Cascading Goals

Manager cascading goals for their organization

How to align and cascade goals

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

1. Set clear organizational goals

Begin by establishing 3-5 business 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 SMART goal setting method for each one.

2. Align and measure goals

Once you’ve developed company-level goals, you can begin cascading goals 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. Tools like Workfront Align can support this process by making it easy for all parties to set goals and track goal progress.


How to Track OKRs: Learn more about OKR tracking


3. Repeat the process with teams and individuals

After divisional goals have been created, it’s time to cascade goals 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 and 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.

See Workfront in action

In this interactive tour, you will get hands-on experience using Workfront. You will learn how Workfront enables the enterprise to:

  • Connect strategy to delivery
  • Iteratively plan and prioritize work
  • Collaborate across teams and divisions to get work done
  • Streamline and optimize processes
  • Measure and report on progress
  • Deliver against your strategy