It goes without saying that a cornerstone of effective business performance is planning. Without a clear line of sight and a plan of how you’re going to get there, it is unlikely that an organisation will achieve its strategic aims and chaos can ensue. As someone once said “If you don’t know where you are going, you are likely to end up somewhere else”. And, of course, this plan needs to translated into business performance objectives and goals.
But the challenge that we see from talking to businesses across all sectors, is to then take these higher level organisational goals and translate them meaningfully into real activities across the business – and to monitor and measure progress against these performance objectives.
Cascade across the business
Surely, with business plans in place, the performance management process should kick in to filter these plans through the organisation so that each division, department, function, team, manager and individual is clear on exactly what they need to do in order to achieve the company’s goals. Typically this is called ‘cascading’.
This ‘cascading’ process has its challenges – but the benefits of linking up individual efforts and priorities with the bigger picture are clear.
- Focus all staff on key priorities and leads to increased performance, both on a personal level and an organisational one
- Enable progress and success to be monitored and measured
- Create higher staff commitment and motivation
- Improve resilience and reduce stress; having clear, achievable goals is something that has been shown to improve people’s ability to cope with pressure and challenge
- Provide inspiration and meaning to people’s work. When you can see how your own endeavours lead to increased customer satisfaction, higher profit margins, product innovation, cost reduction or a better market position can give meaning and purpose to what you do, connecting you to outcomes that have a real impact on the company and its customers.
It should be straightforward, shouldn’t it, to cascade these objectives so that everyone knows what they need to achieve and are working for a common goal? So why don't all organisations do this? Perhaps because their talent management software platform doesn’t enable them to do this.
The Head Light way
At Head Light we employ a couple of useful tools for cascading and setting performance objectives – and use these along side our award-winning Talent Performance
One is our extension of the SMART acronym (around here we have SMART EARS), and we have TOM (Team Objective Matrix) to help us do our planning on a team basis. It’s a process by which individual team members can explore how they can personally contribute to higher-level goals, how their work connects with and supports others, and how the team can work effectively together to achieve a common purpose.
But remember, whilst it’s important to align your own efforts with a higher purpose, it’s also important to employ some systems thinking and look at the inter-dependencies and interrelationships between individual roles. No-one’s objectives sit in a vacuum, yet all too often companies treat them as though they do.
Take a look at your own objectives – and see if you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions.
- Do you understand the business context and how the objectives fit in to broader strategic aims and goals?
- Can you articulate what impact they will have on the team’s objectives? On customers? On organisational performance?
- Can you see how they actively support or link to the strategy or the operational priorities of the organisation?
If you can’t answer yes to these questions it might be time to review what you are doing.
Using tools like TOM and Talent Performance® can help you make those critical links that provide you with goals that are purposeful, meaningful and motivational
Perhaps now is the time to learn more about making the transition to continuous performance management - and when you're ready, request our free eBook - Continuous Performance Management - and how to to get started