It’s an all-too-common scenario: The organization for which you work has clearly communicated company-wide goals, but your team is struggling to hit its targets.
Your team members work hard but tell you they don’t understand how their work contributes to the broader objectives of the organization. This confusion leads to many of them losing motivation and becoming disengaged — and it’s impacting overall performance.
The disconnect among employees and teams is real; in fact, 30% of organizations report that lack of coordination across units is the most significant obstacle in successfully executing their strategy.
Now, imagine a different scenario in which your team is aligned with the broader objectives of the organization, and each team member has a clear understanding of how their work contributes to the success of the company. Your workforce feels engaged and motivated, and your team’s performance is exceptional.
The difference between these two scenarios lies in the implementation of cascading goals.
In this article, we’ll break down:
- The concept of cascading goals, including examples of how they work in practice
- The benefits and challenges of implementing cascading goals in a business, and
- The best practices for rolling out this approach at your organization
Cascading Goals: What They Are and Why They Matter
Cascading goals play a vital role in effective goal setting within organizations. This approach involves establishing overarching organizational objectives at the executive level, and then breaking them down into smaller, more specific goals for teams and individual employees.
By implementing cascading goals throughout an organization, the members of your organization can establish a clear sense of strategic alignment and shared purpose. It also helps team members see how their individual work directly contributes to the overall success of the organization.
What Are Some Examples of Cascading Goals?
Here are some examples of cascading goals:
- Revenue targets: Sales and marketing goals to increase revenue by 15% in the upcoming year.
- Expense reduction: Operations goal to reduce expenses by 10% in the upcoming year.
- Compliance: Legal and risk management team goals to achieve 100% compliance with internal policies and regulations.
- Customer satisfaction: Customer service and account management team goals to improve customer satisfaction rating by 15%.
- Talent development: Human resources and training team goals to develop and retain top talent with a 90% employee retention rate.
The Benefits of Cascading Goals
Here are some of the major benefits of cascading goals:
Alignment of Organizational Objectives and Individual Goals
Cascading goals help individual employees align their goals with the overall objectives of the organization. This alignment ensures that everyone is working towards the same goals, which increases the chance of company-wide success.
Increased Employee Engagement and Motivation
By breaking down larger goals into smaller, achievable targets, employees can see how their work ladders up to the overall success of the organization. This sense of purpose and contribution can improve motivation and engagement throughout a company.
Improved Communication and Collaboration
Cascading goals require communication and collaboration across different teams and departments which can help a company eliminate informational silos and improve communication throughout the organization.
Enhanced Accountability and Transparency
Cascading goals require tracking and reporting on the progress employees and teams make toward each target. This tracking increases transparency and accountability throughout the organization. By regularly monitoring progress and providing feedback to everyone involved in meeting the organization’s objectives, employees can take ownership of their work and see the impact they are making.
Overcoming Common Challenges of Cascading Goals
Despite the many benefits of cascading goals, implementing them effectively can be challenging. Here are some common pitfalls leaders will want to avoid in the implementation process:
Lack of Transparency and Communication
Without transparency and clear communication, employees may not understand the purpose of the goals or how they align with the organization’s overall strategy. To avoid this misalignment, it’s important to ensure that leadership clearly communicates these goals to all employees and that they track and regularly report on progress towards these goals.
Unclear Expectations and Goals
When goals are unclear, it can be difficult for employees to determine the specific actions they need to take to achieve them. To avoid this difficulty, set goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) — and ensure employees have a clear understanding of what you expect from them.
Without adequate resources, it can be difficult for employees to achieve their goals. You can avoid this issue by making sure employees have the necessary tools, training, and support to achieve their goals. Additionally, it’s important to allocate resources based on the priority of the goals and to regularly assess whether additional resources are needed.
Resistance to Change
Change can be difficult for some employees, and they may resist new goals and processes. To help employees embrace change, involve them in the goal-setting process, communicate the benefits of the new goals, and provide training and support, such as goal-setting workshops, to support employees as they learn to adapt.
Make sure to celebrate small wins and milestones along the way to help keep employees motivated and engaged.
Get practical strategies you can apply for personal and professional growth. Sign up for The Weekly Return newsletter today.By providing your email address, you agree to receive email communication from Arootah
How to Successfully Implement Cascading Goals
Here’s a detailed workflow for rolling out a cascading goal. At Arootah, we follow a tried and true process centered around three key areas:
When it comes to effectively cascading a goal, the first step is to define a set of clear and specific organizational goals. These goals should be aligned with your company’s mission, vision, and values.
At Arootah, we begin the goal-setting process by selecting goals that align with our firm’s mission statement. We then set company-wide goals, which we prioritize by scoring using a set of weighted criteria.
Once company-wide goals have been clarified and prioritized, they can then begin to cascade. Organizational goals should then be broken down into departmental or committee goals. Each department or committee should develop goals specific to their area of responsibility and that support the overall organizational goals.
This approach ensures that all team members understand how their work contributes to the overall success of the firm.
This is also where having a well-defined decision-making process is critical. As goals begin to cascade down from the executive level, decisions must be made about which projects to prioritize, how to allocate resources, and how to measure progress.
At Arootah, we rely on our proprietary Decision Matrix app to enable us to select and prioritize the right projects team members should focus on based on those company-wide goals.
Once projects are decided on and prioritized, each department creates a project plan for each of its goals that includes action items, deadlines, and start lines. (We’ve got an app for that too — our Project Planning app.) We then examine and prioritize each section and action item within the project plan and assign them to someone from the team.
Once departmental/committee goals are set, individual employee priorities are developed. Employees each have clear priorities that they update weekly and that align with their departmental goals, and that support the overall organizational goals.
Organizations must monitor progress regularly to ensure that everyone is meeting their goals. That monitoring process may include one-on-one meetings, team stand-ups, or mid-year and annual reviews. These touchpoints can serve as an opportunity for employees to discuss any issues they’ve had in completing their goals, review metrics, and make any necessary adjustments to track progress toward their objectives.
To ensure that everyone stays on track with their goals at Arootah, we’ve implemented a Results Committee dedicated to monitoring the progress our employees make toward their goals and ensuring that they meet all goals. This committee is an important part of our process, as it provides an objective perspective on performance and helps keep everyone accountable, across all levels of the company.
Another way we ensure our team members stay aligned with and accountable to their goals is through our priority report process. Team members’ individual priorities come directly from the action items in the project plan/s their team or committee assigns to them.
Each week, team members meet with their managers to create a priority report to outline their work for the coming week. This process creates accountability and helps tie each employees’ individual work into the firm’s overall goals. The priority reports ensure everyone stays focused on their highest-priority goals and that our day-to-day work is in alignment with the broader objectives of the company.
We even go one step further in tracking goal progress through time reconciliation. By using technology to track how our team members are actually spending their time each week, the firm can ensure that everyone is focused on the goals that matter most and that we are effectively using our resources.
The Bottom Line
Cascading goals are an effective, top-down goal-setting strategy. By breaking down larger goals into smaller, achievable targets, employees can see how their work contributes to the overall success of the organization, improving their motivation and engagement. However, implementing cascading goals with a lack of transparency and communication, or with insufficient resources may be ineffective.
That’s where Arootah comes in. We understand the importance of goals in driving organizational success. That’s why we empower your workforce with the tools and skills they need to align, implement, and achieve goals across an organization.
Our goal-setting workshops provide your team with the guidance they need to navigate challenges and stay focused on achieving their highest-priority goals. With our support, your people can develop a goal-oriented mindset that drives them toward success, both individually and collectively. To get started, take our quick assessment to see whether your team’s goal-setting process is conducive to organizational success.