Effective Goal Management

By Mary Stanton

Updated Over a Week Ago

Minute Read

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Goal management is often overlooked. So it’s a good time to take a fresh look at it and what it can do for your team and organization.

What is Goal Management?

While many people might think of goal management and automatically imagine a dull list of objectives tied to employee performance and metrics no one ever cares about, true goal management is much more.

At its heart, goal management is an effective tool that can be used to develop and use your employees’ valuable skills, talent, and experience, all in the service of assisting your organization in meeting its business goals.

Often, employee goals tethered to an annual performance review are set aside, never to be seen again. This busy work is jotted down on paper or filed away somewhere on a hard drive. It’s simply not helpful or insightful.

After all, our daily work is a constant stream of changes ranging from organizational maneuvers, ever-shifting requests, and personnel upheaval. It’s fairly common in the flow of work to let individual, department, and organizational goals fall by the wayside.

Why Goal Management is Your Best Friend

Research from Bersin & Associates discovered that when a company’s leaders and managers revisit the organization’s goals, the results are dramatic: those organizations outperform other ones that create annual cascading-goal programs.

Another vital strategy is linking employee performance goals to the company’s overall goals (not just the success of managers). With this approach, also called organization-centric goal alignment, goals are put in place for the entire organization. Every employee knows these goals, and then employees are urged to create individual goals that support the overall organizational goals.

During a revamping of its corporate culture, the Zoological Society of San Diego debuted a new strategic plan. Managers were given the tools they needed to effectively manage employee performance and challenged their people to each select three individual goals that were directly tied to overall organizational goals.

In the end, the Zoological Society of San Diego achieved organizational goal alignment and made sure that ongoing reviews and feedback became part of their culture.


Most likely, the SMART goals concept needs no introduction. SMART goals are ubiquitous because it’s a brilliant strategy that engages employees and foster accountability.

When approaching SMART goals with employees, you can make it easier for them by creating specific fields that can be filled out (using your talent management platform or an electronic form) if you can give an example of a SMART goal, all the better.

Keep the Conversation Going

Goal management thrives in an environment where continuous conversations occur between managers and employees. Managers should be comfortable with feedback, development, and coaching so that their employees’ performance stays on track. This helps organizational performance stay on track as well.

When employees and managers frequently talk, adjusting goals as needed becomes the “new normal.” If the market changes or competitors shift gears, everyone can adjust to keep up with the new business requirements.

Which Goals Matter the Most?

We all have to decide what work on our plates gets the most attention. But this can be a real struggle, especially when competing priorities await our attention.

To conquer this problem, consider having managers assign a weight to the employees’ goals on their performance appraisal form. By weighting goals, employees can clearly see the goal’s value to the organization and how it fits in with other priorities.

Communication Counts

Employees look to their managers to set the stage for their success. So it’s not surprising that employees often work on the projects that matter to their managers. To make the subtle shift from “my goal is to please my manager” to “my goals are aligned with the organization’s goals,” stellar communication is the first step.

Managers should work hard on communicating the importance of goals. Then they should check in from time to time with employees about goal progression.

Managers must also report on goal status to other colleagues in relevant departments. When managers do this, they show employees the value of goals and keep everyone in the loop and accountable for performance.

Successful goal management happens when organizations help everyone focus on the success of the overall company and then tie that focus to individual goals.

Putting it All Together

We all need to know that our daily work matters. So help employees be accountable by showing them how their daily efforts contribute to the company’s success. First, make sure employees understand high-level organizational goals. Then ensure they can articulate their individual goals and how they connect to organizational goals.

Making the connection between organizational and individual goals can be an “aha!” moment for your people. After all, when we can see the big picture, our smaller part in it can make us accountable and ultimately more effective.

This approach works for California-based Precision Medical Products in its efforts to align employee goals with the company’s strategic mission. The organization’s emphasis on goal management means their employees have a clear line of sight into how their work matters. From the executives to the manufacturing floor, employees strive for the company’s long-term success.

How Can You Work on Effective Goal Management?

If you have ideas you feel like sharing that might be helpful to readers, share them in the comments section below. Thanks!

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Mary Stanton
Mary Stanton
As Saba's Vice President of People and Learning, Mary is a proven HR Leader with nearly 20 years of experience in building and developing high-performing teams. She enthusiastically collaborates with colleagues to develop and implement new strategies and organizational structure to drive increased productivity and efficiencies.
  • i have never heard or thought of this subject before. i hope in subsequent articles you will address more issues on it. thanks

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