Focus. Discipline. Collaboration. Consistency. Accuracy. These are all great reasons for companies to establish goal-setting processes. But as your organization gets more mature around goals and goal management, the real opportunity emerges—the chance to use all of the big data in your enterprise to answer really interesting performance questions.

People analytics is a data-driven approach to managing employees at work. Companies such as Intel, Procter & Gamble, and Google are using people analytics to reinvent HR by bringing data and sophisticated analysis to bear on issues from recruiting and performance evaluation to leadership, hiring, promotion, team design and compensation.

Predictive analytics support both human resources and business leaders. For example, modern goal-setting and tracking platforms can tell if achievement distribution varies by function, department or manager. They can give you actionable intelligence to do something different, so having goals and outcomes together is helpful.

Goal setting based on modern goal science concepts delivers operational excellence. And the byproduct of operational excellence is organizational insight. When you execute, you reap great rewards because you can optimize your organization based on what you know. Let me explain with this chart:


True performance can only be measured by correlating real-world results with goal-setting processes, for example what’s recorded in your goal management system.

If your company is only achieving a low % in the real-world and that matches what appears in your goal system, it’s probably a function of employees setting and actually reaching goals that don’t really matter. If your company is performing near perfectly in the real world, but your system is tracking a low level of success, employee goals are probably too aspirational.

In contrast, if your goal-setting platform shows 100% achievement, but real-world performance is way below average, there is likely lots of talk about goals and achievement in the business, and probably an organizational bias towards politicking and image.

Companies that are achieving the highest performance in the marketplace and the goal platform are fine tuned. They value goals and processes around them—and may even benefit from setting more aspirational goals in the future.

There’s little doubt in my mind that the right goal-setting application can improve operational excellence and give your organization the insight it needs to maximize the contributions all of your employees. Isn’t that ultimately what people operations and data-driven HR is all about—helping employees excel?