We’ve all had to sit through that all-hands meeting where leadership unveils that year’s big, overarching objectives.
After that? You hold a brief conversation with your team and give them the lowdown on the key goals ahead. You answer a few questions, and then it’s back to business as usual.
Usually, these objectives are mapped out in some fashion — a strategy doc, OKRs, KPIs, or a timeline. But written out like that, those goals don’t seem as tangible or achievable.
When you have a team so focused on the present, future goals can seem far away. As a result, the team isn’t enthusiastic or invested in achieving them.
The good news? Setting company goals and inspiring your team to get behind them isn’t as big of a hurdle as it seems. You can take steps to set achievable company goals that will inspire your team, set you up for success, and move the needle on your vision in no time.
How to create company goals
Business leaders generally have a vision of where they want their companies to go, but it’s challenging to bring the concept to life without setting company goals. Your company goals are the action steps that lead you toward that bigger vision.
When it comes to creating company goals, start by thinking about your long-term plan. Where do you want your company to go in the next year? When answering this question, focus on the long-term strategy first. You’ll later identify more targeted goals that can be achieved in a shorter time period.
When you know what you want to achieve within the next year, you can then split these achievements into quarterly actions. Breaking it down by quarter can help you make smaller accomplishments that lead you toward the finish line. Consider setting Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) like Google and use the SMART method to clarify your company goals and ensure people are aligned on your targets.
After your company goals are set, you should cascade them down to departments and individual team members.
Keep in mind that any additional goals that are set at the personal level, such as an employee’s unique professional development goal, should be able to be traced upward and connect to a larger organizational objective. This ensures that your cloud of goals is aligned from top to bottom and vice versa, allowing employees to understand where they fit into the bigger picture.
Examples of company goals and objectives
One of the best ways to clarify company goals is to see a sample. Let’s look at a couple of company goals and objectives examples that many businesses set.
- Increase profit margin: Every business needs to be profitable to survive. Increasing profit margins can occur in various ways, including increasing sales, landing new accounts, and cutting expenses. This company objective can easily be cascaded down to departments and turned into specific goals. For example, each sales team member could have the goal of landing four new accounts per month.
- Boost customer satisfaction (CSAT) ratings: Happy customers are a crucial part of a business. Customer service goals can often be tailored and set across multiple departments to help a company meet its overarching desired CSAT objectives.
- Improve operational efficiencies: Becoming more efficient and boosting productivity benefits companies and their employees. Teams could set departmental-specific goals around their daily responsibilities to help increase the efficiency of operations across the organization. For example, a finance team might set a goal to decrease the time it takes to close the books at the end of the month.
Goals can involve many areas of your business and include a range of objectives to help you achieve your company goals. Don’t forget to be as specific as possible with the goals you set to be most effective.
How to inspire employees around company goals
Here’s the truth: companies need their employees to feel aligned, inspired, and invested in the company goals. Here are eight tactics to get your team on board and ready for a goal-oriented future.
1. Ensure leadership is aligned
You can’t expect your employees to align themselves with company goals if the organization’s leaders aren’t in agreement in the first place. That’s why alignment between decision-makers is a crucial first step.
This is important for a few reasons. First, you and your fellow leaders will have clarity, which will prevent any confusion or unnecessary efforts between your teams.
Secondly, how can you expect your team to commit when you haven’t yourself? It’s hard to project commitment where none exists. “When a leader doesn’t fully believe in the goals for whatever reason, their body language will betray their words,” says Alison Henderson, Body Language Expert and CEO of Moving Image Consulting.
Your team is smart. They’ll be able to spot your false enthusiasm and, as a result, start questioning those goals themselves.
2. Involve team members during the goal-setting process
Bring your team members into the goal-setting process from the beginning. This helps them see the big picture from your vantage point.
They may not be able to sit in on those strategy sessions with you and your fellow leaders. However, you don’t need to always keep them at arm’s length.
When leadership has settled on the main objectives or OKRs, take that list to your team. Share the goals that have been outlined, and then ask this simple question: What can we do as a team to contribute to this goal?
Including your team in key conversations is crucial in improving team utilization. For example, imagine your organization has decided they want a reputation as a thought leader in the human resources space.
What are some things your team can do to push that forward? Open the floor to your team’s suggestions. From writing guest posts for reputable blogs and publications, to speaking at industry events, to hosting webinars — the list goes on and on.
This simple exercise connects a seemingly untouchable goal to the day-to-day work of your employees. Grasping the bigger picture in this manner will motivate them to perform at their best.
