Autonomy and Agility: The Power of Setting Goals

Alex Raymond, CEO, Kapta

Autonomy and Agility: The Power of Setting Goals

It’s time to change the way we set goals. We all create them for our companies and ourselves, hoping to reach them. Roadmap may be an overused word these days, but that’s exactly what goals are - lamps on the path to success. A company without them is a company that stagnates. So given how important they are, why is goal setting such a dry and obligatory exercise at many companies?

I’ll tell you why: because of two mistakes leaders make over and over again.

The first is turning goals into a strictly practical exercise: making it all about numbers, metrics and day-to-day tasks. Does that sound inspiring? Of course not. Even worse, goals are often seen as so mundane they get managed by HR. This is a huge mistake. Goals are like gunpowder; they should ignite workforce enthusiasm and empower CEOs to lead the charge into battle. This requires a leader’s expert communication skills – not an HR process that gets communicated in a company email.

The second mistake goes in the opposite direction: the CEO micro-manages the goal-setting process. These CEOs will not only set the company goals, but also try to write goals for all of their staff and even employees several levels down. Let’s be honest; as CEO, you may do a masterful job but often you won’t be aware of the daily reality of employee duties – making those goals unattainable or counterproductive.

CEO as Visionary

As CEO, your first step is creating company goals that connect to both customer needs and workforce motivation. This is the age of agility, after all, and smart businesses build their strategies on a foundation of customer data. The principle here is simple: Any company that wants to succeed must align its goals with its customers’ goals. We’ve all observed businesses become disconnected from their buyers, and it’s a fast track to failure. By minimizing the distance between you and the customer, you can ensure the company goals will act as a catalyst for market success.

Also important are internal goals. How will you create a great workplace or empower your employees? We all know that engaged employees are a company’s best asset. If you can turn engaged into passionate, the company will be unstoppable – and that’s exactly what setting the right internal goals will do.

Be sure to include some big-picture goals in your plans. Operational goals are important because they’ll guide practical strategies. But it’s the visionary, long-term goals that will get your employees excited. Go ahead and be audacious. Think in terms of moving the needle. That’s part of the fun of being CEO – having the power to create change on a massive scale and possibly advance the industry.

Now let’s take a look at your employees’ goals.

Momentum and Morale

As I said above, trying to exert too much control over workforce goals is never a good idea. Not only will you probably come up with misguided ideas, but you’ll miss a rich opportunity to boost employee morale. Here’s the real secret of setting goals; when you let employees select how they’ll contribute to the overall company objectives, they’ll know their skills are respected – and they’ll understand how their performance enhances company success. People feel the most enthusiastic when they have a clear purpose.

That makes it your job as CEO to draw the connection between your employees’ jobs and customer satisfaction. Remember, the goals you set above are aligned with what your customers are trying to achieve. To foster investment and alignment with the company goals, help your employees understand their role in your customers’ success.

Be aware that goals don’t end at the creation stage. It’s vital to track progress to keep everyone enthusiastic – and just as important to have an agile revision process. Let’s face it, sometimes goals don’t stand up over time. Any business that listens to the market can find it expedient to shift directions. Create a goal management process that spells out achievements, statuses and warning signs, and make sure everyone feels heard. Don’t expect everyone to reach their goals smoothly; the worthiest goals involve a learning curve.

The irony in setting goals is that by giving employees more autonomy, you as CEO will ultimately exert more control over company performance. When the organization moves as a cohesive and committed team, you’ll enjoy the benefits of an agile and passionate workforce – and more power in achieving your goals.

About the Author

Alex Raymond, CEO and Founder of the goal management platform Kapta, is an expert on how goals can make or break a company. As an internationally focused and successful entrepreneur, Alex has launched multiple companies and worked across the globe. A recent Techstars graduate, Kapta is growing steadily through purposeful goal setting.