HR to CEO: About this Goal Alignment Problem, It’s Not Me… It’s You

Sean Conrad Don't Feed the Vendors, Engagement and Satisfaction, Influence, Performance, Sean Conrad

While we all know that goals and goal alignment are important – in a lot of organizations, goal management just isn’t getting executed the way it should be. I often see cases where goal management practices exist and are used to a point, but there’s a big breakdown when it comes to adoption by the executive suite.

Let’s say your company has a goal alignment process in place, but executives in your organization aren’t using it for some reason. If that’s the case, how are you as an HR pro going to pull off getting the rest of the company to use it and have it impact business results? It just isn’t going to happen. And the HR team who might have been responsible for trying to spearhead the initiative company-wide looks like they couldn’t deliver.

So, listen up C-suite – I have a message to you from HR: talent management won’t work across the board if you don’t buy in. You can’t ask HR to be strategic and make an impact if the folks in the corner offices don’t actually follow the processes. You need to actually use your goal management process and tools. By that, I mean that goals have to be well-aligned, communicated and consistently managed across the entire organization. And if you need to steer the ship in a slightly different direction to keep it on course, then this needs to be communicated so the team knows and can realign as well. Sounds simple, but it still amazes me how many times this critical issue is overlooked, and employees lose their line of sight and connection to the company’s objectives.

Ongoing goal alignment and management are valuable practices, which when done right, can help you, as the leader, ensure the organization is on track to meet its goals. Additionally, if you expect all of your managers to coach and mentor their direct reports, you need to do it, too. If your second level managers don’t see you using the goal management process to align and update progress on goals, and you aren’t having an ongoing dialogue about achieving goals, how seriously are they going to take this process?

Now that we’ve had our little heart to heart, the big question is: how do you actually get leadership to practice ongoing goal management? It’s really a chicken and egg scenario; HR needs to demonstrate the value to get executives to buy in, but without it being consistently applied and practiced by absolutely everyone, up, down and across the organization, you don’t have the data to prove your point. What’s needed is a cultural change where leadership “gets” the value and sees goal alignment and management as an integral part of the HR and corporate strategy. Like all strategies, you need time to see results, and there needs to be an understanding that there will be ongoing value for employees, managers and the organization as a whole from this process in the short and long term.

Not sold yet? Here’s some compelling evidence as to why the C-suite should take talent management and goal alignment seriously. The latest study from The Hackett Group found that companies with more mature talent management capabilities reap strong bottom line benefits, including earnings that are 18 percent higher than typical Global 1000 companies. These same talent management leaders outperformed their average counterparts across a bunch of other efficiency and effectiveness metrics. Leaders showed better ability to increase overall employee engagement, faster recruiting cycle time, and a tighter link between talent management and business strategy. So, now that we’re speaking your language — higher earnings and business strategy — this goal alignment and management process is really a no-brainer, right?

HR can definitely help make it happen, but they need your commitment. Fostering cultural change and driving high performance aren’t just warm and fuzzy goals for HR. You need to use whatever system you’ve got to start making your goal management process matter. If you’re telling HR to execute and not backing them up… then you are the reason that goal alignment isn’t working.

Editor’s NoteDon’t Feed the Vendors is a special series at FOT.  The goal of DFTV?  We get hammered by third parties who want to write at FOT, so we give them a challenge.  Write something cool and significant we can learn from/talk about in the FOT style, and you can roll with the FOT crew.  Try to sell our readership your product and/or provide a whitepaper, and we’ll openly mock your company in public for not understanding the DNA of our readership.  Many inquire, few follow through once they learn they can’t post a workup of their latest “research”.  For those who make the cut, we’ll offer up associate FOT membership as part of the Don’t Feed the Vendors stable.

Sean Conrad of Halogen Software is one of the vendors who makes the cut.  Show him some love in the comments for being up to the challenge and not writing something that should be read on PBS.