How To Cascade and Align Goals
January 8, 2019

How to cascade and align goals

Oftentimes poor performance in an organization is a result of misaligned goals. If you fail to align your employees’ goals with enterprise objectives, you’re limiting performance both at the company and individual level.

…Are many of your company’s goals not aligned and do not contribute to anything?

Below, we explain how to cascade goals down (or align goals up) to drive better performance while also avoiding redundancies and conflicting activities.

1. Set clear organizational goals.

Begin by establishing 3-5 organizational goals you can laser focus on for a designated time frame. Base these goals on your company’s strategic plan and most important priorities right now. For best results, use the S.M.A.R.T. goal setting method for each one.

2. Align & measure goals.

Once you’ve developed company-level goals, you can begin cascading them across specific departments or units (or aligning the goals from across the organization to your top goals).

You should involve all senior leadership in the process so that there are no conflicts or misalignments. Repeat step one by having each department identify their 3-5 leading Objectives for the quarter (or other designated time frame). 

You must also determine how goals will be measured. In other words, you should identify metrics that will measure the success/completion of each objective. Workfront Goals can support this process by making it easy for all parties set goals and track their progress.

3. Repeat the process with teams & individuals.

After divisional goals have been created, it’s time to cascade them further, down to team and individual levels. In doing so, employees will gain an understanding of company priorities, develop a line of sight into how their contributions help achieve company-level goals, and see how their team directly impacts business outcomes.

4. Manage goals effectively.

This is where your role as a manager comes into play. Review goals regularly) and encourage employees to break objectives down into smaller tasks and tactics. Balance goals so that some are less challenging than others, but all are realistic.

5. Check in & revisit goals

In order for cascading goals to work effectively, you absolutely have to check in regularly (i.e., once per week) to discuss progress with employees. During these check-ins , you can revise any goals as needed, praise employees for weekly wins and other small achievements, and discuss upcoming priorities to re-clarify expectations and help them stay on track. If you’re using quarterly OKRs, aim for 10% completion each week. Again, make sure that you are evaluating goals against predetermined performance measures. Give timely, specific feedback regularly to keep employees motivated and engaged.

6. Do performance development planning to achieve bigger goals.

Quarterly OKRs keep employees focused on near-term goals, but in order to keep them motivated for the long-term, you must also incorporate development planning tactics into your performance management system. Assign some challenging goals to help employees develop new skills and abilities, and discuss development opportunities such as further education and workshops to let employees know you’re committed to their professional growth. Development is a win-win for both the company and the employee: while the individual expands their experience and skillset, you can begin assigning more ambitious goals as a result, which will help improve your company’s bottom line.


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