Goal alignment in organisations is a precondition for a successful achievement of your strategic plan goals. In many organisations the strategic plan says one thing and employees are held accountable for completely different things. Individual goals need to be aligned with higher goals in the organisation both vertically and horizontally. Lack of goal alignment is one of the reasons why some companies are not achieving their strategic plan objectives. In addition, very few managers take their time when implementing a performance management system to ensure that goals at every level within the organisation are aligned. This is not something that is difficult, it needs managers to be clear on what they want to achieve in the first place.
Managers are critical in achieving strategic plan goals. The importance is in how managers implement the performance management system. After setting up your goals as a manager the next step is for you to expose these goals to your subordinates. In a number of cases you will find out that managers and their subordinates are working on things that are not complementary. This misalignment of goals can lead to confusion and confrontation. For organisations to realize the benefits of performance management they need to ensure goals are aligned at every level of the organisation. To do this you need to set aside time to check and cross check alignment of goals at the different levels.
When cascading goals downwards you normally start by looking at the organisational goals. From the organisational goals the manager can then set their own goals to support the organisational goals. By doing this you are ensuring that the organization’s priorities are not lost in the day to day running of the business. In the majority of cases we spend a lot of time fighting fires instead of concentrating on the key strategic goals. After having set your goals as a manager you need to meet with all your direct reports and discuss your goals and how as a team they can help you achieve your goals. As such, individual depending on their areas of expertise will be able to pick one or two goals they can work on. When your subordinates are setting their goals they need to focus on goals that they can directly contribute to or have control over. They need to ask themselves this question, “Given their role, which organisational or departmental goals can I influence or contribute to most directly”? To influence or contribute to the organisational goals they will have identified, what specific accomplishments must they achieve? How would they know whether they have successfully achieved those accomplishments?
To be able to cascade goals down managers need to be very clear on how to set goals that will help the organisation achieve its mission. Below I am going to highlight some of the DOs and DON’Ts when setting goals
- Always tie individual goals to the goals of the organisation, department or workgroup.
- You need to set the goals jointly with the person who is going to be appraised
- Gather information so that you can set the goals at the appropriate level.
- Develop specific, measurable goals that are challenging yet realistic
- Ask individuals to come up with actions plans on how they are going to achieve the set goals.
- Gain the appraisee’s understanding and acceptance of each performance goal.
- Don’t set goals without looking at the bigger picture
- Don’t hand an individual; a copy of their goals without discussing these with them
- Don’t develop general or vague goals
- Don’t set too many goals or set trivial goals.
- Don’t ignore the “how” of achieving performance goals.
- Don’t assume your subordinate can read their supervisor’s mind or know what is important to the company.
The importance of performance goals in achieving company goals cannot be overemphasized. Performance goals provide both the appraiser and the appraisee with a criterion needed to objectively discuss, monitor and evaluate performance. We waste our time setting goals on things like teamwork, initiative etc. These dimensions are so hard to objectively assess and measure. If they are important to your organisation, these dimensions can be dealt with in a different forum not related to performance. Clear goals prevent surprises during performance review time. It also helps in reducing misunderstandings between the manager and the employee about what performance results the subordinate is expected to achieve. Having objective goals set jointly with the concerned employee helps the employee to self –monitor progress by providing clear performance targets to aim for.
If only managers can take time to jointly set and agree on goals with their subordinates, performance review times will not be dreaded as they are today in most organisations. If you have decided to introduce a performance measurement and management system it’s most beneficial to do it properly by ensuring that individual goals are aligned with higher level goals.
Memory Nguwi is the Managing Consultant of Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd a management and human resources consulting firm. Phone 481946-48/481950/2900276/2900966 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at www.ipcconsultants.com