“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.”
The same applies to organizations. Without goal alignment, your employees could be taking any road to reach their destination, leading to chaos and confusion. Achieving goal alignment presents a unique set of challenges, as it involves multiple moving parts and depends on various circumstances that may be difficult to influence. But by focusing on aligning three key areas of business goals, you can set the stage for success.
3 Pillars of Goal Alignment
Goal alignment involves the marriage of three pillars – organizational goals, team goals, and individual goals. Organizational goals represent the overall objectives of an organization and its stakeholders, while team goals are specific objectives assigned to different departments or teams within a company. Individual goals are the objectives assigned to each employee based on their roles within the team.
By successfully aligning all pillars, teams work in better cohesion, and employees at all levels feel like stakeholders in the company’s success, encouraging them to put in the work to maximize their contributions. So without further ado, here are five integral steps to achieve ultimate goal alignment across a company.
5 Steps to Achieve Goal Alignment
Step 1: Define your goals clearly
Before anything else, you need to define your goals clearly. If goals are vague or unclear, your employees won’t know what they’re working toward. It’s like driving without a destination – you’ll just end up going in circles.
To help kickstart your goal-setting process, start with your One Page Strategic Plan. The plan lays out broader business functions and characteristics, like your core values and purpose statement. It should also analyze your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) to help determine your company’s place in the market and key focus areas. Use this information to decide which goals are relevant and important to your company and whether or not they are realistically attainable.
We recommend using the SMART acronym to guide your goal-setting initiatives – make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Business leaders, including Verne Harnish, are promoters of adding the FAST acronym to your SMART initiatives. FAST goals are frequently discussed (F), ambitious (A), specific (S), and transparent (T). Using both SMART and FAST together will help ensure your goals are truly optimized and no boxes are left unchecked. Having clearly defined goals will make it much easier to effectively communicate them to the rest of the team and help create a comprehensive understanding from the top-down, as we’ll discuss in Step 2.
Step 2: Communicate your goals from the top-down
Now that you have defined your goals, it’s time to communicate them to your employees. Don’t assume that your employees know what your goals are – they’re not mind readers, no matter how much you wish they were. Reiterate your goals consistently so that everyone in your organization remains focused and knows what they’re working toward.
Effectively communicating the initiatives and then welcoming employee feedback about them gives team members the opportunity to see how their individual goals play into those of the organization, and provides a way to identify any misalignments that may cause confusion or set the team back.
Frequent and structured meetings can help improve overall company communication and reinforce helpful habits when it comes to reaching goals. While meetings can often feel like a waste of time, this is due to the fact that they are not structured well. It’s important to understand and communicate the purpose of each meeting, go in with a defined agenda, and leave having assigned action items.
We’ve found that adding an all-hands standup meeting, or daily huddle, helps keep everyone on the same page. This brief meeting creates an outlet to discuss progress, goals, or any other information that needs to be communicated to ensure everyone is aligned on a day-to-day basis.
Huddles and other forms of structured communication will become much more powerful and seamless once you have grasped the next step, breaking down your goals.
Step 3: Break down your goals
Now that your employees understand the goals, it’s time to break them down into actionable steps. Organizational goals can first be broken down into team goals, and then those can be broken down into individual goals.
If your objective is to increase sales by 10% in the next quarter, what does that mean for the sales team, and each sales team member? How can they contribute to that goal? Maybe one person is responsible for increasing sales to a certain demographic, while another is responsible for increasing sales to a certain geographic region.
The breakdown will help make your biggest goals appear far less daunting and way more manageable for the team. Aligning larger goals with smaller, daily objectives helps employees stay focused on the end result, but also motivated to reach the milestones that pave the way.
Assigning responsibilities for each priority also helps provide a more specific sense of direction for employees, ensuring that everyone is clear on their respective roles. Furthermore, it helps drive alignment between individual goals and organizational goals, as employees can clearly see how their own contributions play a role in company-wide success. This connection between goals and large-scale success becomes more evident when the plan is finally put into action.
Step 4: Execute your plan
The execution phase is about putting your plan into action after all that preparation. It can often be the time that employees start to become misaligned, as you realize that your Plan A is not working, some employees may have too much on their plates, and minute details may fall through the cracks.
It’s important to keep a close eye on your progress during this phase and adapt quickly when needed. Monitor goals and tasks regularly and provide feedback so that everyone stays engaged. This is where those daily huddles can really make a difference in keeping everyone on the same page.
In addition to enforcing effective communication, team-building activities can also boost productivity while simultaneously bringing the team together with a rewarding culture. It’s important to celebrate team and individual wins at all levels, from reaching a quarterly quota to completing a daily task. If it drives progress toward the larger goal, it’s worth celebrating. This will also keep motivation levels high and remind employees of their core purpose as team members of the organization, again aligning their individual goals with the big picture.
Once you’re in the swing of execution mode, you’ll need a system for tracking progress to gauge company success at all levels consistently.
Step 5: Track progress
We’ve already mentioned how important it is to manage progress, but you cannot manage what you don’t measure. Without proper tracking techniques, you have no way of knowing what’s working and what’s not.
All successful business leaders will agree that data is a powerful asset to business technique when it comes to tracking progress, but it must be used correctly to see results. Having access to real-time updates at each stage of the execution process allows businesses and teams to stay on top of their targets and determine what needs to be done to reach their goals. It also enables them to catch errors early and pivot if needed. There are a variety of tools available that allow you to track data in real-time, including SaaS tools like Align that have built-in templates and features like KPI dashboards.
Providing visibility into goals and their metrics reinforces the alignment of all team members, as everyone is able to see one another’s progress. This makes it easier to hold yourself and your team accountable for their actions and drive comprehensive alignment. This data-driven approach to progress tracking will bring your biggest goals full-circle and provide clarity around all areas of company performance.
When leaders are able to effectively align organizational, team, and individual goals, unity and cohesiveness will follow. Though it can feel like a daunting feat, it’s actually the simplest way to get everyone rowing in the same direction and see results in the form of improved business performance.
By embracing the power of goal alignment, leaders can foster a unified and motivated workplace culture that will help drive long-term success. So, if you’re looking to build a high-performance team, goal alignment should be at the top of your list.
To learn how Align can help your business achieve ultimate goal alignment across the board, book your demo today.