Spotlight: Create a ‘Line of Sight’ through Goal Alignment

It is that time of year again in our Performance Management cycle when staff and their managers are meeting to discuss the new fiscal year goals and expectations. Setting goals that align with your department’s and Yale’s priorities is one of the best ways to maximize your own performance and get the new fiscal year off to a great start!

Studies have shown that committing to a goal can help improve performance; and more specifically, research reveals that setting challenging and specific goals can further enhance your engagement in attaining those goals.

When you feel like you are making a meaningful contribution, you have a greater sense of purpose in your role, and you are more likely to perform at a higher level.  Likewise, when you have a clear understanding of how you contribute to Yale’s success, you are exponentially  more engaged and passionate about your work.

Getting serious about how to effectively set and align goals is more than just a soft skill or a practice to make people feel better; it is an investment. Everyone needs to work smarter and act cohesively to achieve results.  To do this, it is important for you and your manager to create a “line of sight” through goal alignment so you can see how what you do contributes to Yale’s mission and priorities.

What is Goal Alignment?
Goal alignment is a strategy to maximize an organization’s performance. Goals set at an individual and/or team level contribute to and connect with the organization’s overall mission.

Why is it so Important?
First, it is important for people, at all levels of an organization, to contribute to the achievement of the same set of goals – goals that are important to the success of the entire organization.

Second, it is important for everyone to understand how their own individual contributions (job responsibilities) contribute to the attainment of organizational goals. Alignment helps keep everyone on track and moving in the same direction.

Think of an orchestra where everyone plays a different instrument (their job responsibility); everyone in that orchestra is reading from the same music sheet to create a beautiful sound together. If everyone in the orchestra decided to go in a different direction, the outcome would not be the same, and there would most likely be confusion and frustration.

It’s important to feel a sense of connectedness around common goals. When a team unites around a problem or an idea, they have greater buy-in to the process, and it gives all members of the team a sense of belonging. Synergy and passion are created when everyone moves towards a common purpose together.

How Do We Create Goal Alignment?
Here are four ways to create goal alignment:

  • First, understand Yale’s mission:
    Yale is committed to improving the world today and for future generations through outstanding research and scholarship, education, preservation, and practice. Yale educates aspiring leaders worldwide who serve all sectors of society. We carry out this mission through the free exchange of ideas in an ethical, interdependent, and diverse community of faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
  • Next, know your departmental/unit/team goals.  
    We are all motivated by purpose, so having managers share their departmental/unit/team goals and then explain how they contribute to Yale’s mission is an important step in the process.
  • Then collaborate with your manager on individual goals.
    You know your job responsibilities better than anyone, so ask your manager to collaborate with you on setting specific, challenging, and attainable goals. Can you see how they connect to your department and to Yale’s mission?  Are they a stretch for you? Do they inspire commitment and a sense of ownership?
  • Goals are not crock pots
    You can’t just set them and forget about them.  Goals, like our favorite recipes, take time to develop.  Because of this, managers and employees should make a point to discuss, examine, and adjust goals year-round. Getting regular feedback from your manager also creates a greater sense of trust, so it is important that you and your manager have regular check-in conversations around your goals.  

Creating, communicating, and aligning goals across the organization is the best way to build a successful performance management process.  When employees, managers and teams feel connected to the organizations’ vision for success, they will be successful too.

Yale Mission Statement | Yale University
Yale Performance Management | It’s Your Yale
Coaching and Feedback in Performance Management | It’s Your Yale
Goal Setting and Feedback for Employees | It’s Your Yale
Aligning goals
How to align individual and team goals
Active alignment: Check your goal
Creating SMART goals