It’s commonly known that goal setting is a hugely important practice in the workplace. At the highest level, every company strives to set goals, whether yearly, quarterly, or monthly.
But goals shouldn’t stop at the top. With research indicating that only 14% of employees understand their company’s strategy and direction, it’s clear that more is needed. For successful goal setting, team activity should be aligned with the company’s wider aims, and individual goals should be aligned with team ones. No matter the size of your business, keeping every employee aligned is essential, and your goal-setting practices will make all the difference.
What are cascading goals?
Cascading goals are goals that flow from the top level down to the lowest, ensuring alignment between overall strategy and execution. When carried out correctly, they ensure that everyday tasks and responsibilities at lower levels reflect overarching aims. They can be carried out either company-wide or team-wide, with goals flowing down from either the top level of an organization to the bottom or from a manager to their reports.
Cascading goals not only ensure that both teams and individual employees are striving toward the same thing, but also fosters a sense of purpose across the board, where everyone, regardless of their position in the organizational hierarchy, is contributing toward the same overall outcome.
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Cascading goals and company-wide benefits
Research from Forbes indicates that 50 percent of employees surveyed believed their organizations are held back by a lack of transparency. In addition to generally feeling like part of something bigger, it can be very positive for reports to be aware of what their managers are working on and how that directly relates to their job functions. Cascading goals are a great way to boost this awareness and establish the link between manager and employee job functions. They are also a great opportunity to increase your team’s awareness of what their colleagues are working on, encouraging collaboration and enabling team members to support each other’s ongoing tasks and projects. Transparency also makes it easier to provide meaningful, ongoing feedback and celebrate milestones reached as a team.
Increased sense of purpose
By setting cascading goals, you can ensure everyone is aware of the wider purpose surrounding their daily work. It’s very motivating for people to see that they play an important role in the company and that they are contributing to the company’s growth and success.
A recent Gallup poll showed that 72 percent of employees whose managers help them set performance goals are fully engaged at work. And with cascading goals ensuring that an individual’s performance goals link to the team’s wider aims, they’re a great way to ensure that every employee is engaged!
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While cascading goals are great to have in place, they’re not the easiest to set up. Depending on the size and structure of your organization, cascading goals will likely take some time to implement. But in the long run, they will save you time and energy. Once the system is in place and employees are made aware of how their goals relate to wider team and company practices, it will make the performance management process far easier and more streamlined.
If your organization is large, cross-department communication can be an issue when implementing new practices. Even if everyone understands how their goals connect to upper management and wider company aims, things can get lost in translation across departments, with goals sometimes not supporting or conflicting with each other. In introductory meetings, it’s good practice to make everyone aware of department-wide goals, so that everyone sees the bigger picture!
Getting started with cascading goals
There are two important steps when it comes to introducing cascading goals into your company. First, determine how far down you want the goal to cascade. Once this is established, the next step is deciding the logistics: How exactly are you going to delegate goals and responsibilities from the top down?
Top tips for setting successful cascading goals
Set quality goals
Any kind of goal implementing system is only as good as the goals being set. While cascading goals are effective as a framework, it’s important to ensure that high-quality goals are being put in place, or all your efforts could go to waste.
Keep everyone informed
It can be daunting for people to embrace change. Especially if your team’s goal-setting practices have been the same for some time, it’s important to make sure everyone is on board and fully understands the process and benefits. When introducing cascading goals, it’s good practice to hold team-wide meetings to explain how things will work and give people an opportunity to ask any questions they may have.
Don’t forget to keep it personal
It’s worth mentioning that whilst cascading goals are great in terms of company success, you shouldn’t lose sight of individuals’ personal and professional development goals too! During performance reviews, one-on-ones and when you’re providing ongoing feedback, it’s important to still keep the focus on individual employees’ growth and development, as well as wider company aims.
So now everyone’s goals are aligned, and everyone is aware of exactly what they’re working toward, on both an individual and wider level. Once this is complete, it’s key that there is an ongoing procedure in place to track progress. Using performance management tools is a great way to assign the goals established, help managers check in with their teams’ progress and provide real-time feedback to keep everyone motivated and on track, without interrupting daily workflow.
While they may take some time and effort to implement, cascading goals are an effective way to ensure company-wide alignment, where everyone from upper management to entry-level employees are both working as part of a team and focused on a common objective. When combined with high-quality goals and consistent, effective follow-ups, cascading goals can make a world of difference.
Bas Kohnke is the co-founder of Impraise, the People Enablement Platform. He founded Impraise to help unleash people’s potential through more than just performance reviews: accelerating performance, fostering career development, and seizing all the moments that happen in between.
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