Confession of a Cascading Goal Hater

Okay, of course I’m not really a hater… more of a dis-liker…but there aren’t t-shirts for that.

The truth is, I really don’t like cascading goals, which is very odd given I love goal alignment.

I feel an explanation might be in order.

As you all know I’m all about ownership and personal accountability in the professional world. We own our careers and we should also own the goals we set for ourselves and our teams.

Too often I see people wringing their hands about how hard it is to align to the goals that are cascaded to them. They are not sure how their group can impact “shareholder value” and they are pretty sure that a goal about shareholder value might not be anywhere near as important as a goal to get their job done well.

Cognitive dissonance ensues and instead of line of sight, organizations find themselves with lines of confusion.

This is where I think the answer lies: not in waiting, but in doing. I do not think it is the job of your boss to work this out for you, especially if you are in any kind of leadership position. I think it is your job to bridge the divide. Here is how I think you should address goal setting for yourself and your team.

First, get a plan. Figure out what is important for you and your team. Work out what you think the most important things are and jot down the ideas as notes. Organize them and prioritize them.

Then, look for the alignment opportunities. Look at how what you want to do might impact your boss. See if you can identify anything you should be doing that would better support your boss’ career. Take a moment to determine what you think her objectives might be and see how what you want your team to do might support those goals.

Now, here comes the powerful part… have a conversation.

Sit down with your boss with your notes and ideas. Discuss how you think the goals you want to work on align with what she needs to achieve. Take a moment to be sure you know her aspirations and her objectives.

The alignment comes not from the system, but from the shared purpose. Get aligned on purpose and the goal setting gets so much easier.

Quit using goal cascading as a reason to get stuck. Use it as a way to stand out. Jump in with both feet and own the process.

It will be harder. It will take longer. And you will actually achieve something as a result.

This blog was originally posted on TalentedApps.

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