How Cascading Goals Impact Employee Performance
It has been observed that employee performance appraisals are usually conducted without much thought for the business goals or needs. When goals are misaligned and not clear, it may limit both individual performance, as well as organisational performance, resulting in reduced engagement levels.
Rarely do organisations cascade goals from the executive team down to the different departments and finally to the employees. Organisations that don’t follow the process of cascading goals, struggle to manage workforce redundancies, overlapping accountabilities, and other conflicting activities. It is not enough for organisations to conduct the annual strategic planning session and share the organisational goals either through the corporate communications department, or via team meetings. In fact, organisations need to align and cascade the organisational goals throughout the company to promote transparency, evaluate the overall strategy vis-a-vis individual performance, or manage the progress of these goals on a regular basis.
This article provides a general guidance on how you can cascade your organisational goals, align them with the performance management process, and also create a relevant employee development plan which is linked to the overall business strategy of the organisation.
1. Developing Business and Employee Performance Goals
The success of an organisation begins when it develops at least three to five business goals which can be easily accomplished in a year. The number of goals to be accomplished within a year should not be in excess that it becomes difficult to main focus. It is also equally significant to set time aside to review the goals which were set previously and the new goals in order to ensure that there is no conflict between them. The goals of an organisation need to be based according to a strategic plan, and they should act as milestones to help the company achieve its goal. For instance, an organisation may set a goal to “Increase its revenue from 200 million dollars to 500 million dollars” in the coming year. This kind of goal is specific and easy to comprehend, and it can be adapted as required based on the changing business requirements.
2. Aligning the Business Goals Appropriately
Once an organisation is done setting its business goals, it needs to align these goals to specific divisions, business units, or departments. It is important to align the goals, as multiple departments may have the same kind of goal. So it is important to have the senior leaders of the management participate in the goal alignment process. Each of these business leaders need to develop three to five strategic goals and ensure that they tie these goals to the common corporate goal. This step confirms how and when each business unit or division plans to achieve these strategic goals within a designated time frame.
After these strategic goals are established and agreed upon mutually, it is significant that you discuss them in an open forum in order to identify goals which may be misaligned across the company. Some of the most common errors tend to occur during this phase such as poorly defined business goals, lack of prioritising goals, lack of metrics to measure the success of these goals, and open-ended timeframes. When the entire management team collaborates, such possible errors can be eliminated at an early stage.
3. Setting the Process of Cascading Goals
After the management has decided and agreed upon the top-level goals, managers can decide to cascade the goals down to its different departments and then to the respective individuals of these departments or business units. This process of cascading goals impacts the performance of the company in a positive manner and increases the value of the goals across the board. When goals are cascaded, the employees understand:
- What is the organisation’s focus
- How do their work contribute towards achieving these goals
- The overall impact of the team towards the bottom line
The talent management programs of an organisation enable its employees to view the connection between their goals, the corporate strategies, the goals of their managers, and the importance of a company-wide transparency.
4. Managing Goals Effectively
The goals of an employee identify what an employee needs to do, to move towards attaining the corporate strategies. The process of setting goals is a continuous process of decision making. The process of setting goals need to be a joint process between the managers and the employees. The managers of an organisation should ensure that they are in a position to help the employees develop and review their individual goals. When there is a mutual agreement on the goals, it helps to ensure a mutual commitment towards achieving them as well. The process of goal setting applies to everyone alike irrespective of an employee’s role or position in the organisation.
Most of these career-oriented goals include both short and long-term activities. While formulating goals, it needs to be considered that circumstances may often change; hence the goals need to be reviewed during each performance review cycle. Individuals should keep a track of important tasks assigned to each goal, and they should assign a start and end date to each of these goals, as well as have the standard metrics in place for measuring the success of these goals.
Employees need to follow the following guidelines to set achievable goals:
- Set and frame your career goals in a positive manner by using dates and timelines, so that you can effectively measure your achievement of the goals. By following this, you will know when you have achieved a certain goal and can derive satisfaction of completing the task.
- Set your priorities. The managers can help in setting the priorities by assigning each of the goals a certain weight and priority level. This helps the employee not to feel overwhelmed by too many goals, and they are able to direct their attention to the goals based on their priority level.
- Set realistic goals by keeping them small and achievable. If goals are too big, it may appear that the employees are not making much progress towards achieving it.
5. Tying the Performance of Employees to the Achievement of Goals
While setting, monitoring and updating goals are no doubt an important part of the talent management process, but tying the performance of employees to the achievement of goals is a significant step in order to measure accomplishment of goals. Employees need to evaluate each of the set goals against certain specific performance measures. These performance measures are yardsticks which determine how successful a certain accomplishment of an employee is. Organisations adopt a lot of useful measures such as quality, timeliness, quantity, cost-effectiveness, and productivity to name a few.
After the employee evaluates his or her individual progress against the above-mentioned measures, they need to solicit manager feedback. They should also solicit feedback from their peers and customers as well. Although this feedback may be provided in various formats, written documentation is recommended, as well as a face-to-face discussion to review the plan and brainstorm ideas which can be used to improve in the coming year.
6. Planning for Employee Development
When employees receive timely input from managers and have regular performance reviews, it sets the foundation for their personal and professional development. If you have a systematic process in place, it provides visibility into potential talent gaps and enables the managers to link the learning plans to certain performance and skill gaps. If you have a personalised employee development plan, it ensures that your employees are able to identify new skills, knowledge, and abilities to pursue and the learning resources which are required to achieve specific goals that are tied to organisational needs.
Organisations can improve employee engagement by providing the employees with the right kind of information and tools. They can also introduce strategically aligned performance management programs which help to incorporate cascading goals and align them at the individual level of employees. These programs also facilitate an ongoing conversation, continuous collaboration and monitoring of results which significantly increases employee engagement.