Picture this. Your organization is getting geared up for a new product’s launch. Your researchers have been studying the markets like hawks; your analysts are working overtime to synthesize all specifications; your designers are working ceaselessly on their UML diagrams; the coders are glued onto execution of the designs; your testers are so busy scrutinizing the product for bugs, you almost want to give them gas-masks and cylinders of pesticide; your marketing team is planning out the most effective strategy to make the launch a success with such unwavering concentration that even the best chess-players would be shamed. Everything seems to be rather perfectly synchronized, right? Everyone has their individual goals and nothing can come in between your product and complete success. If that really is what you think, you’re only partly right and there’s a lot that could go wrong. That is where goal alignment comes to your rescue.
If everyone is busy with broken down functional aspects of the bigger goal, who is actually responsible for the product launch and for making it a success? If you thought that your entire workforce will answer, “We all are!” in unison, you need a reality check. Setting these team goals are great but how do you ensure goal alignment between these goal and the individual goals of your employees? Moreover, if every individual on your team has only specific goals to take care of and be accountable for, is it possible for them to be engaged to the bigger goals of your organization?
Employee engagement, though heavily researched upon, often seems to be nothing less than an Utopian mirage – elusive and always a bit out of your reach just when you thought you almost had it within your grasp. Among the many factors that are thought to contribute towards employee engagement (from bigger paychecks to more freedom to longer holidays to complete job-security to taking your employees out for adventure sports), goal alignment is a really important one. If banked upon, it could lead to increased employee engagement along with other benefits.
When individual goals are aligned with organizational goals, your employees have a clearer view of how their individual accomplishments lead to the organization attaining its wider objectives. This serves as motivation as they can see that what they do actually makes a difference. For example, instead of the coder just being rewarded for his/her performance based on design-execution and bug-resolution, s/he could be rewarded based on how the tasks actually helped in the product launch.
A lack of goal-alignment is more common than you think. Measures of performance themselves serve as distractions from organizational goals. Keeping in mind the example of the product launch, the performance of the designers would be measured in terms of their UMLs, of the coders, in terms of the resolution of various bugs but these measures are quite divorced from the larger objective of the product release. Goal-alignment, while targeting the bigger picture, actually works as a step towards more focused productivity.
When goals are aligned, employees get to realize that attaining organizational goals actually helps them attain their own personal goals as well and vice versa. This reduces stress as your employees do not feel that they’re being counter-productive by focusing on their own goals rather than on the organization’s. Nor do they feel that they’re losing touch with their personal goals.
Employee engagement through the simple yet undeniably important strategy of goal-alignment could be your next success story. Shared goals could very well be the key that unlocks happiness at work and makes sure that your employees are happy to come to work.
Do you think employee and organizational goals can be aligned? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org