How Does Your Organization Use Goals?

Bob Cryer

Bob Cryer

It is hard to find an organization that does not have a defined set of goals. However, what these goals mean to the people in an organization can vary widely depending on the unspoken intentions of the people setting the goals. As employees, it is important to know how your organization will actually use the goals it is setting. There are at least three basic options.

To meet expectations: Everyone expects an organization to have goals, so organizations create them to meet those expectations. Donors want to donate to organizations that have goals that they can enthusiastically support. Any credible manager must be able to articulate a set of goals to gain the respect of others. It is almost universally true that one of the reasons that organizations, managers and leaders have goals because everyone expects them to have them.

To motivate: Those people that choose to lead typically use goals as the basis for giving recognition, praise and appreciation to anyone that has made a contribution to the goal, making people feel good about making that contribution. They will also share stories of the great lengths that other people have gone to in order to make a significant contribution in the hopes that more people will follow their example. In addition to having goals “to meet expectations”, they are constantly working “to motivate” people to achieve those goals.

To manage: In contrast to the motivator, the manager carefully tracks the progress that each person is making towards achieving their portion of the goal, and redeploys resources and/or method to insure everyone’s success in achieving the overall goal.

An organization probably needs someone that is a motivator and manager to get extraordinary results from people that are enthused about their work. But that is unusual. More common is the organization that set goals to meet communication expectations, but doesn’t really do much more with them. In these situations, other factors like reliability, professional competence and good relationships might be more important than goal achievement.

To thrive as an employee, you need to understand what the organization plans to do with the goals that it sets.

Author:  Bob Cryer, Executive Coaches of Orange County, www.ECofOC.org