Organizational Fault-lines: Goals & Goals Alignment


Organizational Fault-lines: Goals & Goals Alignment
How the world’s top teams set and hit goals
In Dan Pink’s Ted Talk on motivation (& this equally gets addressed in Drive), he discusses the importance of autonomy when it comes to goal-based motivation.
Believe it or not, most employees want and need to know four things about their work so they can contribute and feel comfortable about where they are in the organization:
1)     What do I need to accomplish?
2)     Why am I doing what I’m doing?
3)     How well must I do it?
4)     How am I doing?
Similarly, in this regard, zooming out the scale at an organizational level, goals serve four basic functions:
1)     they provide guidance and direction
2)     motivate and inspire employees,
3)     facilitates planning & organizing of resources
4)     helps organizations evaluate and control performance
Organizational goals help employees know where the organization is going and how it plans to get there. Drawing analogies at micro & macro level, it becomes imperative for organizations to make sure that people/teams are comfortable with the individual/micro goals, set in the realm of possibilities, cumulating into macro organizational goals, in such a way that each and every one of them is focused on achieving results - moving the flywheel from personal fulfillment to organization realization of its mission.

“Unless we have a purpose, there is no reason why individuals should try to cooperate together at all or why anyone should try to organize them”
Wrote legendary management consultant Lyndall F. Urwick in the 1964 issue of Harvard Business Review.

It's been more than 50 years, since this was penned, but despite all of our technological and societal advances, we still seem to be struggling with this exact issue.
As the authors of The Strategy-Focused Organization found, a mere 7% of employees today fully understand their company’s business strategies and what’s expected of them in order to help achieve company goals.

Goal setting and Goal alignment are a serious problem (and hence a faultline, as the title puts it), once the organization or team expands beyond a scale of 10 - 12 people. Making sure everyone has goals that align with the organization’s purpose and vision is no small task.
It’s easy enough for marketing or sales teams to set goals like “Acquire X users” or “Double email list.” But for other teams? When you’re in charge of your core product/strategy and need to react quickly to changes, you can’t stick to the same old static goals.
So, how do the best teams in the world with products bringing in billions in revenue keep their eyes on the end goal while staying nimble and agile? Let’s find out.

Goals are the reason, your team wants to come into work every morning
First off, there’s more to goal setting than just telling your team what they need to do. When done properly, goals aren’t just a to-do list, but a direct line to your company’s vision and purpose.
Think about this stat for a second: FitBit users take 43% more steps than non-users. Why? Well, it turns out that just having insight into their data and progress towards their personal goals is enough to get people to put in extra miles every day.
Imagine what would happen if every member of your entire company knew for a fact that the work they were doing was moving the whole organization forward. Actually, you don’t have to imagine.

Studies have shown that committing to a goal can help improve employee performance and help build a sense of togetherness and motivation across your team. But more specifically, research has shown that setting challenging and specific goals can further enhance your team’s engagement in attaining those goals.
Setting proper goals for the team doesn’t just keep your team aligned with company goals. It leads to higher performance, a sense of happiness and ownership, and ultimately, success across the board.

Goals align Organizational excellence at macro level with personal mastery at micro level. 
Peter Senge, in The Fifth Discipline, elucidates one of the five disciplines as personal mastery (the others being systems thinking, mental models, building shared vision, and team learning). Senge equates personal mastery with personal growth and learning, espoused by those who “are continually expanding their ability to create the results in life they truly seek.”

As a former SVP of Product at LinkedIn, Deep Nishar, explains:
“Vision without operational excellence is just a dream. Great enterprises marry a sense of purpose with amazing operational excellence and put processes in place for how they will achieve that vision.”
Or, as Don Sull, Senior Lecturer at MIT Sloan School of Management, explains: goals are the missing link between strategy and execution. They provide a wireframe for your company, giving a clear view of what every individual’s role is in moving the needle, realizing the vision & purpose of the organization.
The problem is that getting all these pieces to work together and have visibility into them is a challenge. Teams get siloed. Communication slows down. And all of a sudden the goals you set aren’t in line with the company vision. But as a team leader, you can change this for the better.
“As the team and org scales, communication of your values, the stories that illustrate those values, and the context behind the decisions being made are so important,” explains Kelly Graziadei who led product and marketing teams at Facebook for 7 years.
“But communication often falls to the bottom of the priority list. As you scale your teams this must be front and center. With communication comes stories, priorities, and context. Context gives meaning to the work, creates alignment, and gives people the power and confidence to make decisions. Context and good goal setting is critical.”
It all starts with communication around what kind of goals you’re setting, your culture of success, and then tying individual objectives to larger team goals and your company vision.
Setting the right priorities and aligned goals are critical for scale. Goals and metrics will align, focus, and motivate your growing teams. Think about goals that the company can align around—DAP, revenue, CSAT, engagement, and retention now and a year from now. When cascading goals from the company level to the individual, ensure they ladder to topline but translate to goals each given team or function can directly impact. When creating goals and priorities, focus on “the what” / the KPIs and empower the smart, talented folks on the team to drive at the how. This creates the right combination of focus and autonomy.
Choose goals that you can track daily or weekly. You can only move as fast and change course as the speed of your feedback. Communicate about goals, progress, best practices, and wins early and often. Let others know what good looks like. Share and learn from failures and move quickly to correct mistakes.