Your employees need to be prepared and motivated for the next challenge. Organizations need the human capital infrastructure in place to give their workforce the right skills to work on the right projects in the right roles. They do this through a focus on three key talent management areas: goal alignment, skills development and talent mobility.
- Goal Alignment: Strategy execution fails in large part due to differing goal priorities. When your best people spend their valuable time doing a fantastic job on all the wrong stuff, success will be elusive. Getting everyone on the same page is a high-impact process.
- Skills Development: You want your employees to do and build great things. But are you building great employees? Great employees are built by great managers who make training and development a priority.
- Talent Mobility: Moving employees from role to role across leadership and functional areas is common practice among organizations that understand the need to quickly transform as business needs change. Talent mobility planning must strike a balance between the needs of the organization (making sure key roles have fully developed pipelines) and the employee (your best performers will leave if they do not see new challenges).
These three processes are tightly intertwined. Talent mobility planning without subsequent development is useless paper-pushing or wishful thinking. Goal alignment without talent or development planning might mean you don’t have the people equipped with the skills necessary to get the job done. Development that’s not driven by organizational or career goals is likely to go unused and be a waste of time. The outputs of these combined processes are nothing short of higher employee engagement, higher productivity and higher profitability for the organization.
“There’s something wrong here. Something seems to be out of alignment.”
When something is out of alignment – like your car, your back or a door-jam – you can feel it. And in most cases you probably seek immediate treatment because the wear and tear on things that remain out of alignment can be physically, emotionally or financially painful. The same is true for goal alignment in a company. When goals are not aligned between employees and managers or among managers, you can be sure the wear and tear on strategic organizational initiatives will be damaging.
Here’s a classic misalignment story between sales and marketing: A company is trying to attract more new customers. Although everyone in the company agrees that new customers would be a good thing, they differ on how to make that happen. Employees in the sales department want a strategy that will uncover a “qualified, ready-to-buy right now” sales lead. The marketing department too is interested in generating more leads for the sales department, but the marketing department’s managers are focused on preliminary steps such as what will attract more viewers to the company website and what will engage more of those viewers to download information from the company website or call and inquire about the services the company offers. The marketing department’s efforts will not bear fruit overnight, but in time, the department expects that the cultivation of prospects will generate higher quality sales leads with faster sales cycles.
It won’t take long before those misaligned goals and strategies start to create internal friction. You see, the sales department has a monthly quota to obtain and doesn’t appreciate the longer-term lead strategy. Time and resources spent on nurturing people who visit the company online seems like overkill to them. As a result, they might not be willing to support other communication channels that serve the marketing department’s engagement strategy. In other words, social media may seem like a waste of time to the sales department. Marketing therefore ends up working without the support of sales, which cripples the company’s efforts to lure more customers. Had the sales and marketing departments been working in sync, they would have been attracting far more customers in the short and long term.
It’s fairly common for employees and entire departments to be out of sync. If you’re trying to get a company’s employees to be aligned on its strategic goals, consider the following:
- Solicit input from all levels. In setting goals, an organization benefits from gaining the perspective of its employees; not just hearing their ideas, but giving those ideas respectful consideration. A company that solicits ideas, wherever they arise, is a company where creative achievers want to work. Why not trust the employee who’s answering a customer’s call, that he or she may know an effective way of improving customer loyalty? To be sure, not all ideas are worth putting into place. Some are unrealistic or too expensive, but some could prove to be useful.
- Consider the company’s culture. Whether a company’s goals are accomplished hinges a lot on the culture of the company. An adaptive culture will be able to make changes and grow in the desired direction. A company with a culture that’s resistant to change might pay lip service to the goal but in actuality ignore it. The culture of an organization can evolve, but it takes a lot of time and in some cases, the arrival of new staff members. In creating company goals it’s crucial to think about the dynamics of the organization. Leaders can have a lot of influence in creating a workplace culture that motivates, and that in turn, leads the company to realizing its goals.
- Make sure everyone knows how he or she can contribute. If you want employees to be focused and motivated, they need a clear understanding of how their efforts serve the company’s short- and long-term goals. Those goals should be tied into the objectives for individual performance. Employees want to love their jobs. If they feel they are contributing to a goal that is meaningful to them, the chances of them loving their job are far greater. They work hardest when they believe in what they’re working toward. If only a cadre of top managers is fully versed in and believes in the company’s goals, the rest of the staff may have little motivation to meet them. The staff may even resent what seem like edicts from the top.
- Create clear and objective benchmarks for measuring progress. If there are no concrete measures of progress, it’s tough to inspire employees to meet the company’s goals. If the goal is to improve customer service, for example, the company needs some specific measures of whether customers are more satisfied. Sales are one measure but another might be how long customers are put on hold or how many times they’re transferred.
Whatever goals an organization sets, they need to arise from the company’s core values, and those values should be well defined and promoted throughout the organization. So if a company values integrity, ambition, or respect, the goals they establish need to be in sync with those ideals. The core values in a company aren’t simply the promises written on the company website or posted on employee cork boards, they’re the qualities modeled day to day in interactions between managers and employees and between employees and customers. An organization’s leaders can have a lot of influence in creating a workplace culture that motivates, and that in turn, leads the company to realizing its goals.