How Dynamic Company Goals Can Help Grow Your Business, Maximize Resources, and Empower Employees
“Work smarter, not harder” is a common refrain parroted throughout organizations today. The oft-repeated phrase has become so ubiquitous that it may be one of the most irritating cliches in the workplace. It seems employees and managers are constantly being asked to do more with fewer resources.
Keep in mind that resource allocation challenges existed well before the pandemic arrived in March 2020 and upset life as we knew it. Today’s workplace — in its many forms — has become more chaotic, with teams telling managers they need more resources and managers lacking the budgets to provide them.
What’s a manager to do? It’s simple: focus on dynamic company goals.
When an organization invests in creating and distributing dynamic company objectives, leaders are better able to make the most of existing resources and create a more positive work environment. Your organization can take a number of steps to establish a dynamic objectives system.
Take a Deep Breath and Take Stock
Congratulations! If you’re a higher-ed administrator or marketer reading this post, you’ve navigated the challenges posed by the pandemic. However, everything from your own daily work environment to how students interact with your institution and the ways professors deliver lectures has been upended and transformed. The result is a distributed work environment that requires a ton of effort from your resource planning, forecasting, and budgeting teams that wasn’t anticipated or planned for.
Add in inflation, which is increasing costs and stressing budgets, and supply chain disruptions and your reward for making it through the pandemic may seem like a pyrrhic victory.
Bring Order to Chaos With Company Goals and Objectives
Employees and management are exhausted. Research from Microsoft that tracked MS Teams users found their average workday has expanded by 13% — about one hour per day — since March 2020. And average after-hours work has increased by twice as much, according to a recent article in The Atlantic.
Newcomers to the distributed workforce also are struggling to adjust to the massive amount of synchronous and asynchronous communication — and variety of digital communication tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Dropbox, and Asana — now needed to keep everyone in touch and aligned.
What can be done to impose order on chaos and bring down the level of stress in the workplace? Focus on focus itself. Clear communication of well-defined company goals and objectives throughout an organization creates an anchor point around which management and staff can meet and move forward with focus and confidence.
When Resources Are Finite, Focus on Focus
Managers love sports analogies because sports and business have much in common: teamwork, rules, and competition. But sports analogies mask important distinctions between the two fields — specifically, clear rules on how to win.
In athletic competitions, the goal (winning) and how to achieve it (by scoring the most points) are straightforward, with clear rules to follow. In business, however, goals and rules aren’t nearly as clearly defined; furthermore, they’re open to misinterpretation. And without clear rules, chaos can ensue.
A popular default solution for restoring order often is to add resources. But simply throwing more money and people at a problem doesn’t guarantee success, and it may create inefficiency and waste. A better approach is to ask yourself a few questions: How focused are your existing resources? Has management set clear priorities? Do employees’ workdays have a lot of noise (aka context switching)?
Creating focus, not more expenses, can be a winning strategy. How can organizations restore order by merely focusing on focus?
Establish Rules for How to Win
While this may seem like a no-brainer, the traditional static, annual goal-setting process many organizations engage in unfortunately falls short in the new distributed environment. Why?
- Goals can become obsolete only weeks or months after they’re set.
- Obsolete goals create animosity or anxiety for staff still tasked to execute them.
- Goals may not be widely shared, leaving the rest of the organization confused and wondering how their day-to-day work is connected to the institution’s mission or vision.
- Unanticipated external factors can change the organization’s trajectory.
Explore the Benefits of Dynamic, Transparent Company Objectives
Dynamic goals — goals that are flexible and readily changed when necessary — require more effort and attention from leadership. Moreover, practicing transparency requires leaders to expose themselves to continuous oversight and criticism and to absorb feedback and respond to it in a positive, non-defensive way. Establishing dynamic and transparent objectives ultimately requires a culture of flexibility and willingness to fail.
Dynamic company goals and objectives need to be:
- Visible to everyone in the organization
- Adjusted in real time or, at the very least, quarterly
- Tracked asynchronously with progress toward them visible throughout the organization
- Part of a “fail, but fail FAST!” organizational culture
Keep Employees Happy and Motivated Using Dynamic Goals
Employees are an organization’s most important resource. While setting and frequently adjusting dynamic goals requires plenty of work, the payoff can be happier employees and teams. Steps for creating a happier workforce include:
Making Space for Flexibility
- Accept that things change
- Commit to transparent conversations around change
- Acknowledge that change can be difficult but is made easier if employees are kept in the loop as to why it’s happening
Giving Your People Purpose
- Explain how an individual’s work impacts the organization’s mission
- Value individual accomplishments
- Work to improve employee satisfaction and retention
- Foster employee development and increase their visibility
Empowering Employees to Make Better Decisions
- Display confidence in your team’s strategic ability
- Empower individual and team decision-making within the larger context of “how to win”
- Give praise and affirmation for good decisions
Get Started Setting Dynamic, Transparent Company Objectives
It’s never too late to set dynamic goals because, by definition, dynamic goals aren’t tied to the calendar year. You get to decide what cadence works best for your team and organization. Once goals have been established, publish them where everyone in the organization can see them — and see them often. An intranet site, widely distributed Word document, or email blast will do. You can also publish them in your company’s work management software system. Whatever you choose, make sure it’s accessible to everyone and referenced often for reinforcement.
Frequent updating of published goals is a must! Make sure there’s an easy way for individuals to provide updates on goals asynchronously. You’ll also want to make sure previous versions can be referenced or contained in a thread with the overarching goal. Organizations should encourage employees and teams to speak out when a project or initiative isn’t going well. While admitting to failure is tough, the more you normalize it, the easier it becomes to acknowledge so you can adjust and move past it.
It’s a good practice to limit each department or business area to just two or three key objectives or areas of focus so employees can stay focused on them. Lastly, you’ll want to establish a cadence for leadership to evaluate and adjust goals as needed. And be sure to communicate any adjustments to the entire organization.
Get Focused on Success
Higher education has been through a lot, and the challenges facing colleges and universities today are complex and far from over. At Archer Education, we partner with dozens of institutions to help them overcome enrollment challenges and navigate the current evolution of higher education through tech-enabled, personalized enrollment marketing and management solutions. To learn more about Archer’s full-funnel engagement strategies and digital student experience technology, click here to request information.