Alignment is not the goal, it’s a tactic

lineupOnce again, I think we can get confused as to what we are trying to accomplish with a Talent Management strategy.    Goal Alignment, by itself, is not something I care about as an individual

It doesn’t automatically make me more engaged and it doesn’t necessarily make me more productive.  All to often I hear HR departments (and Talent Vendors) talk about Goal Alignment as if it is a solution, it’s not.  It’s a tactic that can help you achieve a business solution.  Assuming, of course, you don’t suck.

As an individual, I don’t care about Goal Alignment.  I do care about a few things that goal alignment can help me accomplish though:

  • I care about my compensation — If you are going to compensate me for achieving certain goals, I care.   If you are going to penalize my compensation for something I cannot control, I care.    Showing me how my compensation is impacted by corporate goals gets my attention.


  • I care about achieving, especially achieving things that get me noticed (in a good way, not a Dilbert way).  Having my boss communicate those goals that are important to him (and thus need to be important to me) helps me make sure I am achieving the right things.

  • I care about understanding the big picture.  Having a good sense of the why of what I’m doing and how what I’m doing fits into that big picture.  Understanding the commander’s intent is very helpful to me.  When corporate goals give me that big picture I care.


  • I learn from good examples.  If my boss has shown me how his work is aligning with the company goals and how his personal goals are helping him better impact the company goals this makes a  concrete impression for me.

So please, can we quit talking about goal alignment as a solution and begin talking more about it as a very useful tactic.   Goal alignment is not going to fix your talent problems. 

Having a solid and clear vision of where your company needs to go and how your people fit into that strategy is what Talent Management is all about.    Until you have that worked out, goal alignment is not going to help. 

Understanding how individuals work and what they need must be part of the plan, or you will just be rolling out an administrative process that individuals will work around.   We need to be able to articulate what is in it for me with goal alignment, or we will fail.

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