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Please note, Goals & Goals Alignment has been divided over 2 parts, & you are currently on one of the elemental parts (Part 2 of 2) For Part 1, refer here. Between these 2 elements, we attempt to elucidate on the most fundamental measure of organizational progress & success (or lack of it) – Goals.
Goals align Organizational excellence at macro level with personal mastery at micro level.
Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline, elucidates one of the five disciplines as personal mastery (the others being systems thinking, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning). Senge equates personal mastery with personal growth and learning, espoused by those who “are continually expanding their ability to create the results in life they truly seek.”
Vision without operational excellence is just a dream. Great enterprises marry a sense of purpose with top percentile operational excellence, institutionalizing processes on how they will go about achieve that vision.
As Don Sull, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, explains: goals are the missing link between strategy and execution. They provide a wire-frame for your company, giving a clear view of what every individual’s role is in moving the needle, realizing the vision & purpose of the organization.
The inter-linkages between goal setting & personal mastery (at micro level) & organizational excellence is so beautiful & deep rooted, that when applied rightly, it often gets organizations results, outside the dominant thinking zone, & by a mile. So, how does the magic happen & personal mastery & organizational mastery, be continuously challenged ?
By setting goals which inherently invoke creative tension within themselves. The real art is in recognizing these tensions, calling attention to them, and capitalizing on these to be challenged by problem solving, critical thinking and impact across entire organization. If done right, it does create a winning circle, and contributing in multiple ways to business metrics.
For example, with one of our high growth client, the pain points were heavy infant attrition (turnover in less than a 1 year of joining), which meant business ran a high risk of disruption & organization had to incur heavy costs on maintaining the bench & unrecovered investments of attriting folks. To apply the principles of creative tension in this case, we focused on Infant Employee Satisfaction score weighted over time – meaning an ESAT of 4 (on 5) in month 6 is much higher than the same ESAT in month 3, infact its doubly valued.
The creative tension is as time in the system increases, the ESAT diminished & turnover was apparent. The challenge to was to maximize this metric in the first 6 months (6 months cos that’s when most new employees develop tendencies of alternate workplace).
The challenge to the system was to maximize this metric in the first 6 months (6 months cos that’s when most new employees develop tendencies of alternate workplace). The next step, post stabilizing this, would then be to focus on Quality of Hire, Cost per Hire & Lead time per hire.
So far we have been discussing about fundamentals of Goals – from alignment to its design etc. What follows is that getting all these pieces to work together and have visibility into them is equally a challenge. Teams get siloed. Communication slows down. And all of a sudden the goals you set aren’t in line with the company vision. But as a team leader, you can change this for the better. “As the team and organizations scales, communication of your values, the stories that illustrate those values, and the context behind the decisions being made are so important,” explains Kelly Graziadei who led product and marketing teams at Facebook for 7 years.
“But communication often falls to the bottom of the priority list. As you scale your teams this must be front and center. With communication comes stories, priorities, and context. Context gives meaning to the work, creates alignment, and gives people the power and confidence to make decisions. Context and good goal setting is critical.” It all starts with communication around what kind of goals you’re setting, your culture of success, and then tying individual objectives to larger team goals and your company vision.
Setting the right priorities and aligned goals are critical for scale. Goals and metrics will align, focus, and motivate your growing teams. Think about goals that the company can align around — DAP, revenue, CSAT, engagement, and retention now and a year from now. When cascading goals from the company level to the individual, ensure they ladder to top-line but translate to goals each given team or function can directly impact. When creating goals and priorities, focus on “the what” / the KPIs and empower the smart, talented folks on the team to drive at the how. This creates the right combination of focus and autonomy.
Hence, its not only important, but critical to choose goals that you can track daily or weekly. You can only move as fast and change course as the speed of your feedback. Communicate about goals, progress, best practices, and wins early and often. Let others know what good looks like. Share and learn from failures and move quickly to correct mistakes.