Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
An executive team goes on an offsite to set the company’s goals for the quarter. They make unilateral decisions on what they believe all of their teams should be focusing on without considering those teams’ bandwidth or current projects. The goals themselves are either centered around keeping the lights on or are so aspirational that the team would need double the head count to hit them. And yet, in the end, it doesn’t matter since those goals get put into a spreadsheet in a forgotten shared folder, never to be seen again, until the next quarterly all-hands meeting. Nothing changes, business goes on as usual, and the process repeats again in 3 months.
So what’s the point of setting these goals in the first place? If you ask the average employee what the company’s quarterly goals are, they likely don’t know. Or they have some idea (increase revenue, ship new features, get a certification), but don’t know how their work fits into those goals. The grand company vision, what used to drive the direction for everyone, is relegated to an onboarding presentation where it must compete for attention against practical tips like “how to use the coffee maker” or “who to send the reports to.” Alignment begins to slip away, teams are siloed and fragmented, and that up-and-to-the-right growth chart starts to head in the other direction.
Even if this is something that you’re not experiencing currently, you’ve likely been at a company that has had its growing pains. Once you stop being able to fit everyone around the same table, once tapping people on the shoulder starts requiring a plane ticket, it becomes more difficult to have your company aligned to a single mission. And where you could once inspire action by answering, “What are our goals?” moving the needle now demands coordination between teams, sites, and divisions.
Whether you’re trying to be more productive or get your company back on track, making it easy for everyone to rally around your company goals is paramount to growing beyond incremental day-to-day changes. Focusing on high-level outcomes as opposed to the tasks needed to drive them will ensure that your teams still have the autonomy and purpose they