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A Crucial Component To Organizational Success

Inspire Software

Employee engagement stems from accomplishment and accountability. There’s no better way to gauge success than setting goals and tracking their progress. Goals can be set for the organization, departments and teams, and on an individual basis.

Goal-setting facilitates better conversations between managers and their employees, between team members and collaborators, and helps individuals understand how their role fits into the greater business strategy. Goals help empower employees to self-develop. Organizations will see greater personal success, higher-performing teams, and increases to their overall productivity and bottom line.

The result? Increased employee engagement, higher retention rates, and an organizational culture in which employees want to stay and thrive.

What You'll Learn

  1. Why should leadership be a priority?
  2. What role does leadership development play in optimizing performance?
  3. Which leadership strategy is right for my organization?
  4. How can leadership development boost engagement and retention?
Corporate Goals Should Include:
  • Clear Communication
  • Defined Perspective
  • Sustainable Growth
  • Individual Autonomy

Set Corporate Goals as a Framework

Corporate goals are different in nature than those that are set for an individual or team. They are a critical resource to close the gap between large organizational strategies and effective execution of those strategies.

Much more than just generating revenue or cost savings, corporate goal-setting should address larger strategic business objectives. Key objectives like increased customer satisfaction, stockholder value, revenue goals, and other outcomes that demonstrate real business results should be used to define larger corporate goals. These goals become the framework upon which you take your organization to the next level.

Corporate Goals Inform Individual Goals

Setting up steps or processes without an overarching goal with which to align them leads to wasted productivity. Despite the best intentions, a goal that’s set without being communicated to individuals in a way that is motivating, engaging, and relevant to their own priorities and needs can lead to stagnation. Misaligned goals can result in a gap between what the organization wants to achieve and what it actually produces.

For a successful framework, a corporate goal should include measurable steps and milestones. These goals should outline what the organization needs to achieve and will illustrate how everyone across the organization can understand and visualize their progress toward the desired result. Make the steps clear and reachable, communicate them throughout the organization by embedding them in your performance process, maintain transparency and accountability for work completed, and recognize success as it is achieved. Create a process for achievement at the corporate level, which can then be implemented organization-wide to increase the odds of attaining the end strategy.

Your corporate goals should:

  • Communicate clearly: Individuals and teams should be able to understand how their own goals contribute to the company strategy. This can be achieved by providing examples of how individuals and teams should align their goals to the larger objectives and why. The examples used should promote a sense of teamwork and connection to leadership, and they should serve to help your employees understand, buy into, and passionately contribute to the big picture success.
  • Define and maintain perspective: Don’t lose the connection to current realities that could disrupt your success or help you define processes inside the framework of your specific business. Making decisions outside of a realistic perspective can set up your organization to miss opportunities for growth or new ways of doing business. Define what your business is, what it can do, and make goals that maintain the perspective of what is most urgent and realistic.
  • Sustain growth: An organization that uses processes that rely on only the knowledge and wisdom of the C-Suite will struggle to thrive at the individual level. Design ways to grow your people and give them the autonomy to serve the end customer in the best way they can.
  • Encourage autonomy: Great executive leaders create clear company goals that give your employees and individual teams or departments the ability to adapt, grow, and function in the way the best serves the corporate objectives while serving the client’s needs. By creating corporate goals that are adaptable to individual skills, then empowering them to personalize those goals, you engage your employees and generate more sustainability of the long-term vitality of the organization.

Corporate goal-setting matters to every business. It informs and defines roles, steps, and success for every person being asked to contribute to the mission, vision, and objectives of the organization. Consider how your organization sets goals with care. Take into account what kind of business you are building and how your business needs to align across every level of the organization in order to achieve the objectives you’ve set out to accomplish.

