If you’re in any corporate environment, you’ve probably heard or talked about goal setting ad nauseum. Goal setting is to organizational leaders as navigation charts are to sailors. Essential.
Goals serve as the compass for the boat of a company and its employees, giving them direction, and a destination while providing motivation and an ability to measure results that provide information on the progress towards the goals. They are the ‘why’. But for many organizations, goal setting is a daunting task that often results in frustration on the part of not just upper management, but throughout the entire company. If not approached and set appropriately, organizational goals can backfire and erode a corporate culture instead of shoring it up.
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What are organizational goals?
Organizational goals are strategic in nature and help set objectives and focused targets established by organizational leaders (to learn more on the difference between goals and objectives check out our past idea here). They’re designed to inform the ‘how’ when it comes to creating structure around critical aspects of a business such as employee performance, establishing business processes, and defining desired outcomes. They also provide constraints and even explain an organization’s existence.
Organizational Goals Examples
Below are some common examples of organizational goals
Efficiency at its core is about getting to a particular outcome with little or no ‘waste’ which is commonly thought of as wasted effort. However with so many distractions nowadays, many organizations consistently struggle with producing desired outcomes much less producing those outcomes within a certain time frame. They need improved efficiency but the key here is clearly articulating the desired outcome. Doing this effectively means a healthier bottom line and improved productivity, so it only makes sense that this is often a top management goal.
Technological innovations are coming at us at light speed. Our ability to gather information can often outpace our ability to secure vital information. It’s imperative to establish organizational goals that address increased information security measures, whether it’s for your customers or your employees. A massive breach in users’ information can mean the downfall of any sized company but small to moderate-sized companies are particularly vulnerable.
Extraordinary Customer Support
If you have a client-facing organization, this is and will likely continue to be one of the top-of-mind organizational aims year after year. In an ever changing environment of customer need this means that organizations must remain diligent in not only providing extraordinary customer support but also staying on top of what it means to provide that level of support as the customer need evolves. In other words, what matters to your customers today will unlikely remain the same over time. Proactively gauging what your customer truly expects and adapting your support model to deliver against that expectation will mean increased customer loyalty, which is what any business wants.
Strategic Social Media Engagement
Like it or not, social media engagement has become a key form of advertising and, in many cases, the sole arbiter of an organization’s public image. Tension arises when the need to drive revenue through targeted advertising conflicts with an information security goal. Additionally, how do you manage the perception of your organization when anyone can comment with little to no context and others will latch onto what they read without verifying its accuracy? Good leaders understand that they may not know enough about how to effectively outline tactical objectives for this new and ever-changing landscape. It can be an objective in itself to hire and establish a team whose purpose is to manage both the revenue generating and organizational perception aspects of this field..
For many corporations that deal with a large carbon footprint (and even many that don’t), establishing organizational goals that help improve environmental sustainability are becoming part of the overall mission of the company. From key executives to middle managers and even outside vendors, employee efforts on this front can not only make you a more respected organization but also more fiscally stable.
Community Growth and Empowerment
Many organizations set strategic goals that help strengthen and improve the communities they are a part of. Improving the well-being of your organization can cement a long-term future within that community.
Setting Organizational Goals
Seek input on goals from the group. Employee efforts to achieve organizational goals will be more significant when the team feels they have had a say in the goal creation. This creates a vested interest in coming up with meaningful operating objectives. People want to support what they create and will accept responsibility for their roles in the achievement of such goals more easily.
Seeking group input also allows you as a leader to keep your finger on the pulse of your team. It can be very eye-opening and surprising to see what your employees view as top priorities for the company and what they think your organization’s goals should be versus what you may have in mind.
Prioritize as a group. Organizational goals can often be daunting in their size and number. Having your team help inform the priority of your organizational goals can provide insight as to what matters to them most which then drives clarity for all involved. Once a clear priority has been set, the process of achieving operating objectives and desired outcomes is much more manageable.
Determine objectives and plans of action. For each strategic goal, outline specific action steps and deadlines. At One TEAM, we go through the process of creating Strategies, Plans, Objectives, and Tactics (or SPOT), in that order. This process creates a structure that guides employees’ efforts and gives each organizational goal an almost tactile existence that focuses the work and will help ensure a greater chance at achievement.
Follow through. Have regular and planned contact with your team regarding goals. Organizational goal setting is not just a set-it-and-forget-it thing. It requires following through on your planned action steps and promises in order to achieve desired outcomes.
Continually evaluate your progress. Put the focus on the progress made towards each of your organizational goals on a regular basis. Whether it’s daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly, holding team members accountable for their role in achieving your organizational goals is the only way to monitor progress. It’s vital in order to see where your company is succeeding, falling short, or just dropping the ball altogether. This will allow you to pivot, re-assess strategies, or alter plans as needed to guarantee continued growth.
