May 2019: Inc. – How to Set Ambitious Goals – and Give Your Employees the Tools To Meet Them

May 9, 2019 | News

Performance Scoring Reviews: Thomas Goetz’s Article on Setting Goals

In his recent Inc. article, “How to Set Ambitious Goals – and Give Your Employees the Tools to Meet Them,” Thomas Goetz discusses strategies for establishing goals and being prepared to achieve them. The strategies of this article are structured around a quantitative method that was encountered during time spent at Google. “Objectives and key results, or OKRs – a method to measure what a company aims to achieve and how an employee could measurably and meaningfully contribute.” One would expect a high-tech company such a Google to be saturated with analytics, but Performance Scoring brings actionable analytics and objective data to any organization. An effective performance management system will measure the progress toward goals and OKRs by the factors contributing or inhibiting the accomplishment of those goals. “OKRs are built in layers: Company OKRs are written by the leadership team, team OKRs by the senior vice presidents and vice presidents, and so on down the ladder, says Goetz. One vital piece to goal setting is that “everyone understands how his or her work contributes to meeting a goal,” but Goetz goes further with three factors that contribute to effective goal-setting.” 

1) Alignment

“Make sure to get goals from the top before getting them from the bottom,” begins Goetz. There is an inherent cascade effect that happens when goals are set from the top, but setting goals from the bottom up may lead to nonalignment and even contradiction. Think of it this like dusting a room: you work from top to bottom to be most efficient and not have to repeat any work. Performance Scoring recommends this alignment strategy to its clients during implementation in determining ScoreCard Categories. With alignment of ScoreCard Categories, a company will measure the performance, in real-time, in route to goals at each layer in the company. “Make sure people understand why some objectives were chosen and why others were not,” Goetz adds to the alignment discussion. 

2) Precision

As Goetz mentions earlier in the article, the experience with OKRs at Google revolves around precision. Obviously, every company isn’t Google, but with commitment, precision is something that should be strived for by all. “Make your goals as specific as they need to be – but don’t force specifics when they aren’t there yet,” Goetz advises. The unique framework of Performance Scoring prevents trying to force specifics by the ability to manage ScoreCard Categories. If there is a struggle defining the specifics of a goal, then the management team can simplcreate new ScoreCard Categories to ensure the measurement is possible regardless of how specific. Goetz encourages that “putting something down is better than nothing,” which returns us to the fundamental management doctrine that you must measure in order to manage. Performance Scoring will measure it all, but if a goal is too specific then simply modify or delete the ScoreCard Category to fine-tune goals and be precise. 

3) Reality

The effects on workforce morale and attitude of poorly set stretch goals should not be underestimated, which is why being realistic is the closing argument of this article. “Know the different between stretch goals and must-hit targets,” cautions Goetz. The importance of continuous performance management is on full display when facing reality, given that real-time performance data displays reality. Reporting features, like the Company ScoreBoard or Dynamic Org Chart, give the insight needed to course-correct and achieve must-hit targets. “Ideally, company goals will be difficult but achievable, with each objective or key result assigned to an owner, and each owner armed with what he or she needs to achieve it.” Setting and accomplishing goals that maximize the value of each employee and team is the responsibility of leadership. Performance Scoring, and other performance management tools, exist in part to prompt and direct the employee engagement to make completing goals and developing employees the common reality for business. 
This (and any other) examination of goal-setting strategies is ultimately ineffective without the proper procedures in place to monitor the progress towards goals. More and more businesses are finding this in the form of performance management systems, like Performance Scoring. “It’s important to remember that OKRs and performance reviews are different; when OKRs are challenging, it’s possible to have low scores but good performance reviews for individuals,” acknowledges Goetz in his closing thought. Performance Scoring’s reporting features, the Company ScoreBoard and Dynamic Org Chart, provide clear data and insight into the performance at each layer in an organization, down to the individual employee. Goetz concludes that “it’s important to know why a goal was missed, and to move forward, together.” That conclusion is about employee development, an appropriate landing spot for an article about goals. Employee development will continue to increase in priority with the growing millennial workforce, and it will become tangibly real for organizations actively using Performance Scoring.