Set north star metrics that will stay relevant over the years
At the early stages, everyone probably knows the number by heart. All stakeholders are somewhat involved in all initiatives, and there’s not so much to track anyway.
As you grow, complexity will increase and new departments, teams, initiatives will require focus on new goals. It’ll be a mix of quantitative and qualitative goals, inputs, and outputs.
At this point, resist the pull and don’t get hung up on goals that aren’t that great. While it’s ok to focus on open rate, number of signups, number of cold calls, or time to merge a pull request in order to improve a certain area of the business, make sure that company-wide goals make sense to all stakeholders.
Clearly distinguish individual, team, and company goals. For the company, choose metrics that will keep on being relevant once your business gets bigger.
A solid combination of clear company values and goals will help individual employees make decisions that align with the direction of the company.
Goals must be consistently communicated
Send frequent goal updates to the team
Some habits will stick to keep everyone on the same page:
- Weekly / Monthly CEO communications (i.e. email) with a focus on metrics.
- A good meeting cadence (i.e. weekly / bi-weekly all hands, specific team gatherings).
- Regular, asynchronous communications informing the team of progress and milestones reached.
Repetition is key
Setting a cadence of how progress is shared creates habits and accountability from everyone. These rituals are also the opportunity to celebrate successes or learn from failures as a group.
Don’t rely on meetings too much
Meetings are ok but do have flaws when it comes to communicating data and goals:
- Different countries, time zones, work schedules mean it’s hard to keep everyone in sync as the company grows. Increasingly true if you’re embracing remote work.
- Too many dashboards in your slides: something weird happens where the more you host the same business meeting, the more gets added to it until nobody cares anymore and you have to cut the content. Use dashboards for analysis, then bring synthetic, easy to digest takes to your meetings.
- Lack of personalization: beyond high level goals, every team won’t need the same granularity on tickets (i.e. support team & SLAs).
Step One: Reach Out Early
Effective alignment requires a consultative approach, early on. It means launching discussions that take place as a given strategy is created. That often means you need to do some upfront work, by getting more people involved. You will end up saving time and effort, by inspiring more internal buy-in and deeper emotional investment, with your long-term strategic goals.
Alignment is inclusive, meaning, it allows input. People are far more likely to engage positively with a set of new goals for the year when they feel that their perspective has been taken into consideration and their concerns have been given a fair hearing. By including team members in planning discussions that will affect them, before a strategy is finalized, you will increase the team’s emotional investment in the strategy’s success. When your team members are included, it’s more likely that they will develop a sense of ownership of strategically important initiatives. That’s preferable to your strategy being seen as some upper management “directive” that comes out of nowhere.
Step Two: Keep Everyone Up to Date
One of the biggest sources of delay and confusion in executing strategies is team members and leaders who aren’t kept up to date with the latest information. Team members need not only transparency – meaning access to relevant Information – but also regular contact from someone who will share with them, on a personal level, what’s going on in relation to the big, new idea. People want to be kept in the loop about what affects them. They need to be reassured that they are being given all the relevant information, and that the deliverables for which they will be held responsible are going to be reasonable and within their power to complete. If you don’t communicate with them, they begin to fill in the blanks with their own reality… fantasy.
A Few Tips that help to align on your Company wide Goals
1. Goals set the tone for your organizational strategy.
Organizational goals communicate what's important, and employees plan and execute their work based on those benchmarks. Organizational goals take the company's overall strategy and break it down into manageable chunks, providing checkpoints along the way to reach the overall strategic mark.
2. Employees get a sense of how their contributions are building toward team and organizational goals.
It's easy for an employee to feel lost and become disengaged when they don't understand where they fit in the organizational hierarchy. But when their goals are aligned with those of the company, they see the impact of their actions. It gives everyone a role to play and promotes accountability while providing natural points for recognition and celebration of good work.
3. Priorities are clarified.
Employees have many tasks on their agenda each day, and they're trusted to choose which should be accomplished first to propel the organization forward. When they understand how each task affects the team and organizational goals, it's easier for them to choose the job that needs their attention first.
4. Increase accountability and collaboration
People demonstrate a greater commitment to their goals when shared with someone they believe have higher status than themselves, or whose opinion they value.
In sales teams, goal sharing can not only increase accountability, but help promote collaboration — individuals who know their colleagues’ goals will be able to step up and support them and receive support in return.
5. Aligned goals connect employees and teams.
Alignment connects employees and teams to the organization and helps everyone get on the same page. Employees become disengaged when they feel they're a one-man crew. But when everyone understands how their work is contributing to the organization's main goals, bonds form as everyone works together towards common goals.
6. Help employees achieve their goals.
Employees can’t succeed in a vacuum. They need team and organizational support to set and achieve their goals.
Support looks like:
- Robust onboarding for new hires to understand their role, company goals, and where to go for support
- Ongoing employee training and development to build the skills and knowledge they need to succeed
- Resources and tools to effectively get the job done
- Regular feedback and coaching from managers to ensure work is on track and aligned
Employees who have the support they need to succeed are better positioned to set and achieve goals that strategically align their work with company goals.
7. Your Mission Should Be Your Foundation
The foundation of company alignment is having a shared mission or purpose. Before you can think about aligning your team along revenue targets and other objectives, you need to unite your team with a more powerful vision first – your mission.
Your mission should be one that’s short, memorable and specific
More specifically, what are you trying to do for your customers? Take Google’s mission statement, for instance: “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Think of your mission as a “theme” or motto or phrase – just a few words. Your mission should be one that’s short, memorable and specific.
The purpose of this mission is that it provides your team with the a broader perspective about what they are doing and, most importantly, why. It unites them around a more powerful vision – one that transcends revenue-based objectives.
The second component is then aligning your mission with your specific revenue targets, growth goals and other similar objectives (more on this to come). The idea behind this is that your targets become tied to something arguably much more powerful that your team members can personally connect with.
8. Get buy-in from leadership.
Once you have your organizational goals outlined, it’s time to share them with leadership. Meet with senior and middle managers to communicate your vision and outline the specific goals and benchmarks you’ve identified for the company.
Listen to their feedback and questions to ensure the goals make sense and further refine your messaging. You will need them to understand and buy into these goals in order to effectively communicate them and drive alignment on the ground.