Updated: March 2020
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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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Knowing which goals are appropriate for a given objective is key to achieving successful results. Common goals that organizations use include:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Objective: Add 25% more restaurants to the local franchise chain.
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.
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:
Aligns to Strategy
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.
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.