OKR Goal Setting Steps: The 5 Keys to Goal Setting

By Tiffany Chepul

Goal Setting

dateTue, Nov 22, 2022 @ 11:02 AM

Goal setting is both a skill and an art. Whether you are new to the goal-setting game, or a seasonedgoal setting pro, there is always room for improvement.  One of the most used aspects of our strategy execution platform is the company goal-setting software.

When writing goals, use these 5 keys to goal setting to drive better results.

Goal Setting Step 1: Write your goal and keep it simple

Start by writing your goal in a clear, action-oriented way. It should start with a verb and state exactly what you are going to do and by when. Let’s start with one example and work it through the 5 steps.

Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

OKR Goal Setting Step 2: Set your success criteria and leave nothing up to interpretation

Each goal you write should also have clear Red-Yellow Green success criteria. Green is success. Red is failure. Yellow is a range between the two. SuperGreen is your stretch goal.

Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

SuperGreen: 20 sales reps trained & operating independently

Green: 20 sales reps hired & training in progress

Yellow: Any scenario between Green and Red

Red: Less than 16 reps hired

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Goal Setting Step 3: Align vertically and horizontally

Think about how your goal impacts others. What you are doing should be aligned with your Company and your Team. Also, if you need support to accomplish your goal from other departments, it should be discussed during your planning session. Make sure you can get the resources you need to complete your priority successfully.

Consider: Who will you need help from to complete this priority? Does someone on your team need a supporting priority to help with interviewing and training? Do you need help from another department (in this case, HR) and are they aligned on your timeframe and success criteria? Do they have the bandwidth to help?

Goal Setting Step 4: Record milestone Actions and visualize successful execution

Think through what execution looks like on your goal. Record a few milestone actions, including the owner and due dates. There should be at least 3 Actions, but feel free to add more if it’s helpful.  Read our full blog article on implementing OKRs in your organization.

Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

Due 7/15: Post Job Description online and pool resumes (John)

Due 8/15: Conduct interviews & make offers (Jane)

Due 9/5: Training and onboarding begins (Sue)

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Goal Setting Step 5: Status your goal weekly and make adjustments

Success of every goal depends on strong weekly execution. You have to keep moving the ball forward every week. Pick a status color for your goal each week based on your best forecast. Is it on track to being Green by your due date? Have you hit roadblocks and think it will end up Yellow or Red by your due date? You are the advocate for your goal. If the goal needs help to get unstuck, you are accountable for getting it the resources it needs. If your goal is Yellow or Red, make sure it gets discussed at your team’s weekly meeting. As a team, come up with a plan to get it back on track to Green.  No matter how great you are at goal planning, you need to make adjustments as needed to stay on track.

Example Goal: Hire and train 20 new sales reps by end of September

Weekly status for 7/29: Green - job description is posted, we are getting great resumes and interviews have started.

Weekly status for 8/12: Red - Interviews have netted only 13 accepted offers. HR, can you help with some additional recruiting?

Weekly status for 9/7: Yellow - we have 17 hired who are currently in training. Hoping to hear back from 4 more offers by 9/15, but no guarantees.

Weekly status for 9/20: Green - we have 20 hired and in process with training. Thanks everyone for the help!

goal setting software

Following this goal setting process will increase your likelihood of successfully achieving your goals - whether they are MBOs, OKRs, Annual Initiatives, Quarterly Priorities, or even your personal goals. Solid execution of your goals comes down to starting with clear expectations, ensuring alignment, breaking the goal down into action steps, practicing weekly accountability, and making adjustments to achieve success. We've tested this process with hundreds of thousands of goals executed by our clients in the Rhythm software, and it is a proven formula for success.


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Looking for some additional OKR examples to help get you started? 

OKR vs KPI: What’s the Difference Between OKRs and KPIs and Why You Need Both?

OKR Spreadsheets: Why You Should Upgrade Your OKR Software Game

OKR vs KPI vs MBO: What the Best Goal Types Have in Common

Using OKRs for Your Weekly Team Meeting

OKR Video: How to Get Started with OKRs and the Best OKR Software

OKR Examples for Manufacturing: Measure What Matters for the Quarter

Using Red Yellow Green Performance Indicators Examples That Are SMART

SMART Goal Setting Theory: To Create SMART Goals, Start With “Why”


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images

Tiffany Chepul


Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images