Shared goals make the world go around

Every Organisation has its goals. As a matter of fact, every group of people, guided by some mutual interest, has its goals. With no goals, there is no progress. And with no progress, there is no growth. That is the precise reason why proper goal setting is so relevant for every single Organisation which operates, in order to make profits and justify its existence. 

Goals are the “connective tissue” of organisational culture and strategy, meaning that there is no strategy without goals and vice versa. Strategic goals describe conditions and/or changes which organisation intend to accomplish in a long run. The most common goal of every organisation is making profits, but goals have to contain all the steps necessary for their achieving. 

Besides strategic goals, there is another type of goals, equally significant: specific or operative goals. They describe short term effects and changes that an organisation strives to accomplish. The most important feature of those goals is their smartness. Well, to be more precise, they have to be: 

– Specific or precisely defined, with no fuzzy and ambiguous formulations, which imply answering the questions who, what, where, when, which and why. 

– Measurable, with defined ways of tracking and measuring accomplishment, 

– Achievable / Agreed – meaning that goals are realistic, with all participants taking part in planning and implementation, 

– Realistic / Relevant, making goals not only achievable, but important and result-oriented, 

– Time-bound or with timeframe for achieving. 

Goals on different organisational levels 

Strategic goals are the broadest goals in entire organisation. Their accomplishment is a task for everyone involved. But, there are different organisational levels with their own goals, which are quite relevant for accomplishing the major ones. 

On a team level, there are goals that are shared among team members. Those goals are often specific and project-oriented, but their accomplishment must match with strategic goals. A team should operate as a unit with its own mission, which is congruent with strategy. 

But, there is a micro level which significantly contributes to the entire goal reaching strategy – a personal level. Every team contains individuals, and those individuals are people who have their own goals. When they do not see all those operative and strategic goals as their own goals, it may bring certain cloudiness into a team, and consequently, the entire Organisation. 

On a level of the single employee, adoption of organisational goals as their own is highly desirable and useful in both directions: an employee will be more motivated to strive for a team and organisational goal, and the individuals job satisfaction will be higher. On the bonus side, the organisation will be in the hands of people who truly care about its well-being. That makes a perfect scenario. So, is that perfection attainable? 

The importance of mutual organisational and personal goals 

There are certain preconditions which ought to be fulfilled in order to effectively adjust both organisational and personal goals. Knowing them may be quite helpful in recognising potential discrepancies between those goals, and preventing those discrepancies from further developing. 

  • Motivation. Only duly motivated employees can perceive organisational goals as important as their own. Being motivated in such manner may be a matter of both extrinsic and intrinsic motivation, given the fact that both strongly impact behaviour. An extrinsically motivated person are motivated by outside influences, and may enjoy competing with others. Reaching the goal might be a reward for itself. Such a person may be an excellent driver for other participants. Intrinsic motivation is vastly influenced by seeing organisational goals as their own. Intrinsically motivated employees may have the needs to adapt those goals, because their motivation comes from the inside. If those goals are mutually incompatible, it becomes almost impossible for an intrinsically motivated person to stay on the task and to perform on best effort. Recognising the type of motivation for each employee may be a good starting point in adjusting organisational and personal goals. 
  • Responsibility. Seeing a goal as its own responsibility creates a completely different effect than seeing it as someone else’s. Scattered responsibility is a half-way solution. But, focusing each employee on a goal, with awareness about potential consequences for both organisation and each person responsible, may lead to stronger bond with organisational goals. This raises the question of motivation all over again, but responsibility may be the motivating factor for certain types of employees. What is important is that responsibility should be properly delegated within all people involved in accomplishing goals. If not, there is a risk for diffusion of responsibility, making no one feels truly responsible, which is a one-way ticket to failure. 
  • Job satisfaction. Goal adjustment is more probable when the most of other relevant factors are in a service of job satisfaction. Properly motivated, appreciated and directed employees are a necessary ingredient for making productive, positive and goal striving atmosphere in a long run. High job satisfaction not only motivates and annuls effects of stress, but also has negative correlation with absenteeism and fluctuation, behaviours which might suggest that something is not quite right with the people management. Job satisfaction is valuable not only for adjusting the goals, but for preventing things and behaviours that may spoil working atmosphere and create unnecessary distractions from reaching goals. 

Shared goal-setting is a process. It cannot be done overnight, because it requires time, patience, involvement and focus. It even can be a process that might never come to an end. An organisation is like a living creature: it needs to be conceived, born and properly nourished. Only then it may growth, develop and become fully-grown. Even then, it reacts to its surrounding and always feels the effects of internal changes. An organisation is a dynamic system that is always in motion, which sometimes makes it quite unpredictable. But, as long as it is built on solid ground, and have strong focus, caring about all participants in its growth. It have chances to survive, even harsh time. Shared goal-setting is one of the important conditions, which should be carefully performed, with keeping a focus on main strategic goals, but with taking into consideration all the people who give valuable contribution to making it better and more successful. 

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