January 17, 2010

Set Goals Within Your Employees Line-of-Sight

Your organization has probably just completed your strategic goals for 2010 or is in the process of creating your goals. Goal setting is important to do early in the year and reviewed frequently. The sooner your actions can be steered to achievement of where you want to be, the sooner you can feel the satisfaction of accomplishment.


Your top executives typically set the goals for your organization; however company goals are only effective if every one of your employees know exactly how their work contributes to achievement of the goals. We call that concept "line-of-sight" goal setting. Drawing an imaginary line between the goal and the actions your employees take on a daily basis. Start by asking these questions: Can your employees "see" how their efforts and daily work make an impact on corporate goals? Do they understand the concepts stated in each of the goals?


Quite often company goals are stated strategically such as: 1) Increase profit by 15% or 2) Increase market share by 5%, or 3) Reduce operating costs by 20%. Your organization's CFO or Vice President of Marketing may know exactly what they have to do to achieve these goals but does your receptionist, production operator or mail clerk understand how their jobs impact the organization's objectives? Many of your employees may look at these types of goals and think "this doesn't really pertain to me and my job."


The process of linking goals to everyone in the organization is called cascading goals. Like a waterfall cascades down the stream, goals start at the top and cascade down through your organization. For example the strategic goals created at the top of the organization are first translated by each department head. Then each unit in the department takes the department goals and translates them into useful language and targets. Finally, each manager within the unit works with each employee so they see how they're every day actions can contribute to the goals.


What if your company does not practice cascading goals, can you still apply this concept? Yes, begin by locating your organization's and/or departments goals. Examine the goals and help translate how your employees can make a contribution. Create that line-of-sight for your employees. If you are unsure how to translate a goal, make an appointment with your manager and ask for clarification.


To feel the motivation of success, employees need to know how they contribute to the game. By helping your employees feel part of the game, they will be closely linked to the success of your organization and feel they are making a difference when goals are achieved. Who is more engaged: the person who stands on the sidelines and just watches or the person on the "field" who understands their role and celebrates success when the whole team "scores?"

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