Most of us are familiar with the concept of SMART goals -- goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. But specifying SMART goals on a larger scale is more difficult, especially in terms of organizational goals. The main problem? It's rare to have everyone on the same page.
In September 2015, Achievers released The Greatness Gap: The State of Employee Disengagement report with some startling finds: The majority -- more than 60 percent -- of the 397 employees surveyed said they didn’t know their company’s mission, vision or values.
This illustrated the staggering disconnect that plagues workplaces today: Employers are failing to align employees with their organizational goals.
When employees don’t know their company's mission, vision or core values, they are left with a lack of direction. Instead, they need to be aware of how their projects fit into the overall organizational framework and how their specific contributions impact company strategy.
The key here is alignment. Employees at all levels need to be aligned on their companies' larger goals, and those goals need to be broken down to a smaller scale to ensure that people remain engaged in day-to-day operations.
Here are the elements for building a successful organizational-goal alignment strategy:
1. Feedback is consistent.
Managers who consistently provide feedback can help keep employees focused on their performance. Feedback acts as a reminder. Without it, employees get too caught up in their daily tasks and lose sight of the bigger picture.
Feedback about performance typically looks at how someone’s work affects other people in that employee's job area. An effective discussion will include and address the company’s overall strategy.
Employees see the value in feedback, as well. Workboard found that 72 percent of employees surveyed thought their performance would improve with more feedback. Job feedback should focus on growth and forward thinking by and how employees can learn from their mistakes.
In other words, feedback should be corrective. In a January 2014 survey, the Harvard Business Review found that 57 percent of 899 respondents preferred corrective feedback, and 72 percent said their performance would improve if managers provided such corrective feedback.
Additionally, employers should seek feedback from their staff. If employees feel that they aren’t informed properly or are missing information, they should be able to speak up.
If, for example, a tenured employee finds new directives to be off track, he or she should be able to express concerns and ask how a particular project contributes to the overall organizational goals.
2. Tasks are properly allocated.
Employees should know their role in each of their projects. To help them do this, you can use visuals to explain the company's overall strategy and how each role advances toward its goals. Some project-management platforms provide real-time goal-tracking and present it in charts and graphs to demonstrate individual and group progress.
It’s also important to assign the right tasks to the right people. Use feedback and performance reviews to understand each employee’s level of competency and what his or her strengths are, to maintain and even improve productivity. If particular employees excel at closing sales deals, put them on the front line on client presentations.
Tasks, further, should challenge an employee to grow. Consistent feedback lets employers know their employees' plan to evolve, which in turn informs the assignment of projects. If, for example, a tenured employee wants to expand his or her skill set and learn more about research and development, the employer can integrate that individual's role with that department.
Bottom line: Great companies help employees set and achieve their individual goals and align those personal goals with the overall goals of the organization. The best-case scenario is a team of employees who are engaged enough to want to grow within the company and help it evolve toward the vision that's been set.
3. Everyone gets recognized.
In the 2015 Employee Recognition Report by the Society for Human Resource Management and Globoforce, 90 percent of the 823 HR professionals surveyed said an employee recognition program positively impacted engagement.
Engagement is essential to keep a company growing and reaching for its vision. When employees aren’t recognized, they lose track of their purpose. But in contrast, when wins are celebrated, employees want to win more.
A simple expression of gratitude, such as a thank-you note or gift, shows employees that management is paying attention and notices that they are consistently working hard and succeeding at their individual goals.
When recognizing top talent, explain how employees' efforts are pushing the company toward large-scale goals. Show how their performance is meeting and exceeding expectations to encourage more hard work and dedication.
It’s not easy to translate large, wide-reaching organizational goals into smaller, everyday tasks while not losing sight of the big picture. But it’s not impossible, either. Consistently checking in with employees individually, recognizing their efforts and reminding them of their purpose is what constitutes a successful organizational goal-alignment strategy.