In fact, one Gallup study shows that employees are 3.6 times more likely to be engaged when they’re involved in the goal-setting process.
3. Use language your team understands
It’s human nature — we tend to communicate in ways that resonate with us instead of others. When motivating your team to invest in company-wide goals, you need to put yourself in their shoes.
“Leaders should motivate in the way their team needs to hear the goals, rather than doing so in a way that would convince themselves,” says Henderson, “Leaders must be in tune with their teams. What motivates them? Do they need the goal given with information, value, or process to gain buy-in?”
One surefire way to ensure team members comprehend those goals? By tying those objectives to the work and performance of each individual employee.
4. Tie company goals to individual goals
There’s one thing you know your team members are already invested in — their own performance and success as part of your team.
This is why you need to bridge the gap between company-wide objectives and individual performance goals. This step accomplishes a couple of things we’ve already touched on, including:
- Involving the employee in the goal-setting process
- Speaking and motivating in a way that’s relevant to the employee
Additionally, explaining how company goals relate to individual goals also provides the necessary context team members need to be successful (more on that later).
Your company-wide goals should be established before anything else. At that point, you can sit down with individual employees to ask how their individual work can contribute to those objectives.
“Asking the employee to establish goals they would like to accomplish that align with what the department is trying to accomplish is the best initial approach to the goal-setting event,” says Diane Derubertis in a post for The Center for Corporate and Professional Development at Kent State University.
After doing so, employees will feel ownership of those larger goals and also possess a greater understanding of what’s expected of them individually.
5. Explain the “why”
Providing the necessary context is crucial for getting buy-in from your employees. They won’t feel invested in company-wide goals if they don’t understand why they exist in the first place.
“It’s critical to explain to them how their work is connected to the bigger picture,” says Labowitz, “This means taking the time to explain the ‘why’ of what you’re asking them to do.”
You can’t just highlight the objective — you need to share the reasoning behind it. What factors led to the inception of that goal? Why does it matter? What impact will it have on your team and the organization?
“As a leader, you’ll get far better buy-in from your team when you take the time to fill in the gaps in context so they can understand how their work fits into the larger picture,” Labowitz adds, “It’s like doing a 500-piece puzzle. It’s virtually impossible to grasp the picture from a single piece. But, when you show someone the box cover, they understand the beauty of the whole and how their piece fits in.”
“It’s also a great teaching opportunity, as explaining the ‘why’ behind assignments helps the team level up their thinking to a more senior level. If you make this a habit, over time, they’ll start connecting the dots on their own.”
Need help inspiring your team members to understand their individual impact? Check out our guide to explain where and how they fit in.
6. Demonstrate enthusiasm
If you aren’t excited about those goals and milestones, you can’t expect your team to be.
“Employees need to believe and see that their leaders are truly engaged and excited about the goals that ensure the success of the organization,” says Powell, “Leaders talk about and market goals like they’re checking off a box.”
However, communicating in that way presents a goal as just another thing your team has to do can make it feel like a chore, as opposed to an exciting objective.
Demonstrate enthusiasm about those company-wide goals (as well as the impact they’ll make), and your team is far more likely to follow suit.
7. Revisit goals regularly
Too often, the goal-setting process looks like this: You explain a quarterly or annual goal to your team and then drop it like a hot potato until it’s time to see how the team measured up to expectations.
That’s disheartening and counterproductive. You need to make progress visible — not just the finish line.
“It’s easy for company-wide goals to fall into the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ bucket if they’re not revisited regularly,” says Labowitz, “If a company goal is important enough to be set, it’s important enough to be tracked and reported back to the team on a regular basis so they know how they’re performing against the target.”
Keep your team in the loop on progress. And, of course, celebrate those milestones and achievements that happen along the way! Recognizing and rewarding those will motivate your team to keep going.
How to keep track of company goals and objectives with Wrike
Speaking of the importance of monitoring progress, a collaborative work management solution like Wrike can help executives keep track of company goals and hit business objectives. Some of the reasons why leaders lean on Wrike for company goal tracking success include:
- Centralized communication and alignment across teams, ensuring transparency and accountability
- Workflow customization and flexibility to keep up with your business’ evolving goals and objectives
- Breaking down silos with increased collaboration amongst groups
Those combined with the strategies we outlined above mean you’ll see a greater understanding and a much higher commitment level from each employee on your team. Start organizing and monitoring your company goals and objectives with Wrike today.