Recognizing and nurturing employee goals and objectives is part of any good manager’s responsibilities. Employees who have regular career conversations with managers are generally highly engaged and motivated. And according to Harvard Business Review, 71 percent of companies rank employee engagement as very important for overall organizational success. Employee goals and objectives affect an organization’s profits, sales, customer service (and customer perceptions of service), retention rates, and more.
Misalignment between employee performance and business objectives slows down company growth. To avoid this pitfall, it’s important to link employee goals to those of the larger organization.
Link Employee Aspirations to the Big Picture
As a manager, you’re expected to support employee goals and objectives — up to a point. An employee goal should always support your organization’s big picture goals. If employee goals are not in alignment with the bigger picture, your job is to mentor and guide employees until their objectives benefit both the organization and themselves.
Fortunately, employee goals and objectives are usually easy to align with organizational goals. Improving a skill that’s vital to the employee’s job, training to expand an employee’s responsibilities, or mentoring an employee for a leadership role are all examples of objectives that could support organizational goals.
Sometimes, however, an employee’s goals may bring the company no value, or even clash with the organization’s big picture objectives. Mentoring an employee for a future management role makes no sense if no managerial positions are going to open over the long term. Similarly, there’s no point in providing training that increases an employee’s skill set but has no bearing on their current or future role. If you support such goals, you’re expending time and resources on objectives that won’t benefit your organization — while increasing the chance the employee will jump ship to another company that provides opportunities to put those new skills to use.
In such cases, managers must try to redirect employee goals so they bring some benefit to the company. In extreme cases where employee objectives run counter to those of the company, it may become necessary to suggest the employee’s long-term goals would be better suited in a different organization.
Communicating Career Goals
Misalignment between employee career goals and organizational objectives often comes down to a lack of communication. Employees who don’t understand the organization’s mission are more likely to develop misaligned goals. Employees with an awareness of the big picture, in contrast, are more likely to have goals that also benefit the company.
Managers need to communicate the link between the employee’s daily responsibilities and the objectives of the employee’s team, department, and larger organization. Doing so provides the employee with an understanding of their value to the company and how their efforts help achieve big-picture goals. Such information increases employee engagement and helps employees develop goals that increase their worth to the company.
Regular employee surveys help gauge how well you’ve presented this information to employees. Questions to ask in such surveys include:
- Do you know and understand company goals?
- Do you see the connection between your daily work and the long-term objectives of the company?
- Do you understand how your contributions impact the business?
DOWNLOAD THE E-BOOK: The Ultimate Guide to Employee Engagement Surveys
Aligning SMART Goals with Organizational Objectives
SMART goals are targeted objectives that give employees milestones to achieve and accountability for reaching said milestones. SMART goals are an excellent way to align employee goals and objectives with company goals, as relevance is built right into the goal-setting system. A SMART goal must be:
SMART goals are intended for use with individual employees or small teams, making them a valuable tool for any career conversation. By setting specific, relevant, and timely goals, managers and employees contribute work that meets the needs of both the employee and the company. Such goals are highly specific, are small enough to be attainable between scheduled 1:1 meetings, and produce measurable outcomes. If an employee is reaching mutually agreed-upon SMART goals, chances are his or 12her goals support those of the business.
SEE ALSO: The HR Innovator’s Guide to SMART Goals
Goal management software provides the tools needed to measure and monitor individual goals while providing a framework for aligning company and employee goals and objectives. When aligned, personal and organizational goals are a win-win proposition, increasing employee engagement while supporting the overall direction of the company.