This is a guest article by Sean Conrad.
Many executives think that because they have set high-level organizational goals and are regularly reviewing progress and designated metrics for these, their whole organization is working toward and accountable for achieving those goals. But in many organizations, that’s not the case.
In The Strategy-Focused Organization, Robert Kaplan and David Norton state“A mere 7% of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them in order to help achieve company goals.”
Where do your employees stand?
Here are two things you can do to drive accountability for goals in your organization:
- Link employee goals to organization goals the right way.
Whether your employees are engaged with organizational goals and accountable for their achievement all depends on how you set and manage goals throughout the organization. If you cascade goals down the traditional way, with each successive level of employee being assigned goals that support their manager’s, the employees at the lower end of totem pole will feel completely disconnected from the organizational goals at the top.
An approach that drives better engagement and accountability is to have employees involved in setting their goals, and have them link their individual goals directly to the high-level organizational goals they’re intended to support. This best-practice organization centric model of goal alignment makes organizational goals visible to all employees and gives employees the larger context they need to see and feel that their contributions are important and valued. But that alone doesn’t drive deep accountability.
- Regularly review and communicate the status of all goals.
While most executives monitor progress on organizational goals, most organizations don’t apply the same rigor to employee goals.
Employees don’t do things that don’t bring them value or that other people don’t care about. If you want your employees to accomplish their goals and be accountable for achieving both their goals and the organization’s, you need to regularly review employee goals and check on their status. An annual performance appraisal won’t cut it. You need to ask every employee to regularly update their manager and the organization about their progress and the status of their goals. And you need to regularly communicate the status of organizational goals to all employees.
In Strategic HR and Talent Management: Predictions for 2012, Bersin & Associates “discovered that companies which regularly revisit their goals (quarterly or even more often) dramatically outperform those which create annual cascading-goals.” They found that “companies that revise and update goals quarterly generate more than 30 percent greater impact from their performance management processes than those which implement the old-fashioned annual review.”
So here, the old adage holds true: What gets measured gets done. If you truly want to drive accountability for goals deep into your organization, you need a management culture and processes that require employees to regularly review and update the status of their goals, and a method to communicate that up and down the reporting chain. If there is no required updating, and no accountability for making progress on goals, that demonstrates to employees that no one really cares. So they’ll focus their time and efforts on the things they think their manager cares about—which are not necessarily things that support the achievement of organizational goals.
Many organizations put all their effort and focus on the process of setting goals and forget that this is just the first step. While they’ll monitor the progress and status of high-level organizational goals, they fail to do the same for employee goals. But to be successful in achieving your organizational goals and to drive accountability right to the lowest levels of the organization, you need to monitor progress and update goal status not only at the top level, but at all levels of the organization.
Sean Conrad works and writes for Halogen Software, a leading provider of software that helps companies implement performance management and talent management best-practices.
You can read more of his thinking on the Halogen Exploring Talent Management blog.