Critical ways organizations can use leadership development as a strategic advantage:
  • Define goals and expectations
  • Identify skill gaps
  • Shape future leaders
  • Align leader goals at the organizational, team, and individual levels

How Goals Inform a Culture of Learning & Development

The growth and development of your employees is critical to organizational success. This includes leadership development at every level of an organization—not just middle managers. Coaching the current team to be future leaders is an important part of an organization’s future. But it goes beyond basic job training. Goal-setting that encourages employees to find growth opportunities that interest and challenge them pushes employees to buy into and invest in the organization. Seasoned employees can mentor new or younger employees, and eventually, tenured employees who reflect your culture will help new employees understand and manifest the vision and values of the organization.

Continuous Conversation and Achieving Goals

Formal performance reviews alone do not enhance performance. Feedback, on the other hand, remains critically important, but only when it’s done in an effective and timely manner through frequent and meaningful conversations.

Employees who have regular performance conversations with their manager have better opportunities to discuss goal progress and career development plans. They also have better opportunities to communicate roadblocks, obstacles, and frustrations so that they can do their jobs more efficiently.

Maintaining frequent performance conversations keeps the dialogue flowing, but the content of these ongoing conversations is important, too. These conversations should feel like a coaching session that is both purposeful and individualized to the employee. Continuous conversation helps keep goals on track, individuals engaged in their progress, and improves relationships and collaboration between people.

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Which Goals to Use — And When

Knowing which goals are appropriate for a given objective is key to achieving successful results. Common goals that organizations use include:

  • Long-term goals
  • Short-term goals
  • Agile goals
  • OKRs
  • SMART goals
  • Performance goals

Long Term and Short Term Goals

Often working together, long term and short term goals can serve the same objective but are set against a different structure in order to keep goals timely and realistic.

  • Long Term Goals define a success point in the future, usually 12 months or more. They need to be broken down into shorter, more manageable stages in order to stay on track and remain effective.
  • Short Term Goals are on a tighter timeline, typically quarterly or less. They may contribute to a larger goal or stand on their own.
Goal-Setting Tip:

Agile goals may be most closely associated with start-ups and tech companies, but they are a great way to make versatile, adaptable roadmaps for any business.

Agile Goals

Hailing from Silicon Valley, agile goals describe a process of achieving outcomes that evolve through small cycles of collaboration within a team. Agile goals take a larger roadmap and break it down into shorter and achievable milestones which are executed by focusing on one clear and concise small objective at a time. They’re typically completed in “sprints” which are two-week windows of actionable activities. Each sprint has a clear objective, and frequent check-ins allow work to pivot quickly in order to accommodate changes in direction, bugs, or roadblocks.

The software industry, for example, creates daily and weekly process cadences as a way to conduct quality checks, run tests, demo, and adjust or refine the requirements of the project to suit project needs and company goals. Agile goals are designed with an inherent sense of urgency that influences a team to produce results quickly and collaboratively while allowing room to continually make adjustments and improvements along the way to the larger objective.

The Old Way vs. The Inspire Way:

Traditional SMART goals are set to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Inspire takes this step further to make it more about motivation and less about rigid structure.


SMART goals use a 5-part structure to ensure that goals are organized in a manner that is to ensure they hit specific parameters for effectiveness and efficiency. Inspire takes this even further by applying motivational science and individual ability to SMART goals. Tailoring goals to an individual’s energy and motivation make the goals more valuable, consistent, and meaningful to those assigned to them.

Inspire SMART goals are:

  • Specific: Be explicit about the exact results you aim to achieve. Provide a measurable outcome with little room for misunderstanding — an identifiable end-goal to hit.
  • Motivating: A sense of autonomy or ownership can greatly improve the chances of reaching the desired outcome. Goals that don’t align with the core competencies or personal interests of the individuals pursuing them can result in disengagement.
  • Attainable: It’s critical to set goals that are within reach. Setting goals beyond an individual or team’s skill set — or ones that are effortlessly surpassed — risks losing motivation around the tasks needed to complete the goal.
  • Relevant: Goals need to be relevant to the individual pursuing them. If a performance goal doesn’t directly relate to an individual's skill set or role, they may be set up for failure. On the other hand, you don’t want individuals pursuing goals that are not relevant to the near or long term strategy of the company.
  • Trackable: Traditional SMART goals ask for goals that are time-bound — which is important — but it’s valuable to create goals that are trackable. Use checkpoints to determine whether the person or team is on track, and have regular conversations as to where roadblocks and obstacles exist, and monitor who is contributing and how.
An Example of an OKR might be:

Objective: Add 25% more restaurants to the local franchise chain.

