Life at Toast Blog

3 Tips for Writing Impactful OKRs


Sam D.

Chief of Staff, CIO


Summer is a time for resetting and recharging: Toasters are enjoying summer vacations and our flexible PTO, teams are planning their work for the next quarter, and everyone at the organization is setting goals for the second half of the year. As we embark upon the next few months ahead, it’s important that we take time to set impactful goals that continue to set us up to execute and deliver on our mission.

During a recent company-wide meeting, we discussed  the importance of durable, efficient growth. At Toast, we’re constantly striving to ensure that Toasters across every level understand how their everyday work ties to our broader company goals and helps us deliver on this durable, efficient growth at scale. We can accomplish this by managing results through an Objective and Key Result (OKR) process. OKRs and how we manage them may look different for each team, but ultimately, this should create alignment, transparency, focus and motivation.

As you plan out your OKRs for the rest of the year, use the tips below to increase your impact and tie your work back to our company goals.


1. Understand the difference between Objectives and Key Results.

Before diving into goal setting, it’s important to understand the OKR framework that we use in order to set goals. Objectives are the ‘what’ we want to accomplish and where we aspire to go – they break up big missions into actionable goals and milestones. Key results are the ‘how’ we’ll achieve our objectives’ – they’re the benchmarks through which you’ll track progress.

Great objectives are clear on the intent and direction of what you want to accomplish, while key results answer the question: “Did we achieve our objective?” 


2. Use strong, action-driven verbs in your key results.


Key results should capture exactly how you’ll accomplish your objectives. They should be:

  • Measurable and quantifiable - key results should be measurable with one metric to track (Think: how are we going to prove progress/success?)
  • Objectively gradable - Numbers quantifying an end state or outcome, not action items or opinions
  • Actionable - The team should be able to take clear, measurable steps to achieve the key results through a defined set of initiatives
  • Challenging (not business as usual) - They should be the best possible results ora stretch goal to move the needle on performance and build momentum
  • Collectively they answer “Did we achieve the objective?” - For each objective, provide 3-5 specific, measurable quarterly outcomes that taken together verify you’ve met the objective


3. Focus on the impact you want to make individually, within your team, and for the organization.


At Toast, we all play a role in delivering on our mission. We are all responsible for mixing our individual ingredients to drive the restaurant industry forward – and our goal setting should reflect that ambition. Toast’s approach to OKRs connects the overall company goals to departmental objectives and key results, and then to individual team members’ key results. Your goals should capture concrete milestones and focus on the impact you can deliver to guide your personal growth, team growth, and Toast growth. 


A couple of recommendations to bring OKRs to life with your team and to connect your impact to the broader Toast mission:

  • Intake - Develop processes to quickly identify and prioritize goals.
  • Align - Create cross-functional checkpoints to align and commit for a set period of time
  • Monitor - Monitor progress and run “sprints” to course correct when a Key Result is off track
  • Communicate - Identify how you will communicate OKRs within your team. Best practices include reviewing in team meetings, 1:1s, career conversations, performance reviews, etc.

We are each a piece of the Toast puzzle,  and when brought together, we bring to life the story of Toast. By coming together and setting impactful goals across the organization, we are able to grow both personally and professionally, allowing Toasters to make an impact on our mission, helping both the restaurant industry and Toaster community thrive.


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