How an organization deals with goals can help or hurt their success. However just 43.1 percent of companies have a formal way to set and track goals. This story will look at common misunderstandings surrounding goals and what companies can do better.
What happens when an organization fails to reach its goals? Apparently, for many companies, the answer is to just try the same thing over and over again, expecting a better outcome.
Nowadays, there is a wide variety of technology available to help set and track organizational goals. Yet there’s a resistance to use it. Recently, my company Quantum Workplace released its State of Employee Feedback report. It found that just 43.1 percent of companies have formal goal setting and tracking programs.
Instead of evolving our concepts surrounding goals, we’re holding onto outdated myths -- strategies that just do not hold true anymore. And that’s weighing us down.
Here are four outdated ways of looking at organizational goals that need to be revised:
1. Set ‘em and forget ‘em
Let’s say you set a goal of increasing sales by 15 percent. How would you approach reaching that target? Would you work at it every day, monitoring your progress and adapting your strategy over time? Or would you try to do it all in one day?
Of course the latter option is ridiculous. But if your organization is relying on annual reviews to assess performance, that’s essentially what you’re doing. It’s nearly impossible to achieve anything if you discuss a goal with an employee one day and don’t revisit it until a year later. Not to mention that it leaves employees unmotivated -- our survey found 66.7 percent of disengaged companies only meet every year or so.
Success is much more likely if managers meet with employees more frequently to talk about how things are going. Regular one-on-one meetings ensure that everyone remains on the same page about how things are progressing. And if there’s anything blocking the path to success, everyone can find a solution quickly.
2. Stretch goals give you something to reach for
It’s a common practice for organizations to set goals with a variety of achievability factors. There are goals that are set with the expectation of meeting; and there are "stretch" goals that are more aspirational and intentionally slightly beyond reach.
The logic behind stretch goals is that they motivate us to be better than we could ever imagine. By setting easier goals, we limit ourselves. However, research has found that stretch goals can actually be detrimental to an organization.
A study from University at Buffalo School of Management found that even teams that had been successful in the past and had plenty of resources became less efficient after management set unrealistic expectations. Disheartened and intimidated by the goals, employees end up trying even less.
Whenever you’re setting organizational goals, always consider what it would take to reach them. If you’d need a miracle or superpowers, then lower the bar a bit. Remember to go for challenging, not impossible.
3. An individual’s goals are their personal responsibility
In many companies, there’s a strict divide between organizational and individuals’ goals. If an employee wants to achieve something, that’s their own business and responsibility. However, employees want more support from their employers.
A survey by the Society for Human Research Management found that while working for an organization that aided in professional development was a top factor in job satisfaction, only 25 percent of employees were very satisfied with how their current employer handled it. In fact, employees were more likely to say they feel they contribute to the organization’s goals than that the organization helps them with theirs.
In order to keep employees happy and motivated, companies need to align the organization’s goals with those of individuals. Be aware of what employees want to accomplish in their career and help them with guidance, training, and relevant work. That way, everyone will be able to work towards their goals.
4. All that matters is the bottomline
Financial stability is undeniably important to an organization. But it shouldn’t overshadow other workplace goals or be the only one that is tracked.
For example, a survey by Edelman found that 55 percent of companies do not have an employee engagement strategy. And for those companies that do, it’s just a formality, not an active plan. Only 65 percent of managers and 38 percent of employees knew about their company’s engagement strategy.
How well do you think those strategies are achieving their goals?
Organizations need to refocus on the more human aspects of their workplace. That means setting goals, collecting data, and tracking metrics to improve. Unless that is done, saying “our organization is working to improve employee engagement” is nothing more than hot air.
The way an organization functions is very different compared to 20, 10, or even 5 years ago. There are now better tools to help us set, measure, and reach our goals. But that means rethinking how we approach goals and letting go of outdated myths that are holding us back.
What are some other outdated ideas about organizational goals that need to be forgotten? Share in the comments below!