At the time of writing this, (at the beginning of March), it is likely that a large proportion of all those New Year’s resolutions we made are broken, some probably on the 2nd day of January! However, this should not surprise anyone, because exactly the same thing happened last year, the year before and the year before that. It’s a wonder that we bother at all! Believe it or not research by the University of Hertfordshire showed that 78% of people do not fulfil their resolutions – so don’t worry, it’s not just you! If we struggle so much as individuals, what hope do organisations have in meeting a far more complex set of resolutions? Think about the amount of time leadership teams spend planning, writing up priorities, setting strategies and budgets. How many of these are seen through to the end, if at all?
Why are we so flakey?
As a Leader of an organisation, I know all too well the gulf between the goals a leadership team sets and the reality, at the end of year, of actually achieving them. The result is the same discussions and the return of exactly the same goals and objectives year on year. Is it too much ambition, a lack of focus, changing priorities or the reality of the day-to-day grind getting in the way? Like all these sorts of questions, it is clearly a bit of all them.
How can we transform this culture?
I have already set out the need for organisations to define, cascade, align and allocate their objectives (see my blogs on cascading objectives, and having an accountability matrix). However, here what I want to focus on is the method and tools for tracking and managing organisational wide goals down to individual objectives. The problem is that while goals and objectives look great on the whiteboard, when implemented they become “real” and are dealt with by real people. In other words they become organic rather than static. To address this we need to have a mechanism so that this process provides real value for everyone.
In order for it to work, I believe several criteria need to be met, namely:
a) The effort and cost of maintaining the process has to be miniscule versus the value generated by there FOR all stakeholders
b) It has to help the individuals assigned the objectives achieve them
c) It has to support and improve the interactions between the Manager and the person being managed. Does it help them effectively focus on what needs to be done? Does it make it easier to escalate when help is needed?
d) It needs to bring focus and drive alignment.
The Orgvue approach
Addressing all these needs, Orgvue has introduced a new set of philosophies surrounding objectives which go beyond SMART. Yes objectives need to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound, that is a given. But they need to be more than this, not only to ensure they remain aligned with their goals, but so that the employees tasked with their completion are fully in engaged in the task at hand. To do this, objectives need to be assigned specific measures so their progress can be tracked. The key here being to facilitate the creation of feedback loops, that is, a circle of information which creates a dialogue giving a return of data from the past to inform current practices. If employees can see their progress on a regular basis they can react intuitively as to how to ensure the objectives stay on track. Similarly, if their manager can track an objective’s progress they can input at suitable moments to help the employee, provide feedback and make sure the employee is psychologically committed to the objective.
In order to codify this we have come up with four types of objective type:
By creating this framework objectives can be tracked from individual employees all the way up to the boardroom. In next week’s blog we go into how this works in Orgvue in practice.