As the dust settles on the Annual Planning season, many mid-market CEOs now face the challenge of achieving and maintaining alignment with the organization's goals for the entire year. For everyone on your executive team, this job should never end. And, as CEO, you are the driver, the one person who can have the single most significant impact on your team's focus and alignment throughout the year. Aligning employee goals with company goals is a continuous process to ensure you don't waste or duplicate effort when running your business.
How do you align employees with company goals?
Communicate the Plan
For employees to get excited about company goals, they must understand why the goals are what they are with complete organizational alignment. As CEO, it's your job to tell the story. People remember stories, not numbers or out-of-context phrases. If your theme for the year is customer retention, for example, tell a customer story that really hits home. It has to be memorable and give great context as to why the goal is essential.
Follow a Rhythm of Work
To achieve alignment of goals across the organization, there has to be a planning process that every department uses. It needs to be systematic, routine and drive the proper flow of information. For example, the exec team should plan first. Then, the company plan should be communicated to departments. Departments plan next. Finally, all plans should be shared across departments to work out dependencies and conflicting priorities. Plans should also be shared across the company so any priorities not aligned with the plan can be challenged. The Plan Rhythm should happen the same way for every team, every quarter.
Extreme Clarity in Goals and Expectations
No plan is complete without clear expectations. There should be precise Red Yellow Green success criteria for every priority at every level. For example, if your goal is to "Implement the New ERP System," everyone should be aligned around what will be considered the success and failure of that goal. It should be crystal clear. In this example, green might be: "All weekly reports are being pulled from the new ERP by the end of the quarter," which is much more specific than "System implemented."
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The happiest and most productive employees understand how their daily work drives the company's long-term strategy. This is true for everyone in the organization, no matter how small their role. As CEO, you should constantly share the long-term vision and paint a picture for your employees of where the company is going. If your Core Purpose is to "Positively impact the life of every student and set them on a path for life success," the person answering your front-line phone should convey that with every interaction. If your Winning Move is to "Launch in a new international market," your marketing team will understand why localized translations are so meaningful.
Drive Weekly Accountability with Dashboards
Team alignment continues once you have your quarterly plan. An effective Weekly Meeting Rhythm is the glue that keeps everyone aligned as they execute throughout the quarter. Similar to the planning process, there should be a routine, systematic approach to having effective weekly meetings across the organization. For example, the departments might have weekly meetings on Monday morning, and the executive team might meet on Monday afternoon. This allows the flow of information to come up to the exec team. Any issues around stuck priorities, priorities that are competing for shared resources, or priorities that need to be stopped altogether will come up for discussion with the exec team. This provides the opportunity to have those discussions cross-functionally.
Focus on Your Plan
Be relentless. Be that person who never shuts up about the company's strategy & execution plans. Your team should know your Theme and Priorities because you constantly talk about them. It's up to you to keep it front and center of every meeting and discussion. For some high-growth companies, you might hire 50 new people this quarter. Remember, they've never heard it before. You have to evangelize and be an advocate for your strategic plan constantly. As CEO, it should be your primary function.
I hope that you enjoyed the goal alignment example in the blog. It is a process to align employee goals with company goals that must be repeated daily and quarterly to ensure they stay aligned. For the company to function, we need to know how to align personal goals with organizational goals.
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Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images
Photo Credit: iStock by Getty Images