One of the key features of strong leadership is ensuring that teams have buy-in to the organisation goals. Goal setting ensures you know where you are heading, and should including measures that help you know if you are making progress.
Four reasons to set goals are:
Assuming you share the goals publicly, everyone in the organisation can see where you are heading, and more easily align what they are doing to this overall direction and purpose. If everyone’s goals are aligned, this creates a sense of synergy, purpose and motivation.
When high level goals are clear, it’s easier for team members to set their own goals which align with those higher level goals. This tends to result in higher accountability, since no-one likes to set their own goals, have them shared with their boss and colleagues, and then miss them.
Clear goals right the way down the team tends to increase the amount of time individuals spend on their goals and lessen the time they spend on other activities. This focus results in higher productivity.
A shared set of goals and clear accountability tends to increase teamwork. Everyone knows the overall objective, the part each person has committed to play, and how they interact. As any team sports player will tell you, that’s the basis of strong teamwork.
Goals need to be highly and consistently visible
Don’t forget that simply publishing goals once and hoping everybody will remember them is not enough. You’ll remember them because you agonised over writing the, but for everyone else, that was just one meeting in 25 that they had that month. Goals need to be front and centre meeting after meeting, and referred to often.
Evidence that this is an easy win, is provided by the statistic that 2/3 of senior executives cannot name their company's top 3 priorities.
Objectives and Key Results (OKR) is one of the most popular Goal Setting frameworks.
It is used by Google, LinkedIn, Amazon, Sears, GE, UK's Government Digital Services, BBC and many, many other organisations. Here's a 10 slide introduction to OKRs. If you prefer something a little longer, try this presentation from Felipe Castro.
Using OKRs correctly ensures intellectual discipline on priorities, alignment of goals and communication throughout the organisation. Here's a short deck that highlights the benefits succinctly.
Most companies use some sort of scoring to aggregate and compare how their OKRs are going.
At AlignWork, we've simplified goal setting to setting just one measure of success for each objective. That measure may be numeric, or it may be descriptive. If you want, you can write it as some sort of compound of two or more measures, both of which have to be achieved. We give you up to five options for describing the outcome. The outcome options are intended to have the following meanings apply:
1. failed to make any significant progress
2. made a bit of progress but less than hoped for
3. we achieved our expected progress on this objective
4. we did really well on our objective
5. we achieved the moon shot, and blew the lights out on this objective
Using this scale, all the objectives that you and your team have can be reported simply and compared, and everybody will know what the score really means. If they want to look up the actual measure being tracked, they can also do that.
We’ve designed a lightweight software tool which helps team codify their objectives and measures. Why not try it out!