Organizations today are spending more time collaborating, which means alignment around goals is becoming even more important. Managers are critical to this process. To support the company’s collaboration and alignment efforts, the manager’s role must include aligning priorities, coaching for performance and recognizing achievements. This means managers need to be positioned to coach talent using the company’s goal structure.
Managers are responsible for communicating how individual goals and organizational goals are connected. Since collaborative efforts encourage cross-functional work, managers must communicate using openness and transparency at every level of the organization. An example would be when human resources and marketing teams collaborate on brand strategy for customers, employees and candidates. It’s cross-functional work that demands everyone understand the organizational brand strategy.
Organizations that use goal setting to improve alignment and collaboration see an increase in employee engagement, which improves productivity and leads to higher goal achievement. Managers play a huge role in employee engagement scores. Gallup’s State of the American Manager report indicates that at least 70 percent of the variance in employee engagement scores across business units is attributed to manager involvement. The same study found that just 30% of U.S. workers are engaged, demonstrating a clear link between poor managing and a nation of “checked out” employees. Managers need to connect those “checked out” employees to goals by providing insight into performance, and coaching for stronger collaboration on the organizational priorities that matter most.
However, this means that organizations need to teach managers how to coach employees to work better cross functionally. The BetterWorks Q3 2015 Goal Science Quarterly indicated that 18 percent of goals are aligned outside of a department, and managers need to know how to coach for that. Here are four strategies for making managers better goal coaches:
- Make the process easy and intuitive. When employees find it easy to set clear goals, they were four times more likely to score in the top 25 percent of business outcomes.
- Track quality not quantity of work. Managers should trust employees to use their knowledge, skills and abilities to achieve their goals. Instead of employees reporting their tasks and projects, managers should monitor for business outcomes.
- Encourage employees to regularly review their goals. Employees who revise or review their goals at least quarterly were three-and-a-half times more likely to score in the top 25 percent of business outcomes. However, more than half (54 percent) of organizations report their employees only review or revise their goals once per year, if at all.
- Hold employees accountable. With greater openness and transparency across the organization, managers and employees should be well aware of quarterly goals and the steps needed to get there.
In an increasingly collaborative work environment, we need to flip the original goal setting structure upside down. Managers need to communicate the goal setting framework, but it’s the employee’s responsibility to engage and achieve the goal. The manager’s role is to support and coach the employee with trust, openness and transparency.