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1 viapeople Insight - Whitepaper Goal Alignment: How Successful Organizations Social-Network Performance Management Karen N. Caruso, Ph.D. Amanda Seidler, Ph.D.

2 The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going ~Ralph Waldo Emerson A shift in the winds of an organization s strategy can prompt all sorts of demands from the leadership team. There are off-site meetings, strategy consultants, and in some organizations board reviews, all to determine the new marching orders for the organization that allow it to navigate changing market conditions and seize industry opportunities. These substantial efforts - - the time and money spent on strategic planning are all for naught when leaders fail to follow up with expectations for how this strategy must be implemented at every level of the organization. A failure to spell out the tangible elements of the strategic plan, as well as how it will network throughout the company, inhibits execution on the very plans the team has worked so hard to produce. Execution is inextricably linked with the concept of goal alignment. And although most people would agree that the idea of aligning individual goals to strategic goals makes complete sense, there are not many organizations who can report that all of their employees are actually aligned. Organizations need to begin thinking about goal alignment from a more networked perspective. New software is providing opportunities for crowdsourcing the goal setting process in such a way that many individual employees are publicizing highly visible and interconnected contributions to an aligned set of strategic objectives. So, why is implementing something that seems so worthwhile actually so difficult to implement? Back to Basics To answer this question, we first must consider the basic concepts of performance goal setting and the process of goal setting. Although sometimes considered unnecessary, structured goal setting is still the simplest and most efficient way to provide direction and motivate action. Oftentimes, managers and/or employees do not take the time to have a formal discussion of goals for the next 6-12 months following the initial goal setting exercise. And, even when the goal setting process does happen, they may still neglect to connect the dots that is, to ensure that everyone is working towards the same set of higher order goals. This network or connectivity of goals and the people who are setting out to accomplish them are the true keys to goal alignment. Effective goal setting provides an essential foundation to goal alignment.

3 Strength in Numbers For organizations to be successful they must find strength in numbers. After all, most organizations set aggressive strategic goals that require a complex set of skills that no one person or even function can accomplish alone. Organizational goals are most successfully achieved when everyone is working in turn to create the most optimal outcomes. Take as an example the organizational goal: Bring 3 new products to market by the end of the third quarter This type of organizational goal quite obviously will involve a substantial subset of the organization. From R&D, to Legal, and Marketing to Sales and perhaps beyond. A network of functions and individuals will have a hand in accomplishing this strategic objective one piece dependent on the other. Taking the time to set individual and departmental goals that directly link to strategic goals such as this will help to build momentum and synergy pushing things forward and increasing energy towards goal accomplishment. In this way, all involved parties are able to see how their unique contributions have helped to realize such a large and daunting overarching objective. Enhance Goal Alignment Using Socially-Networked Performance Management Technology Performance Management technology is an important tool in facilitating goal alignment and execution. Over the past decade, we have seen organizations utilize Performance Management as a tool to mobilize employee efforts around organizational goals. Organizational leaders and every other involved party can leverage real-time visibility and collaboration to facilitate goal alignment and completion through the use of Performance Management software. These more socially-networked forms of Performance Management software allow employees and their managers, as well as teams/departments to contribute to an aligned set of goals and strategic objectives. Opening the goal alignment process in this social-networked way creates an unprecedented transparency around accomplishing goals by varying individuals, departments and levels. In the same way that Linked In, Facebook, and Twitter have revolutionized our ability to see what each member of our network is focused on, Performance Management technology provides these constant updates on goal alignment and execution. The right technology solution will be flexible enough to provide the appropriate amount of visibility and access given the participant s role and/or network.

4 Effective goal alignment requires ownership and engagement at the C-Suite level. As such, Performance Management software provides the C-Suite with a direct line view of how and by whom goals are being accomplished. Managers can keep track of goal progress and intervene and provide assistance when necessary. Employees can track their own contributions, provide feedback to others, and have clear a view into how their contributions funnel up to the higher order objectives. Align Goals with Competencies Many organizations have used organizational values and competencies as ways in which to differentiate themselves in the increasingly competitive marketplace. Beyond the idea of cascading strategic goals to individual goals, organizations are increasingly looking for employees to connect their individual goals and development plans with the organizational competencies that articulate core values and expected behaviors. The achievement of performance goals and results ( what ) is equally as important as how results are achieved. As such, organizational leaders require their goal setting tools to seamlessly link individual performance goals and development plans to the competencies which are critical to organizational success. For example, a department manager s performance goal to Decrease turnover by 10% by the end of 4 th quarter could be directly linked to the higher level organizational competency of Develops Human Capital. This linkage allows the manager to understand how successfully coaching and developing employees can lead to decreased turnover. Drive Employee Engagement One of the key drivers of employee engagement is involvement in and recognition of accomplishments and performance. Engaging employees is dependent upon an understanding of the organization s strategy, values and goals. Historically speaking, it has not been as common to involve individual contributors in the goal setting process. However, Performance Management technology has ushered in changes to this long-standing process allowing employees to become more engaged in the goal setting and alignment process. Having an employee be the driver and create their own goals perhaps along with other peers and team members is increasingly common practice. Once employees are ready, they can use the software tools to collaboratively work with their manager and finalize their performance goals and action plans. Managers can provide feedback on goals, continually re-align them to support change, and offer on-going feedback on goal progress. Employees have on-going insight into the progress being made across the organization, recognize how their efforts impact organizational success, and

5 highlight their own accomplishments. In this way, both managers and employees have shared accountability for goal setting, monitoring progress and driving execution. Goal Linkage to Performance Evaluation When it comes time to conduct a Performance Evaluation process, organizations that have invested in goal setting and alignment will be at a clear advantage. Leveraging current technology, organizations can choose which details around goal progress and accomplishments to integrate into the appraisal process. Employee s performance evaluations are thus based upon specific goals and clear expectations that were set earlier in the performance period. Managers can provide better performance reviews by consulting the backlog of goal detail as a reference point when making performance ratings and decisions. Ultimately, goal alignment helps to ensure that the valuable time and effort of all employees is focused on the right things rather than on unimportant tasks. Moreover, involving all employees in reaching organizational goals brings about greater loyalty and a sense of commitment to perform at higher levels. Employee s engagement levels in turn impact retention which can help organizations thrive even during difficult times. While focusing everyone s efforts on goal setting and alignment can at times be challenging, the socially-networked nature of Performance Management software tools available today helps to provide valuable strategic insights to both leadership and line level employees throughout the organization. About viapeople, Inc.: viapeople, Inc. is the market leader in providing flexible and easy-to-use employee performance management and succession planning software solutions. By combining the science of Industrial Organizational Psychology and an advanced, fully integrated technology platform, viapeople, Inc. offers the time savings and cost efficiency of online implementation, the flexibility to customize to a client s specific needs, and the domain knowledge to help clients measure and improve the return on their investment in human capital. Visit viapeople, Inc. at

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