Be flexible. Nothing is set in stone. It’s okay to revamp strategies, plans, or objectives to meet new circumstances or respond to new information.
3 Types of Organizational Goals and Objectives
Strategic goals focus on a broad vision for a company. They’re set by and for top leaders and management in order to hone and focus on bigger picture issues.
Strategic goals are mostly long-term, and they’re often the umbrella that houses other smaller, more focused operating objectives.
Tactical objectives focus on the steps necessary to achieve strategic goals. They’re generally set for middle managers of various departments. These managers are responsible for ensuring the carrying out of action steps by employees.
Tactical objectives will usually be set by upper leadership for the middle managers based on the bigger picture and larger-scale strategic goals of the overall corporation.
Operational objectives focus on the short-term action steps and day-to-day grind that is necessary to achieve tactical objectives set forth by middle managers. These objectives are designed for lower-level managers and general employees.
Operational objectives represent the small steps that need to be taken on a frequent and regular basis in order to achieve the bigger picture strategic goals laid out by leadership.
Why Are Organizational Goals Important?
Guidance and Direction
Just like using Google Maps, organizational goals give you and your team clear direction and step-by-step navigational aids that help you quickly and efficiently reach your desired state. And, just like Google Maps, good organizational goals will have alternate routes to take in the event your first choice isn’t working out as well as you planned.
Organizational goals should be developed in such a way that they motivate entire organizations to come together to achieve a common end-point.
This is why having diverse types of organizational goals is important. Not everyone in your company is going to be motivated by the same goal.
Helps with Planning and Action
Properly set organizational goals directly affect and guide a company’s planning and action steps. Official goals will have written, actionable plans for execution. This keeps all team members on the same page and allows for proper follow-up and real-time evaluation.
Tips to Achieve Your Organizational Goals
Set Up Goals For Success: This needs to happen at all levels or organizational goals. All team members must feel that they can realistically and successfully complete their set of goals in the time frame and budget allotted to them.
Set the right orientation: From the smallest operating objectives to the broader spectrum of organizational goals, all have to be aligned with your company’s mission and purpose. Official goals focus on staying in alignment with the bigger purpose.
Make them descriptive: Official goals have to have crystal clear descriptions, expectations, and action steps so that all team members know without a doubt what their role in achieving their designated types of organizational goals are and why they’re an integral part of the process.
Make objectives realistic: This is a no-brainer. There’s nothing worse for morale than constantly feeling like you’re swimming upstream but never getting anywhere. This is the case with unrealistically set organizational goals. They have to be achievable in order to promote confidence, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment among all other team members.
Make objectives measurable: All types of objectives have to have metrics or milestones that can be measured throughout the process. This not only helps determine if your team is on the right track to achieving their specific official goals, but it also tells them when they’ve reached that final destination and can begin setting new objectives.
Assign them properly: Before doling out tasks to team members, be sure that those team members have the right skills and mindset to be able to tackle their designated objectives.
Make sure you have the necessary resources: This goes not only for your individual team members but for all levels of upper management as well. With so many different types of organizational goals floating around, it’s important to make sure people aren’t stymied by lack of knowledge in certain subjects, budget constraints, personnel shortages, or supply chain back-ups that can make achieving their assigned objectives a monumental task.
Have continuous conversations: It’s imperative to gauge how team members are feeling about the state of their designated organizational goals and how realistic they are when it comes to completing objectives on time and on budget.
Be transparent: In your rationale for setting goals, in your purpose, in your progress, frustrations, challenges, and wins, it’s important for your team members to see an authentic leader who doesn’t try to sugarcoat things or pull the wool over their eyes when progress towards organizational goals isn’t going to plan. It’s also important for those team members to be included in finding solutions and pivoting when necessary. This helps to further engagement and motivation on a global scale within your organization.
Organizational Goals vs. Learning Goals vs. Performance Goals
With all this talk about organizational goals, it’s important to distinguish between learning goals and performance goals.
Too often, leaders tend to put too much importance and focus on performance goals. Goals that have outcomes measured by numbers, whether those numbers have to do with products or dollars. It’s easy for leaders to forget that acquiring knowledge and new skills can be just as, if not more important, than numbers-oriented goals.
Learning goals focus attention on uncovering new strategies that can lead to more effective or efficient attainment of desired results. This article from Ivey Business Journal has a great in-depth examination of the difference between learning and performance goals.
Figure Out Where to Start
If setting realistic and attainable organizational goals is still a daunting task for you or your team, we’re here to help. We have a vast collection of skills and knowledge to put to use and get you on the right track. Often, when you’re living in the thick of something, it can be difficult to take a step back and take a hard and truly objective look at what your next steps should be and how to get there. A fresh, third-party approach is so often just what you need to see a brighter, more rewarding future for you and your team. Feel free to reach out to us for tips, advice, or hands-on help that’s specifically tailored to the needs and wants of your particular team.