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There’s clear value in aligning goals at the individual, team, and organizational levels. Priorities are clarified, employees get a sense of how their contributions are building toward higher goals, and everyone feels more connected and pushing in the same direction.
It’s not difficult to align goals, but organizations must be clear and intentional if the goals are to have their intended impact. Communication is key, and employees must get a clear understanding of how their work is benefitting the team and organization.
Simply put, if your organization isn’t aligning goals, you’re at a disadvantage.
For everyone to comprehend their role, leadership and executives must give them the map:
- The company vision and mission inform the strategy, which in turn influences company goals.
- Company goals should paint a picture of what the company wants to achieve in the immediate future.
- Priorities should be clearly illustrated so managers and employees know what types of goals they should be setting.
Team & individual role
With the road map clear, individual and team goals can then be aligned with overall organizational goals. Keep these considerations in mind as individual and team goals are being formed:
- Goals tend to be annual, but they don’t have to be. We prefer shorter goal periods, such as quarterly benchmarks, to keep goals agile. Things are going to change during the year. Employees will likely be added and removed. The economy could shift. Maybe after two months, it appears the original goals aren’t hitting the mark. Setting quarterly goals allows you to make changes on the fly and keep realistic expectations.
- Rather than simply assigning goals to a team or individual, start with a discussion. This gives both parties a clear understanding of the goal and the reasoning behind it while giving the individual a greater sense of ownership. The employee’s benefit could shape the goals as well.
- Clearly communicate where time and effort should be focused. Employees typically have several items on their agendas each day. The better you align goals, the better they can prioritize.
- Encourage goal transparency so all employees and teams understand how their goals are playing into the organization’s benchmarks. This creates a better understanding of the “big picture” and engenders teamwork.
Benefits of aligning goals from top to bottom
- Goals set the tone for your organizational strategy. They communicate what’s important, and all employees act based on those benchmarks. Goals take the company’s overall strategy and break it down into manageable chunks, providing checkpoints along the way to reaching the overall strategic mark.
- Employees get a sense of how their contributions are building toward team and organizational goals. It’s easy for an employee to feel lost and become disengaged when they don’t understand where they fall in the organizational hierarchy. But when their goals are aligned with those of the company, they see the impact of their actions. It gives everyone a role to play and engenders accountability while providing natural points for recognition and celebration of good work.
- Priorities are clarified. Employees have several tasks on their agenda each day, and they’re trusted to choose which should be accomplished first to push the organization forward. When they understand how each task affects the team and organizational goals, it’s easier for them to choose the job that needs their attention first.
- Aligned goals connect employees and teams, giving the organization the feeling that everyone is in this together and is on the same page. Employees become disengaged when they feel they’re a one-man crew. But when everyone understands how their work is contributing to the organization’s main goals, bonds form as everyone works together.