In a previous blog post, I described the importance of effective goal setting and cascading to both the strength of an organization’s command and control structure and employee retention and productivity. I also described how, as goals are cascaded down through an organization, they are typically transformed from soft impersonal goals into ones that are hard and personal and that, because of this the process is complex and goal cascading is best undertaken within a regular performance appraisal and task action planning process that involves one-on-one collaborative interaction between managers and their direct reports.
In addition to the complex nature of the transformation process that goals go through as they are cascaded, goal setting/cascading is further complicated by two issues:
(1) In the real world, not all goals will be met in the manner set down in the original goal.
(2) External factors, beyond the control of the organization, can frequently require changes to goals and these changes can cascade down through the organization.
Goal Cascading Best Practice
Through the deployment of Talent Chaser, we have discovered that, because of these frequent changes, effective goal setting has to be undertaken in the context of current performance achievements. Only by knowing how much progress has been made, in terms of the original goals, can subsequent goals be set in a meaningful manner. Measure must precede goal revisions. To be successful therefore:
(1) The organization must have effective processes in place to measure progress and
(2) Goals must be continuously updated.
It turns out that both of these requirements support the notion put forward in the previous blog post that goal cascading is best done as part of the way in which each employee is managed and developed.
In doing so, Talent Chaser’s PATAP Module provides a unique environment within which a much more powerful and effective form of goal cascading can be achieved than is possible with standalone methodologies. Talent Chaser facilitates the cascading of soft goals into hard ones by enabling the organization to use the skills/knowledge that exist at all levels in support of the process.
Additionally, when goal cascading is linked to both performance appraisal and task action planning, it turns the process into one in which not only are relationships between supervisors and their direct reports strengthened but also innovation from lower down within the organizational structure is encouraged. The result is that the organization not only learns more quickly from its mistakes but also reduces the chances of future ones. At the same time, goals are cascaded in a way that reinforces accountability at all levels. There are also two additional benefits:
(1) Employees find the process motivating
(2) Goals are better aligned to the skills/knowledge of employees
Objectivity and Goal Cascading
Through the deployment of Talent Chaser we have also learnt that the availability of hard data relating to the performance of each employee greatly increases the chances both that performance measurement will be accurate and that goal revisions will be appropriate. The Talent Chaser’s PATAP Module has been designed to facilitate this. Its unique feature-rich and context-sensitive online environment provides an ideal workspace for this task. When used in conjunction with Talent Chaser’s Data Repository technology, data relevant to the performance of each direct report can be streamed easily from other pre-existing information systems throughout the organization. Also, using the Data Repository’s central control system, additional data-capture screens can be easily set up. Data streams from these can then also be fed into the appraisal screen workspace.
Through the deployment of Behavioral Monitoring with online performance appraisal, we have been able to establish that managers need to be able to complete the process quickly yet thoroughly and, where this is not the case, the immediacy of the moment often outweighs the need to put sufficient effort into the process. Managers often rush through the process where they are pressed for time. However, where the appraisal process brings to the fingertips of the manager up-to-date hard performance data, managers find this not only helpful in terms of completing performance appraisals but also in terms of managing their direct reports. Where the methodology provides managers with an easy way to keep up-to-date on the activities of those reporting to them, most integrate the process into the way they manage.