Getting Your Team To Develop Goals Aligned With Your Strategy

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We’ve all seen this before.  We ask our teams to develop individual goals that are aligned to corporate strategy, but we find that our teams are trying to force-fit their own personal goals (read: things they want to do, irrespective of corporate strategy) into the strategy framework.  In other words, if you have a team member who really wants to take a Java class, but there’s no link to that objective and to achieving the desired technology component to the corporate strategy, you need to get that team member aligned appropriately while still helping them achieve their own goals in the context of business operations.

This is symptomatic of our not providing clear leadership, tying strategic goals back to regular day-to-day tactical life; basically showing how real work RIGHT NOW is tied to strategic goals.  Try this framework on for size and see if it works for you.  It’s a take (maybe?) on the ‘Three Step Plan’, though I have to confess that apart from Andy Willoughby’s website, which is pretty much content-free, I still have no idea what the ‘3 Step Plan’ really is:

ONE Message – Evangelize!: Once you’ve rolled out the strategic roadmap, giving the presentation, handing out t-shirts and the like, you need to be an evangelist for the roadmap on a DAILY BASIS.  That means that you seek to put most events, work, issues and opportunities within the framework of the roadmap.  If the business strategy changes, so should the roadmap as well as the gospel you’re preaching.  The aim here is to get your team to understand that: 1.) the roadmap is REAL and it isn’t going anywhere’ 2.) that the roadmap is a regular topic of conversation, as it has a strong relationship to every day real work; and 3.) that you take it seriously.

TWO Questions to Ask: Ask these two questions about every goal proposed by your team: 1.) What business problem will this solve?; and 2.) How will things be different tomorrow after you’ve achieved this goal?

THREE Workstreams: There are three workstreams in business technology in which the strategy needs to be realized in the form of tactical objectives and individual goals:  1.) Day to Day Production Support and Issue Resolution or ‘Lights On’; 2.) Projects and Initiatives or ‘New Development’; and 3.) Policy and Procedures.  There is no ‘fourth workstream’ called ‘Strategy’.  Any strategy must be executed in one of these three workstreams.  Make sure your teams understand this and that they develop their tactical objectives within this framework.

One last word on measurement.  Ask each team member to define the OBJECTIVE measure by which they’ll know that their goal was attained.  The key here is ‘objective’ and I use the following example to make the point.

Your team member should choose a measure that, if you (the boss) were to be hit by a bus the week before reviews are due, that there would be NO QUESTION as to whether the goal was achieved or not.  No one can argue that 2+2 doesn’t equal 4; it’s another matter if you’re stating that you’re going to do a “really great job” at something.  Quantify it where you can and leave no mistake as to whether the goal was achieved.

In an upcoming post, I’ll talk about developing strategic roadmaps and tying them to actual day-to-day life for your teams.  As always, comments and emails on this and other posts are always appreciated!

© 2011 – Mark E. Calabrese

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