Key Results:

  • Select 30 franchise candidates by June
  • Train 15 of them before the year’s end
  • Sign contracts with at least 10 before January of next year
  • Open at least five stores by next June


OKR stands for Objectives and Key Results. These goals are a simple framework for defining and tracking objectives and their desired outcomes. They are ambitious and sometimes lofty, challenging the individual to stretch in order to accomplish them. The objectives are usually less specific — a distant end-goal, to which the individual can determine their own path. While the objective is more vague, the key results are deliberate and exact.

OKRs work best for organizations that give their employees the freedom and autonomy to create their own roadmaps. Successful OKRs are best used when the objective has been defined and the individual is able to determine their path.

Comparing OKRs and SMART Goals

How do SMART goals and OKRs stack up to one another? Which is best to use in a particular scenario? Here is how each type of goal compares to the other:


  • SMART Goals: Take more time to define goal parameters and align them to the individual
  • OKRs: A simpler, more brief approach to structuring goals that allows for agility in their roadmap


  • SMART Goals: More precise about outcomes and factors in attainability
  • OKRs: Focuses on stretch goals, aiming to achieve about 60% of the objective

Motivation Level

  • SMART Goals: Factors in the individual’s energy and commitment to the goal
  • OKRs: Does not consider motivation


  • SMART Goals: Have some flexibility, but are more structured than OKRs
  • OKRs: Quite flexible and designed to adapt easily to changing needs

Challenge Level

  • SMART Goals: Somewhat challenges the individual, but is meant to be attainable
  • OKRs: Pushes the individual to stretch themselves as much as possible

Aligns to Strategy

  • SMART Goals: Aligns to larger business goals
  • OKRs: Aligns to larger business goals

Performance Goals

Performance goals are designed to measure, analyze, and improve individual abilities and skillsets over time — usually quarterly, tri-annually, or bi-annually. Performance goals include achievements in education, problem-solving, and on-the-job skills that clearly demonstrate measurable progress. A key aspect of performance goals is holding regular conversations to discuss a team member’s role and their contribution toward a specific outcome. Performance goals are often centered on what the organization is trying to achieve from a strategic viewpoint.

The Inspire Approach to Performance Goal-Setting

With Inspire, continuous one-to-one conversations are an integrated part of performance goals, and they happen in real-time. This method opens a dialogue for feedback and recognition between the manager and employee — it allows for the manager to bring up concerns, while providing the employee the opportunity to address any obstacles or needs in order to maintain their progress. Collaboration around goal-setting provides a unique opportunity for more regular conversations around progress and performance, opportunities for peer feedback, and a space for recognition and appreciation from leaders. These things provide a better mutual understanding and build stronger bonds between managers and employees, and employees and each other.

When evaluating a performance goal, it’s important team leaders and individuals focus less on the key metrics of the goal and more on the overall process and collaboration was toward achieving it. Metrics and outcomes are important, but numbers aren’t everything. Collaboration on performance goals builds trust where managers and employees can discuss their work in an objective way. It allows for healthy feedback and recognition, and sets up a successful path to performance improvement in the future.

Inspire makes goal science a core pillar of the platform, with leadership language baked right into the software to facilitate better conversations and more successful goal completion. We’d love to show you more about the ways Inspire can supercharge your goal-setting strategy and turn your organization into one with a culture of excellence.