Solo business owners have the luxury of setting business goals and being 100% responsible for making sure that they align with their individual goals. However, leaders, managers, and business entrepreneurs who lead a team have the challenge of creating business goals for the organization while making sure that their employees’ goals do not conflict with or hinder the success of the business.
The way to do this is to make sure that your employees’ goals are aligned with the company’s business goals. Easier said than done, I know. This is because there are unengaged employees, new employees who are trying to reach their own goals, and other employees who do not have a clear understanding of what the company is trying to accomplish.
However, aligning these goals is not impossible. In fact, with the right approach, aligning company goals with employee goals may seep into the company culture which will help the business reach previously unattainable heights.
The Importance of Aligning Employee Goals with Company Goals
When employees understand how their efforts contribute to the larger objectives of the company, they are more likely to feel valued and part of something significant. When they don’t, they tend to feel like they are floating aimlessly throughout their days and weeks. Most employees need a sense of belonging and purpose which can boost morale and job satisfaction.
Also, aligning employee goals with company goals helps with resource optimization. When employees have business goals that line up with what the company is trying to accomplish, employees are less likely to waste resources. This alignment also encourages employees to develop skills and competencies that are directly beneficial to the company. This makes perfect sense because most employees want to develop skills that will enhance their worth to their current company.
Also, goal alignment is crucial for effective performance management. It is easier for management to know how well an employee is doing if they can clearly see how well their actions align with the expectations that were set. This clarity in expectations and evaluation criteria can lead to a more transparent and fair performance review process.
Fairness when it comes to reviews is an important detail. However, managers fail to execute this process well. A Gallup poll found that only 29% of employees strongly agree that the performance reviews they receive are fair, and 26% strongly agree that they are accurate. This is an alarming statistic that can be aided when the expectations are clear for both sides.
Set Clear Company Objectives
It is hard to hit a blurry target or keep moving. That is why company goals must be clear. When those goals are clear, it clarifies the employee’s roles and will help define their goals. The next step is to also clearly communicate those goals to your team so that they can run with them.
Communicating these objectives requires more than a single announcement. If a company really wants to make impactful, it needs to put in extra effort. This means having an ongoing dialogue where the rationale behind goals is explained. The company also needs to make clear how these goals are relevant to the company mission as a whole. This clarity helps employees understand the “why” behind their work.
Something that helps is to make sure the goals are visible and regularly referenced. This means mentioning them in meetings and referencing them in reports. Leaders can also do things like end their emails with the mission statement or goals to make sure that it doesn’t get lost in the day-to-day. The important thing is to keep them at the forefront of employees’ minds.
When the goal is top of mind, it is more likely to drive actions, decision-making, and motive. All of which will help a company’s employees contribute to the goals of the business.
Set Cascading Goals
Have you ever watched a beautiful waterfall? From its height, beautiful water rapidly rushes from the top down to the lowest level of the falls. If you dropped a foreign object at the top, it would, eventually, reach the bottom. It’s simple gravity that the action of the current works that way.
It would be cascaded.
Goals that are cascaded are the most important, top-priority goals. Their origins are from the high-level bands of the business. They drift down through each level of the business. From the executive suites to the factory floors, these types of goals align employees’ contributions with the company’s strategic vision.
Cascading goals can become part of your overall plan for success. Whether you’re focusing on improving sales, cutting costs, enhancing innovation, or reducing employee turnover, cascading goals can help get you there.
Involve Every Employee in Goal Setting
It is one thing to have goals and instructions handed down to you from someone at a higher level but it is a completely different thing to be a part of designing those goals. One way to truly make sure that employee goals and company goals align is to get the employees involved in the goal-setting process.
When employees contribute to setting goals, they are more committed to achieving them. Employees don’t feel like they are being told what to do. Quite the opposite, they begin to feel that they are driving the goals, take a sense of ownership, and tend to hold themselves accountable for those goals being realized.
To make the goal-setting process with employees successful, it is important to ensure that this process is inclusive. Give every level of the organization a voice. Also, give even newer employees a chance to share their thoughts and ideas. This can be facilitated through surveys, suggestion boxes, and team meetings.
Leadership should take these contributions seriously. They should also be sure to incorporate as many of the ideas and suggestions as possible. One of the worst things an employee can feel is that their ideas and suggestions don’t matter. Find a way to make room for employees’ suggestions in the goal-setting process and credit the employees or department where the ideas originated so that everyone can be held accountable or can be recognized for their positive contribution.
Personalize Employee Goals
Most experts recognize that there are 16 different types of work personalities. Each type works in its own unique way. Each person also has a different way of approaching their goals. For leaders, it is important that they find a way to personalize their employees’ goals while making sure those goals help drive the business towards its goals.
The best way to do this is to find the connection between their work and their personal development. For instance, an employee interested in leadership could be given goals related to team management or mentorship.
This can help the employee grow professionally. Also, it benefits the company by developing future leaders. Personalized goals should also be flexible. There always needs to be room for adjustments based on changing circumstances or new growth opportunities.
Regular Feedback and Communication
Once you see that the company goals and employee goals are beginning to align, it is important to keep the lines of communication strong. Continuing and strengthening communication and feedback loops will make sure that goals do not begin to skew. Sometimes, goals change. This is true for employees and the company. Keeping the lines of communication strong can also make sure that when goals change or are altered, no one is left out of the loop.
Be sure to set meetings for the purpose of evaluating and talking about both company and employee goals. These meetings should be a safe space for honest and constructive feedback. Keep in mind that these meetings need to include both achievements and areas for improvement. Larger team meetings can be used to review collective progress toward goals and encourage collaboration and peer support.
But communication should not be limited to only meetings. Employees need to feel like they can meet spontaneously with management and offer feedback anytime. Of course, this could be done by using email and messaging. However, leaders need to emphasize that they are approachable and welcome their employee’s thoughts, comments, questions, and feedback at any time.
When trying to align employee goals with business goals, it is important to be realistic in your goal setting while setting meaningful goals that drive the business and its employees. Use tried and true methods like the SMART goal-setting method, for example. It may take some time to find the right balance of employee and company goals. But when you finally unlock it, you will experience a greater company culture and your employees will have a great sense of satisfaction in the long run.