Aligned goals are critical to effective strategic planning and execution. Seems obvious, right? Yet it is rarely done. A staggering 80% of businesses that engage in strategic planning fail to align their goals.
When setting near term goals, like your 90-day “Quarterly Strategic Priorities” (QSPs), it is imperative that they align with your 1-Year Goals, 3-Year Goals, and your Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). Despite alignment’s importance, only 20% of businesses that regularly engage in strategic planning have goals that align.
When goals are not properly aligned, it can lead to confusion and a lack of direction within an organization. It’s like having your Dragon Boat crew rowing in different directions. It just doesn’t make sense. And yet, it’s nearly ubiquitous.
And even more pervasive is that individual goals are not aligned to QSPs or annual goals. Without a clear sense of how individual goals fit into the larger picture, people feel disconnected from the company’s mission and may lack motivation to work towards achieving them. This can lead to a lack of productivity and a decrease in overall performance. It’s probably one significant reason why as many as 70% of American employees are disengaged at work.
Furthermore, when goals are not aligned, silos within an organization are strengthened. Departments and teams end up working towards goals that are not in line with the overall objectives of the company, leading to greater conflict and a lack of collaboration, which obviously has negative impacts on the bottom line.
Proper goal alignment, on the other hand, can have significant positive impacts in your business. When goals are aligned, employees have a clear understanding of how their work contributes to the larger objectives of the company, and they are more motivated to work towards achieving them. They see their contributions as meaningful to the team. And, when goals are aligned, collaboration and teamwork are facilitated, as employees from different departments or teams understand how their efforts fit together like puzzle pieces into a larger picture. In short, everyone is paddling in the same direction.
A key element of goal alignment is communication. Remember this, No Secret Goals! It is essential that the goals and objectives of the organization are clearly communicated to all employees, so that they understand how their work fits into the larger picture and what everyone else is working on. To keep things moving and on track, it is important to have regular check-ins to ensure that progress is being made and that goals remain aligned and relevant.
Another important aspect of goal alignment is flexibility. The business environment is constantly changing, and it is important to be able to adapt to those changes. This means being open to adjusting goals as needed and being willing to pivot if the original plan is no longer feasible. But, and this is big but, any changes must be made with intention. There is a reason you decided on your goals in the first place. What has changed in order to necessitate a change in your goals and direction? If nothing has changed, then why are changing your goals?
To achieve goals alignment, it is important to engage in a thorough and comprehensive strategic planning process. This should involve input from all levels of the organization and should take into account the organization’s Vision and direction, as well as external factors such as market trends and competition. That’s why we use an updated SWOTT analysis each quarter in our planning routine. Additionally, it is important to have a clear and measurable way of determining whether goals have been met, so that progress can be tracked and adjustments can be made as needed.
Goal alignment is a critical aspect of effective strategic planning and is essential for the success of any business. Unfortunately, despite its importance, the overwhelming majority of businesses, even those who go through a regular, formal planning process, fail to align their goals. To achieve goal alignment, it is important to engage in a thorough strategic planning process that is focused on moving toward the long-term goals. It is also critical to communicate goals clearly to all employees, stay flexible and adaptable, and regularly check-in and track progress. By doing so, businesses can ensure that all levels of goals, from individual milestones to 90 day QSPs to BHAGs, are aligned and working to realize the Vision of the organization.