New Year Without Resolution…3

To empower others, you must take their measurements regularly…

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Post 3: When Jeff asked his new supervisors to explain the new-year goal-setting processes they use to align their teams, he discovered that Jackson’s team supports different mid-level groups throughout the company. As a new member of the mid-level manager team, Jeff was anxious to ask his peers about the quality of strategic support they receive from Jackson’s group. He asked his peers how Jackson’s method was working for them because it had many moving parts and information hand-offs. He was able to collect some positive feedback and a few suggestions for improvement.

Jackson had detailed the process in that first staff meeting.

“In early fourth quarter of the year, each team member is assigned one or two of the mid-level leaders to interview. They collect that leader’s critical must-accomplish list for the next year and the major wish-list items that they’d like our team to prioritize in support of those key results. While they are doing that, I gather strategic company initiatives from the executive level.

At the end of the year, we have a full day offsite, but only half the event is work; the other half is a year-end/holiday celebration. We start the work-half of the day with an overview of the company-wide initiatives for the upcoming year, and it is amazing how often we discover ways our internal partners are not aligned with the global direction! (I own those discoveries to clarify with the appropriate mid-level leader.) Next on the agenda, each person reports on their interview findings, and team members discuss who will be assigned to support the various ‘must-haves’ across the company.

As the last step of the process each member of my team writes 3-4 goals for the year. As they create these, they consider how their individual contribution impacts the company and team priorities, and they meet briefly again with their mid-level business partners to confirm understanding of their targeted commitments. At our off-site, as soon as a due-date for our documented goals is negotiated, it’s party-time!”

Reality: The new year brings a smart opportunity to focus your entire team or company in the same direction. It takes critical analysis and input if your market is complex or moving quickly and critical communication if your business has multiple groups who have the temptation to work in silos. But confirming company direction helps employees at every level check the resolution of their efforts and ensure they are viewing results clearly.

  Tips:

  • Formal, individual, employee goals are not always the best practice for smaller organizations, but it is still critical that every employee know of any change of direction the new-year brings.
  • Ensure strategic direction of the organization is confirmed by executive level before going too far down the road of creating formal employee goals. Goals should always be considered to be ‘must-haves’ and never ‘wished-for’ accomplishments.
  • To gain insight into how much employees understand about the company direction, solicit input on what they think would be good aspects of goals before sharing your input as a leader.
  • Limit individual goals or objectives to only 2-4 and create a general expectation that the goals may need to be adjusted as business evolves through the year.
  • When possible, align work-outputs with the stated goals; objectives that cannot be accomplished within standard performance scope are rarely prioritized. Example: Improving quality of outputs is often critical enough to support the strategic need and become a core goal measure.
  • Aligning goal measures with performance metrics whenever possible will ensure measures exist for accountability and celebration.

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