Most people want meaningful work. They want to make a contribution they can be proud of. They are not working solely for the compensation; although insufficient and inequitable compensation is a detractor, higher levels of compensation do not directly correlate to higher levels of satisfaction or engagement.
When you link division, department and individual goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) to the company’s most important goals—what the president and CEO is speaking about publicly and internally, what customers have said is important, and what makes a difference in the communities in which they live and work—then you have alignment. It is powerful in its simplicity. Do not underestimate it.
By breaking targets down to quarterly, monthly and sometimes daily metrics, employees have a greater line of sight to their performance. They are better equipped to achieve their goals, as they can adjust their actions more rapidly. Strong performers are motivated when they see their results tracking ahead of plan. This also gives managers and executives the data they need to be more proactively track and manage performance.
When the goals of any and every employee can be tracked back up through the organization to the company’s strategy and stated priorities, you create a powerful momentum of alignment. Like a team of horses harnessed together, the collective energy is greater than the sum of its parts.
In addition, most people, even the most ambitious and goal-driven individuals, are energized when they are contributing to a larger enterprise as part of a team. By linking every objective to departmental, regional, divisional, and/or corporate objectives, everyone sees how their role contributes to the whole. They are also more likely to highlight and express frustration with individuals or departments that are not contributing their share. This is healthy and productive. It can create discomfort for leaders who are not holding themselves or their teams to account – as it should.
Establishing goal alignment as described above is a great start. About one-half of organizations have this level of goal setting. What differentiates an accountable organization that holds everyone’s feet to the fire is how they consistently review the aligned goals:
- All results are published across the company or each division as often as weekly and no less than once per month. There is complete transparency to everyone’s results.
- The CEO reviews the aggregate results for the company. Her direct reports review the regional results. Middle management leaders review the results by region and branch and, perhaps, by employee.
- The CEO reviews the results with his leadership team as frequently as monthly for a mid-sized organization and quarterly for a Fortune 1000 organization.
- The executive team reviews results with their direct reports—vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, and/or district managers as frequently as once per week and no less than once per month.
- The branch or department managers review results with their staff weekly and team leads and supervisors may do so two or three times during a week. This frequency is particularly effective when the results are exceeding plan or falling below expectations.
Excerpted from Feet to the Fire: How to Exemplify and Create the Accountability that Creates Great Companies. For more on how to lead with a model of personal accountability, pick up a copy today on Amazon!
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