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Winning the race – Objectives management in practice

Published by Kathy Harvey

Objectives triangleElite sports men and women are a source of inspiration for many of us on a personal and professional level. At OrgVue we believe in many of the techniques they use in order to stay highly motivated, engaged, focused as individuals and as part of a team. Last week I set out OrgVue’s philosophies surrounding objectives management (view the blog). This week I want to focus on how to put this into practice, using the example of the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club (CUWBC) (to be clear we are not a current sponsor of theirs). Bringing together a number of previous blogs on objectives I will demonstrate our process from start to finish of how to set ambitious strategic goals and see them through with clear SMART objectives.

Set an overall Strategic Goal

For the CUWBC this is easy; Win the Boat Race. This can be harder to set as an organisation because of the range of possible strategic goals, which can dictate the shape of the future. However this needs to be brought to a simple single aim or statement at the top level and has to set the direction that the organisation is going in.

Cascade your objectives with an accountability matrix

CUWBC Training

CUWBC Training

Simply setting out the overall ambition gives no direction to follow in terms of how to get there and therefore it needs to be broken down. CUWBC cascade their goals down into objectives which will directly feed into that goal. In our words you have to focus on specific inputs rather than the overall output. In OrgVue you can cascade objectives using an accountability matrix to align objectives to people at each level of the organisation ensuring each manager knows what objectives they are responsible for. (See my blogs on an accountability matrix and cascading objectives) For CUWBC this involves personalising each objective to the individual to make it applicable to each rower. Often this happens with the aid of the coach. This is exactly the same process which managers should be going through in organisations. Assigning and specifying objectives for each employee should be a conversation, not just imposed from on high. This conversation not only engages employees but allows them to see how their objectives can help them achieve personal goals. Having gone through this process the beauty of OrgVue is that employees can then see how their objectives relate to the bigger picture, (how much they see can be controlled by managers if a company-wide scope is not necessary). This creates a transparent workplace in which each person knows exactly how they are adding value to the organisation as a whole.

Track and update objectives both on an individual and team level

The CUWBC rowers and coach track race times, fitness levels, strength and weight to create feedback loops and ensure improvement over time. In OrgVue tracking is easy; through simple webforms, each employee can update their progress on a regular basis. These inputs are tracked over time in relation to their overall objective and will flag up someone’s progress such as when they might be falling behind or doing exceptionally well. Objectives cease to be a one-off target but an ongoing conversation between the employee, manager, and the objective itself. This creates buy-in so that employees are fully invested in moving forward in the same direction as the organisation.

Sample Objectives Webform in OrgVue

Sample Objectives Webform in OrgVue

Being able to drill down lets you see where things are going right or wrong

For CUWBC it is essential to understand where the issues are, given the need to fine-tune exactly the right aspects of their performance to win the race. Overall performance may seem to be on track, but it is critical to know where issues are starting to emerge and, equally, where ‘positive deviations’ are occurring. The same is true for organisations and here is where OrgVue really comes into its own. Objectives can be tracked right through the organisation from top level all the way down to individual employees. For example if a top level objective is red (This is a simple colour code system; blue = ahead of target, green = on target, orange = off target slightly, red = seriously off target) then using OrgVue you can drill down the objectives further and further until you see the root cause of the problem. Likewise if an area is doing particularly well, OrgVue helps to bring that to the surface to congratulate and reward high performers. Whichever one, OrgVue facilitates a conversation with the relevant department, manager, or employee to understand progress and how the organisation can be kept on track.

Boat Race objectives 1

The graphic above shows what a rowing club’s objectives would look like in OrgVue. Drilling down enables the coach to gain instant insight into how each rower is performing in each area, and whether the team is on track as a whole. Imagine being able to capture your organisation’s progress in each department down to every individual employee if necessary at a click of a button. And that is just for starters…

Objective tracking

Reports like this one show how objectives change over time in an organisational context. This lets you track a specific objective over time to find out how it is progressing in comparison with its past performance.

OrgVue takes the complexity out of objectives management. The result is a long term and sustainable solution to objectives management making it much easier to focus on and achieve those long sought after strategic goals. The process is easy:

Objectives process

Thanks to CUWBC for their input and we wish them the best of luck in the women’s boat race on March 30th. We will be following with interest.