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3 Ways to Tie Individual Goals to Business Goals

By Diane Strohfus

Businesses are facing a dilemma when it comes to goals: according to Gallup, employee productivity increases by 56 percent when managers are involved in helping their reports align their goals with the needs of the organization. Despite this, only 44 percent of those employees felt they could connect their goals to those of the organization’s goals. This means that somewhere, there’s an alarming disconnect.

For organizations to remain agile and meet their strategic objectives, their entire workforce must be able to understand the impact their work has on the business as a whole. Feeling that their goals are meaningful and understanding how they tie back to the ‘Big Picture’ is a top driver of motivation for employees, and this alignment is essential for keeping your workforce focused and maximizing profits for your company.

With that in mind, here are three ways business leaders can help employees map their individual goals back to the organization’s goals and ensure your workforce stays focused on the priorities that move the needle.

Tip 1: Nurture a Sense of Purpose

When employees are able to link their individual goals to those of the organization, they are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged. This nurtures a sense of purpose in the workplace, as it allows employees to link their work to the bigger picture. Doing so unifies and engages managers, employees and the entire organization and can make a significant positive impact on your bottom line. In a survey of 1,500 global C-Suite executives, research from DDI found that those companies that clearly define and then act on a sense of purpose outperformed the financial markets by 42%.

Nurturing this sense of purpose within the workplace makes employees feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission and goals. But it is also critical that business leaders, in turn, connect the work and goals of each employee. One major step that leaders can take is to make the business’ goals transparent, enabling individuals and teams to align their objectives with the company’s overall direction. This increased visibility into the organization’s top-level goals gives employees more clarity and confidence in knowing how their work contributes to the company’s success.

Gallup’s study also shows that today’s workers are most interested in opportunities to learn and grow, and crave managers who care about them as individuals. Managers can help nurture purpose by acting as coaches and collaborating on goal setting with the individual’s personal career goals in mind, in addition to the company’s.

Tip 2: Get Employees Involved in Goal Setting

When setting goals at the employee level, a good manager should establish expectations up front and give employees a voice in the process.

Gallup found that employees whose managers involve them in goal setting are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged. Managers should collaborate with employees to define performance expectations based on that individual’s abilities, aspirations, and developmental needs. An effective way to do this is to set FAST goals, (Frequently discussed, Ambitious, Specific, and Transparent). Frequent conversations around goals help ensure the individual understands the impact and value of their work and how it aligns with the organization. Encouraging employees to set ambitious goals is critical to their and the company’s success. It’s tempting to play it safe, but employees who set and pursue ambitious goals significantly outperform those with less challenging objectives. Ambitious goal setting ensures employees will feel more fulfilled in the workplace, and benefits the business at large.

Tip 3: Create a Culture of Continuous Feedback

Nurturing a sense of purpose in the workplace and involving employees in goal setting creates a “Culture of Performance” that ensures your business’ objectives are met and contributes to a long-term competitive advantage. But this can all crumble when feedback comes infrequently.

Unfortunately, only 17 percent of U.S. employees strongly agree their company has open communication, which leaves employees unclear about how their individual work is making a difference to the company’s mission. One way to boost performance, ensure goals are aligned, and remind employees their work is meaningful to the business’ overall strategy is to implement a Continuous Performance Management process.

Lightweight, frequent conversations between employees and their managers motivates employees and ensures that they have a clearer understanding of what is expected of them. It also makes it simpler for managers to regularly assess how the overall business goals are aligning to individual goals and performance, especially as the goals of the larger organization evolve over time.

Establishing a culture of ongoing feedback helps motivate employees to achieve their goals and push themselves to meet new challenges. It also fosters trust among relationships across the organization, improving transparency and communication and giving managers at all levels a chance to remedy unforeseen issues before it’s too late.


In her role as CHRO of Betterworks, Diane Strohfus sits at the intersection of HR strategy and technology. Leveraging her unique experience, Diane is responsible for scaling the company through innovative people practices while simultaneously working closely with the product team to influence and evolve the companies product offerings. This article was originally published on the Workology blog and was reprinted with permission.


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