t’s that time of year when we deploy our yearly goals and objectives (business or personal). Businesses should already have been through planning processes to decide the goals. The challenge now is how to deploy the goals and turn them into objectives for each group within the organization. The objectives of each group should bring them into alignment with the overall company goals. In my experience, I’ve seen organizations struggle with different aspects of this. Some create the goals well. Some deploy the goals well. While others maintain a dogged persistence to stay focused on the goals. But it’s a neat trick to put it all together. It takes organization, persistence, and flexibility to keep yourself in alignment with the goals and objectives. With that in mind, here are Bob’s 5 no-brainers for business alignment of your goals:
1. Communicate the goals to all employees/stakeholders
It seems so simple to say and you’d think a given in the equation. But run a quick informal survey of employees about what the business goals were last year or are for this year and you might be surprised at what you find. This step means delivering the goals down to each individual employee through their management chain. Document the goals in a meaningful format that employees understand and will be able to keep on the top of their daily heap. Most importantly, show the employees how their individual objectives help the overall company achieve its goals.
2. Press forward to the goal by looking ahead
Ask yourself these questions. Am I planning my daily and weekly activities toward based on the stated goals and objectives? Can I articulate how my actions are contributing to achieving the goals and objectives? Looking ahead means being able to plan optimally by knowing the goal in front of you and planning your steps. As with a race, when you look behind you or to the side you’ll slow down or even stumble. This isn’t to say, you shouldn’t pause to reflect on lessons learned from the past. But don’t dwell on mistakes made in the past or you’ll run the risk of misalignment.
3. Base status reports on the objectives
This is very important because it serves as a weekly check for managers and employees to make sure their weekly activities are focused and aligned. An added benefit is that it allows you to review and measure progress. How many times have you come to the end of the year and then decided to measure if you obtained your goal? Worse yet, you don’t know how to measure if you are successful!@#! Aligning your status report documentation with the goals and objectives creates accountability for yourself to stay focused and to make sure you are measuring your progress.
4. Look for different routes to solving the goals
If top level management is setting the higher level goals, then let those closest to the work decide how to solve the goals through specific objectives.This is about trusting your employees to solve problems. It’s about trusting your employees to serve your customers. It also promotes diversity of thought and strengthens employee involvement and satisfaction with their job.
Another potential way to setting specific objectives is to ask your customers how to do it? Yeah, put those surveys to good use. Read them, listen to your customers and provide value to them. Would you rather copy a competitor because they have something you don’t have or create something your customer is telling you would provide value to them?
5. Be prepared to adjust the goals or objectives
The last thing you need is to be locked into a goal that becomes irrelevant. Be flexible and prepared to change goals if they no longer add value to your customers or provide for the betterment of your employees. Perhaps in the periodic measurement you see that you are not going to meet a high level goal for the year. You might add an additional objective that pull different resources to help achieve the original goal. Examples include a new product launch, different product makeup, additional service offering, etc. Even macro level factors could change your goals such as a merger/acquisition, introduction of a substitute product on the market that reduces demand, or sudden changes in interest rates that reduce/increase customer demand. The easy part of this equation is to be flexible. Everyone is flexible if they realize they need to change something to meet a goal. The key is to ‘be prepared’ by monitoring your progress throughout the year. Be ready to adjust if necessary.