal setting hacks, and best practices delivered directly to your mailbox, join our mailing list.


1. Without a metric, it’s not a Key Result

Key Results can be seen as a feedback mechanism for achieving your Objective. Without a metric, deciding whether you achieved an Objective or not is only based on gut feelings. That’s why when goal setting using OKRs, you should make every Key Result measurable.


2. Set OKRs so ambitious that they make goal setting feel uncomfortable

When defining a target for your Key Result, there’s a good rule of thumb: the Key Result should make you feel uncomfortable and getting to 70% should already by impressive. The reason for this is that challenging goal setting unlocks creative thinking, and stretches your capabilities.


3. Ensure everyone in your company uses OKRs

OKR is a goal setting framework that, in theory, only a few people in a company need to use, e.g., leadership and management. However, involving every employee—from intern to CEO–will help you tap the full potential of OKR. After all, you want to connect everyone’s work to the company’s strategy. You want transparency on all levels so that everyone is aware of the company’s top priorities, and how they contribute to them.


4. Make OKRs part of your day-to-day business

Many people misinterpret OKRs as something you set in the beginning of a quarter and don’t touch until the middle or even the end of the same quarter. Instead, you should keep your OKRs top of mind and make them part of your daily processes. Frequently checking in with your goals and updating progress increases transparency, happiness, and your success rate. If you have weekly team meetings for discussing to-dos and evaluating progress, base them on your OKRs. This is how you become a truly goal-driven company.


5. Focus on the Key Results that are actually key

When setting Key Results, it’s crucial that you focus on the most important outcomes. If you’re a SaaS company like Perdoo, an Objective could be to Achieve the steepest revenue growth since launch. SaaS companies have different forms of revenues such as Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR) from new business as well as from accounts expanding. Yet, we should focus on the highest possible denominator for the Objective: in this case the overall MRR.


6. Look at your vision & mission before setting your company-level OKRs

In a perfectly aligned company, all efforts contribute to the mission (the purpose of your organization) and bring you closer to your vision (where you want to be in 5-10 years). If you don’t have a mission or vision yet, it’s about time! Company OKRs should always push the company closer towards realizing its mission & vision, or fix problems that stand in its way. Your mission & vision statements are a great source of inspiration to pick the right Objectives.


7. Use stretch goals with caution

OKR is known the ambitious nature of goals set using the framework. Google already considers 60 or 70% progress toward an Objective successful, reaching 100% is almost impossible. However, stretch goals are not a requirement for OKR programs and can make things more complicated when starting out. If you’re new to Objectives and Key Results and want your team to buy into the new method, consider keeping your targets realistic at first. Once your team is familiar with all the basics of OKR, you can take the next step and start setting out bolder targets.

8. The most successful OKR programs are driven by senior management

Many HR people have identified OKR as a great framework to boost employee engagement and measure performance. However, for OKR to reach its full potential, setting and communicating a clear direction for the entire company is best achieved by senior management. HR can support new processes, educate employees on the OKR framework, and share celebrations, while management provides the focus and motivation for achieving stellar results.


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Maresch Bär

Head of Communications at Perdoo. Besides studying Public Relations in Hanover (DE) he worked for the SaaS startup mediaTest digital, Rocket Internet's in-house agency RCKT, and the advertising agency Dievision. In 2016, he joined Perdoo.

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