Cascading Business Goals

Cascading business goals is about linking agency business goals and performance measures to individual employee performance targets. Cascading business goals shows employees:

  • How the organization measures success.
  • The specific value they add to the organization.
  • The specific impact of both good and poor performance on a team, program, and entire organization.

Strategies for Success

  • Develop performance plans after completing the strategic plan and budget. Create organization goals first. Follow with program goals and business unit performance targets. Complete individual performance plans last.
  • Train supervisors on how to link individual and organizational goals. Supervisors first need to understand the specifics in the strategic plan, including goals, objectives, measures, and strategies. They then need to translate the plan into specific deliverables for each employee. Encourage supervisors to talk with employees about the agency business plan and how a job’s functions and goals fit into that plan. Consider using the “so that” method:

    “Complete at least 10 inspections per month, arranging for the correction of 97% of identified hazards within 14 days...” so that “the safety program achieves at least 11,500 inspections, and corrects at least 7,300 serious hazards...” so that “Washington is ranked as one of the top five safest places to work.”

  • Leverage the Position Description (PD) Form. When drafting or updating the PD form, identify how each essential job function contributes to the organization’s core business. Then decide how each of the functions could be measured on the Performance and Development Plan (PDP). Use the measures to begin the “so that” discussion described above, and determine how agency and program goals cascade down to the individual employee.
  • Report often on program and business unit goal achievements. Use regular reporting venues (e.g., internal GMAP sessions, senior management reviews) to monitor progress toward reaching goals. Set expectations for managers to acknowledge individual contributions and to develop action plans to address performance challenges or shortfalls. Action plans should be worked into individuals’ performance targets and expectations.
  • Communicate with employees throughout the performance period. Discuss both successes and setbacks in meeting agency goals. Give credit to units and individuals that make significant contributions, and be transparent about performance challenges. Share status reports. Make sure employees understand when they are succeeding, when they aren’t, and what needs to be done to meet agency goals. Inspire feelings of accomplishment, and clarify opportunities for improvement.
  • Review employee survey results to the following statements:
    • I know how my agency measures its success.
    • I know how my work contributes to the goals of my agency.
    • I know what is expected of me at work.
    • My supervisor holds me and my co-workers accountable.
    • My performance evaluation provides me with meaningful information about my performance.

Potential Challenges

  • Workload. Tying individual performance targets to organizational goals requires considerable thought on the part of managers and supervisors. It is more than restating the mission and telling how the position’s work is linked. Training and practice are key to making cascading goals an efficient and effective process.
  • Overcoming resistance. Change is always difficult, particularly during the first year. Practice good change management techniques, including extra communication and structured feedback opportunities.
  • Unclear linkages. Some linkages are much harder to see than others. Supervisors often find it difficult to cascade organizational goals to positions involved in either business operations or administrative support. As with any other position, use the “so that’ method to drill down contributions to organizational success.
  • Moving beyond outputs. It is easy to fall back on listing activities or counting outputs. While these measures can be used to assess workload, they don’t often say much about the value of the work performed. Measuring true value requires supervisors to focus on outcomes and impacts. This will make the process of cascading agency goals easier.

Original: October 6, 2008
Last update: February 17, 2010

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