It’s no secret that budgeting and setting goals play vital roles in designing short term plans which support long‐term strategic objectives. Businesses that operate on a calendar year typically spend the last quarter of the year to budget and set goals for the next calendar year.Since the activity of goal planning often happens once a year, it is very easy for business managers to often get caught in the rituals of using business and predictive analytics, in addition to using their judgment and discretion, to make adjustments to recommended goals based upon past performance. However, let’s be honest; how much time do business managers really spend to review whether or not past performance metrics have achieved strategic objectives?
While most business managers frequently conduct strategy sessions to review strategic objectives prior to their budgeting and goal planning seasons –which enable them to assess if directionally they are on track towards meeting their strategic objectives or need to change some of their tactics to better align the goals with the strategy—some business managers, however, may downplay the importance of frequent strategy review sessions and only use strategic assessments at the wrong times—often during business crises.
It should not take a crisis to assess your business strategy! Peter Drucker said it best in this quote:
“Tomorrow always arrives. It is always different. And even the mightiest company is in trouble if it has not worked on the future. Being surprised by what happens is a risk that even the largest and richest company cannot afford, and even the smallest business need not run.”
Rudin’s Law could not say it more clearly, “When a crisis forces choosing amongst alternatives, most people will choose the worst possible one.”
For most organizations and business managers, who spend time as a valuable resource to review and assess their strategic objectives, spend the majority of their time on goal alignment.
What is goal alignment?
Goal alignment links organizational goals with the employee’s personal goals and requires an all‐hands‐ on‐deck approach, where everyone from high‐ranking executives to middle managers and all employee groups to understand the goals, pull in the same direction and work together to achieve them.
Here are some ways you can assess if your organizational goals are aligned
- If you are a global or national executive, with a direct team of leaders with three or more levels of extended leaders, never plan a country, region, state, territory, district or store visit with your direct team members. Always plan these visits alone or with your lowest line of extended leaders. In other words, if your span of control is across three countries or more, for example, avoid taking the executive who runs an entire country to tag along on your visits. Take the district managers along in your district travels. I am sure most executives want their time to be spent effectively and not attend a traveling circus, where employees will be on their best behavior and tight lipped, because they are in the company of the man or woman with the most authority in country, region or state during your visit.
- This will give you an opportunity to interact a little more closely with the people who run field districts, where goals are tactically and operationally executed These district managers do your bidding on a day‐ to‐day basis and you will better appreciate their challenges. If they have concerns, you will hear them! Trust me, you will hear concerns expressed diplomatically, of course!
- “If you want to share feedback with your direct‐line executive, never put a district manager in a position to identify the source of feedback obtained in the field. Incorporate these feedback during your next business review session with the direct‐line leader, a month or two later, as your own concern—diplomatically, of course!
- By traveling with your district managers, you will also understand if important strategic objectives—famously called, “the must‐win battles”—are being executed in the field and how?
- Ask your traveling district managers what are the growth targets for the company, state, region, territory and district? If they don’t know the answers or fumble, you will know that the message sent is not the message received; suggest that people are not pulling in the same direction. If they do not know the basic growth targets cascaded from top down, they cannot drive the message, let alone properly execute in the field!
- Do some unannounced visits every now and then, to see how many employees would recognize you and how you are treated by those who do not know who you are.
- If your organization measures its overall customer experience as part of its annual goal metrics, ask the lowest‐level employee to tell you what is the customer experience targeted goal for this year? It should be an eye opener if two or more lower‐level field employees, who touch customers on a daily basis, cannot answer without blinking the targeted customer experience goal for a company that values managing customer experience.
- One more thing, if you are visiting stores in urban settings, like NYC, Chicago, Boston , please take a taxi or ask your driver to drop you off 500 feet from the visiting stores and walk towards the stores; as a chauffeured automobile with a driver reverently opening the door are red flags that a senior‐level executive might be in town visiting.
If you are interested in assessing whether your strategic objectives are aligned with your business unit goals, I would like to have a conversation with you.
About the author: Lynda Chervil is an entrepreneur, author, environmental sustainability advocate and active promoter of sustainable brands and luxury brands with sustainable practices. She is the principal of Pearl Strategic Consulting, a business strategy consulting practice. She graduated from New York University with a Master’s of Science in Integrated Marketing Communications and had held many roles in new business development, sales management and executive leadership.