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3 Key Areas of Focus to Optimize Goal Setting

We all have the ‘ugh’ moment when it’s time to set annual goals. How do we align our day-to-day work tasks with the overall company vision? Threading the goal setting needle between the individual, team and company is an unremitting challenge.

Determination - Media from WiX
Determination - Media from WiX

However, if mastered, it CAN build momentum and energize your team to bring your company vision to life. An optimal goal-setting process effectively aligns with your business strategy and successfully engages employees at all levels.

The Harvard Business Review article ‘Making Sure Your Employees Succeed’ reinforces the importance of engaging employees in goal setting. It states, “For goals to be meaningful and effective in motivating employees, they must be tied to larger organizational ambitions. Employees who don’t understand the roles they play in company success are more likely to become disengaged.”

So how DO you engage your organization to create meaningful, inspiring and manageable goals that align with your company vision and nurture motivation?

Here are 3 key areas of focus to optimize your goal-setting process:

1. Clearly articulate your company vision & company goals

First, communicate your long-term company vision to the organization, over and over. This keeps the organization focused and guides your team to create valuable, impactful goals.

With your long-term strategy in mind, set both annual and quarterly company goals that reflect priorities for the coming year and communicate them to the organization. The specific quarterly goals will help drive short term wins throughout the year. Everyone in your organization should be able to articulate the company vision and goals.

2. Positively engage employees in the goal setting process.

Goals set with a punitive purpose are destructive. If you administer the goal setting process with positive intent, your organization will be positioned ahead of most competitors. When goals are managed via trust, ownership and accountability, the goal setting process will be commended; not condemned.

To establish specific company, team and individual goals, requires effective communication and collaboration between leadership, management and employees that reinforces team work, alignment and common purpose. This illustrates threading the goal setting needle. It highlights that everyone, at all levels, has an active role in achieving objectives. This will ultimately increase the success rate of achieving your long-term strategy.

Something to consider when setting individual goals - In the Harvard Business Review article ‘Making Sure Your Employees Succeed’, Srikant M. Datar, the Arthur Lowes Dickinson Professor of Accounting at Harvard University explains, “when done well, stretch goals create a lot of energy and momentum in an organization.” It is important for employees to understand how their individual contribution supports the broader company strategy and they should be able to articulate it.

3. Solicit insights about progress and stay on track.

Leaders can harness the power of metrics by soliciting insights regularly on how goals are progressing. Managers can utilize a weekly ‘check in’ with their direct reports and quickly escalate any issues to the appropriate levels.

When you receive feedback that a goal may not be achieved, address it quickly to mitigate greater risk to the organization. Work with the goal owner to understand what is needed in the way of resources to keep the goal on track. When you meet goals, share the success with the organization. These conversations foster agility, trust and collaboration among your teams.

By having an effective goal setting process within your organization, you establish a universal language related to goals and measures of success. You gain insights to predict, plan and adjust when needed. And, most importantly, your organization remains focused on the big picture – which is desired outcomes to achieve your long-term strategy, faster.


About Writer

Becky Vinton - talent strategist with over 20 years' experience improving the effectiveness of organizations and enhancing employee experience as a global human resources leader and business consultant. She holds an MBA Degree and several certifications including Human Capital Strategist by the Human Capital Institute.




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