Are your goals actually YOUR goals? Since the development of organizational strategic planning became a standard operating practice, organizations have set goals toward which they strive and around which they base decision-making.
Goals serve several purposes. Goals:
- Defines future direction
- Provides a tool for measuring success
- Prioritizes resources
- Aligns the collective efforts of the organization
Goals are essential to the success of any organization. So it makes sense to have them to help teams get their jobs done. But sometimes the very best intentions around setting and implementing goals end up causing unintended problems.
Does this scenario sound familiar?
The senior leadership team in your organization holds a strategic planning day, usually off site, and your Director comes back with a new set of strategic priorities and a renewed enthusiasm for the great things the organization will accomplish at the completion of this new plan.
Now the task falls to each department to come up with their departmental goals that fit within the plan. You and your colleagues spend a few sessions brainstorming, defining, and prioritizing goals to set the direction for your department. The team is motivated and energized and embarks on the journey to accomplish ambitious goals.
At some point, your department hits a road block and has to compete for the resources to continue.
What started as an execution of well-intentioned, well-thought-out plans becomes a frustrating power struggle between departments with competing priorities.
The relationships between departments breakdown and silos develop.
The Shape of Organizational Health
Picture the hierarchy in your mind. What shape is it? Probably a triangle, most are.
The fewest people at the top hold the most power. All of the weight of the organization rests on the shoulders of the people at the bottom. They give life to the mission. They are the first to know when something isn’t working and they are the first to know how to fix it. Yet, getting that knowledge to the top of the triangle is like swimming upstream.
Flip the triangle on its head and it resembles a filter. Now the power is at the bottom of the triangle, supporting the people with the knowledge, skills, and direct access to customers. Imagine that valuable knowledge flowing easily down through the filter to inform strategic decision-making.
Then those decisions conform to the reality and the knowledge from the “life-givers”, rather than the employees fitting into a mold that may not be what’s best for the company.
How could the triangle be flipped? Who are the “make it happen” people? Has your company struggled to implement something that front line people resist? Where are the voices of the “life-givers” heard? Where are they not heard? I would love to hear your thought!
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