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Three Steps For Developing Departmental Goals From Company Goals

Posted by John Boudreau on Dec 21, 2017 12:38:10 PM

Company goals are ineffective when those goals remain trapped in the minds of leadership - even worse when they stay trapped in the mind of one person.

When this happens, the rest of the team is left to guess what the most important priorities are based on very little information.

In order to operationalize a company’s goals, those goals must cascad down throughout the organization. They must be translated into the monthly, weekly and daily actions of the team members.

Makes sense right, but exactly how do you do that?

This blog post is meant to offer a step by step process for cascading company goals down to departmental goals, then further down to individual goals.

Step 1 - Start With 100% Clarity Around A Company Goal

Cascading goals throughout the organization will not work if there is no clarity at the top. If you're not 100% sure that clarity exists, check out this blog post for a step by step process to define and clarify your company goals

We’ll assume that the clarity exists and that you’ve defined the top level company goals.

For example, let’s take the following company goal:

“ John, VP of Sales will Increase top line revenue to $12M by 12/31/18"

You can see that this goal is SMART.

  • Specific - It is specific with a clearly defined objective
  • Measurable - We attach a KPI (key performance indicator) to the goal so we know when it’s been achieved, in this case “revenue”
  • Attainable / Assignable - John, Vp of Sales is responsible for achieving this goal
  • Relevant - Is this aligned with our overall strategy? The answer to this question is not easily answerable from the goal, but it’s an important question to ask.
  • Time Bound - It’s due by 12/31/18

The main point being, there cannot be any ambiguity around the company goal. If there is, the team will fail to execute. So, take your time and get this part right.

If you need help developing your company goals in the first place, we've created a simple guide which you can access below:

Dowload Our Free Company Goal Setting Guide

Step 2 - Break Each Company Goal Into Departmental Goals Or Initiatives

The next step is determine what needs to happen in order achieve this top level goal.

Typically these company goals are segmented by department (i.e. sales, marketing, production, finance etc). The owner of each company goal often leads a department or main function of the business.

Taking our example from earlier, the department in this case is “Sales”.

The sales department needs to now determine its goals which are going to drive achievement of the company goal of $12M in revenue.

My suggestion is to meet as a team and brainstorm a number of milestones (I call them initiatives), which if achieved, would help guarantee achievement of the company goal. Meeting as a team ensures buy-in and give you the best chance of winning.

To test the alignment with the company goal, ask the question, “how specifically does this help us achieve our goal”?

Once you’ve developed a list of initaitives, prioritize them in terms of impact on the company goal.

For example:

Departmental Goals.jpg

You can see this process forces the team to develop a plan which is transparent and can be vetted by other members of the team.

Finally, ask the question, “how confident are we that these departmental goals / initiatives will help us achieve the company goal”? If you find that your confidence is low, go back to the drawing board and develop a stronger plan.

Step 3 - Break Each Departmental Goal / Initiatives Into Individual Goals / Initiatives

Now that you’ve broken the company goal into the main milestones (departmental initiatives) that are necessary to achieve the company goal, each of those department initiatives need to be further broken down into individual initiatives or goals.

Take the exact same approach as you did with the departmental goals. Challenge the each member of the team to pick a departmental goal to align their individual goal with.

Let’s pick the goal - “Increase pipeline to $9M by 03/31/18”

Bob Jones, who is one of the AEs may only have percentage of that goal to achieve. In this example, it's $1.8M.

Bob could then break his goal down into weekly activities which will help him achieve his goal. His goals might be:

individual goal.jpg

As you can see it can take some thinking and brainstorming in order to truly operationalize each company goal.

In the process you may find that your company goal isn’t as realistic as you thought. You want the people actually doing the work to be 100% bought-in and engaged during the goal setting process or the company goals are doomed to fail.

I hope this post has helped connect the dots for you on how to translate a company goal to a departmental goal, and then finally to an individual goal.

Topics: departmental goals, company goals, individual goals