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Goal Alignment: Is it Working?

Posted on January 7, 2010
HeliosWritten by Helios | Email author

Ask each of your employees to name their New Year’s resolutions and you’ll likely hear a wide variety of responses, reflecting the breadth, depth and interests of the talent you employ. But if you ask them where your company is headed in 2010, and what the organization’s top goals are for the coming 12 months, will you also get varied responses across your workforce, or will you hear one consistent reply?

Most importantly, if you ask each of them how their job and responsibilities tie in to the organization’s 2010 goals, can they respond without hesitation? Do they know how their contributions impact the company’s success? If so, you’ve likely done a great job of communicating clearly and consistently, and the new year is the time to reinforce key messages with renewed clarity and purpose.

However, if employees are not clear on where your organization is headed in 2010, and how they each play a part reaching the company’s goals, the new year brings with it the opportunity to re-align the contributions of each employee toward the same end goal; to ensure that everyone is rowing together, in the same direction, and toward the same destination.

Every person you employ has a distinct and important role to play in achieving the organization’s overall success. Their ability to do so relies in part on ensuring they have accurate and clear information to ensure their efforts are most effectively aligned with the company’s as a whole.

Senior leadership can restate and reinforce key organizational plans, goals, objectives and challenges in the year ahead so that every employee knows the answers to: where are we now, and where do we plan to be in 12 months from now? What is our focus for 2010, i.e. grow revenues? Maximize profits? Increase market share? Ensure superior client support and service delivery?

Next, managers’ roles are critical: to help each of their direct reports translate the organization’s goals into their individual jobs. Managers can help ensure that each employee is able to answer, “How does what I do today impact the bottom line, and the organization’s success?” by working together with employees to carefully set – or revisit – individual goals aligned to these outcomes. This means combining the familiar, tried and true “SMART” goals formula – Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound – with the often ignored but critical TOPS – Tied to Organizational Priorities and Success.

Ultimately, this collaborative process should be owned by both manager and employee, with the employee accountable for achieving the goals, and the manager accountable for ensuring the employee has the tools, resources, and requisite experience, skills and expertise to accomplish them. Both employee and manager alike should be able to easily articulate what success would look like if goals were achieved.

If your company conducts annual performance reviews in January as many organizations do, you already have a mechanism in place to review past performance and goals, clarify organizational priorities, and to set new goals in the year ahead. If your organization conducts performance evaluations on a rolling basis or at a set time in a different point in the year, you can still take advantage of the new year to reinforce clear messages organization-wide, and hold check-in meetings or discussions with each employee. Either way, invest in the time and effort as 2010 begins to ensure that each person’s efforts are in synch and tied to the same end goals you hope to achieve by 2011. ~ Jacqueline Dendievel, Practice Leader, Helios HR

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