By Jesse Lyn Stoner
Are your team’s goals aligned with a shared vision? As Yogi Berra said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”
Taking time out to look at the big picture and where you’re going will save you time in the long run.
In our book, Full Steam Ahead! Unleash the Power of Vision, Ken Blanchard and I explain that “Vision is knowing who you are, where you’re going, and what will guide your journey.”
“Who you are” is your purpose, your reason for existence. “Where you’re going” is a picture of what it looks like when you are fulfilling your purpose. “What will guide your journey” are your values, how you proceed as you go forward.
In our book we give an example of an accounting department that thought their purpose was to collect and financial information. They were having difficulty getting the information they needed from other departments. In working on their vision, they realized that their purpose was to provide sound information to help leaders make good financial decisions, and they identified values of responsiveness, accuracy and dependability. As a result, they set very different goals, their relationships improved immeasurably and they became much more effective.
When goals are not connected to a clear purpose and values, people often work at cross-purposes with each other, not “rowing in the same direction.”
When you see a clear line of sight between your goals and where you are going, it’s easier to stay motivated. You see why they are important and it helps answer the question “What’s next” once they are achieved.
A vision that stems from your team’s values and beliefs generates a tremendous amount of excitement and commitment. Team members see themselves as part of a larger whole and they see where they fit in. Day-to-day activities have more meaning because it is clear how they make a real contribution to the team.
Leaders spend less time managing others and day-to-day crises and have more time focusing on planning and big picture issues.
And because everyone knows they each desire the same result and share the same values, they can act more independently without concern for competing self-interest, creativity flourishes ,and there is a greater level of trust.
3 Tips to Align Goals With Your Vision
- Set the right goals.
Goals are the milestones that mark your journey toward your vision. They are the means to get there as they quantify and define the steps you take along the way.
Where your vision is broad and big, goals are tangible and specific. They answer questions like “when?’ and “how?” and “how much?” SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound.
To select the right goals, always keep your vision in mind. Look for some goals that will you leapfrog forward, some that address the greatest pain, and some that provide some quick wins.
Remember, you’re going to be held accountable for achieving your goals, so choose those that are a stretch but also realistic.
- Make goal-setting an ongoing process, not an annual event.
The problem with annual goal-setting is it doesn’t work. You can’t plan an entire year and know in advance all the goals you will need to achieve.
As you proceed, things will happen that make some of your goals irrelevant. Things will happen that require setting some new goals. Some goals will take less time than you anticipated to accomplish, and others will take longer.
SMART goals are measurable and trackable. As you track your goals, revisit your vision, to be sure they are still aligned. And as you complete a goal, set new ones in relation to your vision.
- Create “structural integrity”
Not only must goals be aligned with your vision, but to be successful, your team needs “structural integrity” – where all of the underlying systems and processes that support your team are designed to steer you in the direction you want to go.
A team might start off aligned around a shared vision, but unaligned systems and practices can quickly derail them.
Are team members dependent on each other in order to accomplish certain goals?
. . . If so, what communication processes are in place so they can effectively coordinate their efforts?
Does their vision include providing excellent customer service?
. . . If so, do customer-contact people have the authority to make key decisions regarding the customer?
Do any of the goals depend on a team effort?
. . . If so, are there provisions to evaluate and compensate team members on team performance or are they rewarded solely on the basis of their individual performance?
This article was reprinted with permission from the author.
Jesse Lyn Stoner and HRDQ-U are hosting a webinar January 25th at 2pm ET. Save your seat here!
Jesse Lyn Stoner is founder of Seapoint Center for Collaborative Leadership and coauthor with Ken Blanchard of the international bestseller Full Steam Ahead: Unleash the Power of Vision, translated into 22 languages. A business consultant and former executive, her clients include Edelman, Marriott, SAP, Stanley Black and Decker, Skanska, and Yale University, to name a few.
Named as Inc magazine’s Top 50 Leadership Expert, American Management Association’s Leader to Watch in 2015, and ConantLeadership 2016 Leadership Champion Award, she writes a popular weekly leadership blog and has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Huffington Post, and Forbes among others.