Do you know what your company goals are and how you’re progressing towards them? If you’re scratching your head, you’re not alone. Clear goals, such as “become the market leader,” provide direction and companies need them to grow. Not to mention, they build trust in leadership, help define strategic priorities, and keep employees engaged.
But according to a recent Gallup study, only 22% of employees strongly agree that their organization’s leadership has a clear direction, and only 33% of employees are engaged. These bleak numbers have serious business implications: disengaged employees are less productive, which negatively impacts company growth. This loss in productivity costs the US up to $605B annually.
So if clear goals provide clear direction and help keep employees engaged, why isn’t there a better way to track them so you can actually achieve your company goals? To effectively track your company goals and objectives, follow these six steps so everyone on your team knows what to focus on and the impact of their work.
Step 1: Identify your high-level goals and objectives
Your company, business unit, or department likely has a mission that guides you. To further your work towards your mission, what level of growth do you need to achieve this year? It could be an increase in revenue, new users, people helped, or some other measure. And to reach this number, you might need to accelerate brand awareness in the marketplace, hit your hiring goals, or enter a completely new category.
The key here is to keep narrowing your focus until you zero in on the highest-level goals that will help you hit your growth target for the year.
Make sure each objective is clear, actionable, and attainable.
Once you’ve identified these goals, “become the market leader” for example, break them down into objectives such as “increase revenue by 10% year-over-year.” You might have a few objectives per goal, but that’s okay. This isn’t the time for “the more, the merrier.” Instead, “quality over quantity,” should be your mantra. And make sure each objective is clear, actionable, and attainable.
Step 2: Track your goals in a visible place
Once your high-level goals and objectives are locked down at the beginning of the year, they’re typically shared in a meeting or via email. At first, everyone’s excited about them but as day-to-day demands take over, they start to fade into the background.
When they’re “out of sight, out of mind,” people forget about them, can’t determine if they’re hitting goals effectively (or at all), and wonder what impact their work has. But there’s an easy way to fix this: track your goals in one place where everyone can find and access them.
Benefits of making your goals more visible:
- They’re more likely to stay top of mind (i.e. people will remember what the goals are!)
- Shows that leadership has clear direction (which builds trust).
- Helps employees understand the importance and impact of their work (what they do matters!)
Step 3: Define clear milestones
Once objectives are tracked in a central place (that everyone can access), it’s time to define the milestones that will help you achieve them and let you know you’re on track. Think of this as your action plan with clear measures and a deadline.
For example, to “accelerate brand awareness in the marketplace” one of your milestones could be to “increase year-over-year web traffic by 10% in the first quarter.”
What makes a good milestone?
- It’s measurable: Pinpoint a specific metric—likely a number or qualitative result—that you want to achieve during this milestone so it’s clear what you’re working towards. This isn’t the time to be vague.
- It has a deadline: Make it clear when you want to achieve this milestone. A concrete deadline will help keep you and your team on track.
- Someone is responsible for it: Assign someone to be in charge of reaching the milestone, or lead efforts to. It’s best to pick someone whose role and responsibilities align with the projects and work that will be done.
Step 4: Connect projects to milestones and goals
Now it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of identifying the programs and projects you and your team will work on to hit your milestones. This step is critical to keeping your employees engaged in their work. People want to know that what they do matters, and the best way to show them is to connect their work to high-level goals.
This step will also benefit your business: engaged employees are more likely to stay at a company, be more productive, act as effective brand ambassadors, and provide a better customer experience, which helps drive sales and profitability.
“Before Asana, our company planning was disjointed. As a manager, I didn’t know was going on next week, next month, or next quarter. Asana is now the place of record for the projects that we want to prioritize so we make sure we’re working on the things that will have a big impact. It makes the execution phase of the project seamless.”
– Lauren Nguyen, Head of Product Marketing at Pantheon
Continuing with the goal of “accelerating brand awareness,” you know you need to increase web traffic by 10% in Q1. How will you do this? A few projects within this milestone could be “run a Valentine’s Day social media campaign” and “publish three new customer stories in Q1.” As with milestones, it’s important to assign a project owner, determine a deadline, and outline all of the work that needs to be done.
Step 5: Share progress updates and celebrate success
As your team completes projects and hits milestones, share these updates where you’re tracking the goals. Everyone can see progress and celebrate success—which is great for boosting morale and keeping employees engaged. So when that Valentine’s Day social media campaign goes viral and helps you hit your web traffic goal for Q1, share the results and give a shout-out to the team that worked on it.
Of course, things might not always go according to plan. There will be projects that get delayed and milestones that are missed. This news needs to be shared as well so plans can pivot and priorities can shift before it’s too late.
Step 6: Use previous goals and results to inform your planning
Congratulations! You’ve completed projects, hit milestones, and met goals. Since you have a record of all this information (because you’ve been tracking it), use the learnings as a guide to inform your company planning next year. Carry a goal over (is increasing brand awareness ever really done?) or outline new goals based on business and growth opportunities.
The best part? You now have a template and standard workflow for planning and tracking your company goals. (We’re looking at you, Steps 1-5.)
Let the goal tracking begin!
Company goals are your destination, objectives are your map, milestones are the key markers that you’re heading in the right direction, and your projects and programs are your path to reach them.
By tracking goals, objectives, and milestones in one place, they’ll stay top of mind, you (and everyone else) will know what progress you’ve made, and your team can see the impact they’re making. By following these steps, we hope they will help you stay on course and keep your team engaged in their work so you can achieve your goals year-round.