All businesses share a primary goal: Success. Goal setting, aligning and tracking those goals through actions and results are critical to greater business execution.
Most organizations see a dramatic increase in employee and business performance when they effectively set individual employee goals and closely tie them to the company’s overall strategy.
The process of setting goals should be a collaborative process between an employee and his or her manager. Whether writing long- or short-term goals, the most widely-used framework is S-M-A-R-T.
- Specific: Well-defined to inform employees exactly what is expected, when, and how much. With specific goals, managers can easily measure progress toward goal completion.
- Measurable: Provide milestones to track progress and motivate employees toward achievement.
- Attainable: Success needs to be achievable with effort by an average employee, not too high or too low.
- Relevant: You should focus on the greatest impact to the overall company strategy.
- Time-bound: Establish enough time to achieve the goal, but not too much time to undermine performance. Goals without deadlines tend to be overtaken by the day-to-day crises.
Goal alignment is critical for business success. It ensures that each person within your organization can see the direction for the business and know how their job fits in with the “Big Picture”. To achieve goal alignment in your organization, you must first clearly communicate your strategic business objectives across the entire company. By allowing managers to access and view the goals of other departments, your organization can greatly reduce redundancy while finding better ways to support each other. With everyone working together toward the same objectives, your company can execute strategy faster, with more flexibility and adaptability. Essentially, goal alignment strengthens your leadership and creates organizational agility by allowing managers to:
- Focus employees’ efforts on your company’s most important goals;
- Understand more clearly all responsibilities associated with specific goals; and
- Strengthen accountability by assigning measurable, articulated goals visible company-wide.
Once you’ve established your company-wide and individual goals, the next step is tracking progress on those goals. It’s important for employees to track their progress on goals because they need to have the information available during the all-important review process. Additionally, managers need to be aware of progress on goals to step in with assistance or resources when it appears that goal targets will possibly be missed. Having this information handy is also helpful when management is not aware of all of the steps involved in reaching a goal and strong documentation assists you in discussions of past projects and successes when review time rolls around. Tracking your goals in a centralized location helps you stay on track in several ways:
- Organize, manage and reassess your goals frequently
- Create action plans with milestones for larger goals
- Track your time to make sure your daily efforts are focused on meaningful tasks