Goals and Barriers – An Overview
A critical first step in achievement of superior organizational and individual performance is the determination of short-term organization-wide goals. This is a matter of defining the macro level expectations of the organization. Once the necessary direction for the organization has been determined, that direction can be translated down through the organization so that all departments and individuals are committed to working toward achievement of the overall goals. In order to do this, each department must have its own set of goals that support the goals of each piece of the company above it in the organizational structure.
In the process of “translating” organization-wide goals to departments and individuals, barriers will surface. These barriers become not an excuse but a roadmap by which the organization can achieve its goals.
The key to using identified barriers to reach organizational goals is to create prioritized action plans for the removal of those barriers. This avoids the phenomenon of employees feeling that they are removing barriers for the sake of removing barriers. The motivation is clear when there is a logical connection established between the barrier and an acknowledged organization-wide goal.
eProcesses begins to understand the level of organizational alignment with respect to a set of goals during the Initial Evaluation stage. During this stage, eProcesses starts with identification of the organization-wide set of goals. Our efforts toward improved alignment continue throughout the relationship between client and consultant.
As the engagement with eProcesses unfolds, our Consultants will work to clarify and articulate an initial set of organization-wide goals. This is not necessarily the same set of goals that we identified during the Initial Evaluation stage. The clarity of the goals is crucial to the effectiveness of the goal translation. It may seem obvious, but achieving organizational alignment around a set of goals is unlikely when the goals lack clarity and specificity.
Effective goals force the organization to stretch. There must be sufficient challenge associated with the goals to motivate an attempt to reach the goals, without having so much stretch employees and managers simply shake their heads incredulously. A general expectation for appropriate stretch will depend on your specific organization, but eProcesses finds that a 20-25% improvement in organizational performance is reachable in most client organizations.
There are a number of ways to categorize or classify goals. There should generally be at least one goal associated with each of the following areas: Quality, Service level, Cost, Customer Satisfaction, and Revenue.
As goals are translated from “Corporate” to “Department” to “Individual” levels in the organization, barriers will often be raised. eProcesses will document these barriers and, with the management team, prioritize them. Priorities should be based both on perceived impact and on perceived level of effort required for resolution. It is through the resolution of these barriers that most clients will find achievement of their goals.
A systematic effort to not only identify, but remove, barriers should become part of the organizational culture. In this way, an organizational expectation of continuous improvement is established. Simultaneous with the establishment of the continuous improvement expectation, the organization must assure that the tools required to remove the barriers and a system to reward the efforts to remove the barriers are in place. The culture will gradually reflect an atmosphere where everyone is working consciously to continuously improvement organizational performance.
In order for goals and barrier removal and continuous improvement to appear intentionally linked within the culture, metrics must be established to track performance against key organizational goals and to identify performance within the various organizational improvement initiatives. In some circles, this is known as a System for Managing. It should provide each manager at each level with a scorecard on a daily, or at least weekly, basis so that each manager can answer the question “How did we do?”
Tracking relevant performance metrics across a relevant interval of time and reporting it within a System for Managing will allow managers and supervisors to see progress. This is not enough. Where significant change is under way, it is important also to attempt to provide each individual employee with some visual reminder of the progress being made and their part in it. Success breeds success and visible improvement breeds more visible improvement. A highly visible graph or chart in addition to a well-placed table showing individual performance will enhance the organization’s long-term ability to achieve and sustain performance improvement.
In an environment that is placing constant demands on organizations to improve, senior management must assure that goals are translated and aligned so that everyone is working toward the same objectives and moving in the same direction. Any goals worth attempting to reach are not going to be easy. Challenging goals, by their nature, will imply individual or organizational barriers. In order to achieve the communicated goals, then, barriers must be identified and removed. And the efforts and results must be broadly communicated so that the improvement is sustained rather than short-lived.