Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Steps to realign an organization around key goals and objectives and avoid the deleterious effects of a recession

I have been preaching since the beginning of the year that you need to have a well documented strategy with well thought-out supporting goals and objectives to ensure your employees are doing the right things to move your organization forward. I even wrote a blog articulating the difference between a goal and an objective. I was surprised by the number of emails I received from readers stating that they never really understood the difference between the two.

Having well documented goals and objectives are especially important now, especially if you think we're heading into a recession. Well documented goals and objectives ensure your employees are not being distracted by insignificant, trivial activities and tasks. More importantly, the documented goals and objectives ensures that your employees know exactly what you're trying to accomplish, how it be accomplished, and how success will be measured.

Many organizations make the common mistake of stating their "goals and objectives" as ambiguous written themes. Such as, "be vendor of choice", "improve employee engagement", "provide unparalleled service", and blah, blah, blah. To make matters worst, the organization then allows mangers to define how they will comply with the goal and communicate it their subordinates. Its also not uncommon for managers to rewrite the company's goals in their own terms that may or may not have the same meaning of the originally poorly written organizational goals. Consequently, as goals are cascaded through the organization the meaning and intent is lost in the various translations and rewrites.

Unfortunately and too frequently, I have seen managers write goals that directly opposed goals of another department or team. Talk about zero sum gain.

Here is what I what you to do in order to be successful even during recessionary times.

* Revisit your current goals and objectives, if they exist. Ensure they are clear and measurable. You can’t drive change using written unmeasuraable themes, however, you can drive towards a clear, well-defined measure. If each objective doesn’t have a measure, establish one, now, and its baseline.

* Make a list of all current initiatives that are underway and or planned within the organization. All initiatives, you will be surprised or more accurately disappointed by what your people are working on or think is important.

* Map every initiative to the organization’s goals and objectives. This will be difficult and frustrating because you will immediately get a sense and magnitude of how much effort and time has been squandered by your employees.

* Review each initiative to determine if it’s strategic or urgent. If the initiative is neither strategic nor urgent, consider canceling the initiative. Don't make the mistake of allowing trivial projects to continue simply because they approaching completion. Kill them now! Develop new initiatives that may have been overlooked and or urgent.

* Prioritize the new list of initiatives and determine how to resource and fund the initiative.

* Re -communicate goals, objectives, measures, and key strategic initiatives.

Good luck!
In the future, I will be blogging about other techniques to recession proof your organization.

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