What do we mean when we talk about agility in the goal-setting process? From the outset, it could mean many things from the latest business buzzword to a solid target driven approach. In this instance, we mean a goal-setting system that transcends uncertainty, brings stability to your teams and keeps everyone and everything on track. Thats' agile goal-setting in agile performance management.
We only have to look at the past 12 months for our most significant example of its newfound vital requirement; where we have all witnessed our people being uprooted, and processes derailed. We have never needed a goal-setting process and approach to performance management more that is flexible, adaptable as well as supporting our people and protecting our objectives from going out of sync. So what does this armour for our aims appear like in an everyday work environment? Furthermore, how do we achieve it? Let's see.
What does agile goal-setting look like for everyone?
Well, it shows differently for the people involved and the process. Let's start with, as always, the people. For them, it requires a change in thinking. It might mean a shift in perspective for some, while an entirely different approach for others. Agile implies flexibility and adaptability, being open to change and being able to meet it.
Your people need to adopt this way of being in their professional lives for this to work too. The bad news is, there will always be external factors that will rock the boat, but this broader resourceful mindset will ensure your people stay anchored regardless of the type of storm.
"Indecision sustains instability."
The same goes for you as their people leader. You have to lead with this mentality too. You have the opportunity as a manager to bring stability to your teams in times of uncertainty by making decisions and leading the way. Indecision sustains instability.
For example, a team who have been informed that they won't be back in the office until at least summer 2021 means this aspect of their lives is no longer an unknown and they can settle into their newfound working environments. Those who are still living in the space of wonder, and not knowing when or if they might be back, will find it more challenging to ground themselves in their current environment.
One way of achieving stability is through agile goal-setting as a part of agile performance management. Keeping everyone focused on their targets. Does this mean you ignore external circumstances? No, nobody wants a leader who overlooks the other impacts something might have on a team's wellbeing or ability to do their work. But you can acknowledge and adapt to them without it entirely thwarting your process.
The same goes for the kind of goal-setting and it’s process. Avoid year-long goals that are likely to go out of date or a system that doesn’t allow for a shift in priorities. Instead, break down these targets into a more manageable timeframe such as quarterly goals. This allows for a more continuous way of setting and reaching your aims as well as being more efficient in responding to change if needs be. That's what agile goal-setting looks like.
How do you achieve it?
Go digital. If you haven’t already, now is the time to do it, especially when everyone is already adapting to a more digital way of working. Paper-based processes are a thing of the past and should be left there, especially when it comes to your goal-setting and your performance management. This is the first step in bringing more agility to them both.
Making the move is not as challenging as you might think and the reasons for doing so are simple; you aren't relying on in-person handover, it's quicker, more effective, saves time, money, and it is far more environmentally friendly. And that's just for starters. Having a smoother process that is easier to oversee ensures better engagement levels, brings clarity and improves productivity - all components of better company culture.
Use the right framework. You have to use one that can move as things evolve and times change. Select one that allows dynamic and agile goal-setting. We use Objectives and Key Results for our team's goal-setting as well as in our product for our customers. OKRs are more than a metric, allowing for greater clarity in not just what the goal is, but how to achieve it. This plays a vital role in a sustained successful goal-setting as part of an agile performance management process. It's a more people-centred and supportive option.
One of the biggest reasons we use OKRs is for transparency. We can all see what each person and department is working on as we have access to the wider company OKR priorities. Having this overarching view of what we are all working towards supports us in staying aligned. OKRs also encourage setting stretch goals at an objective level that is then guided by the key results. In doing so, people tend to exceed expectations of the goal.
Get specific. What are your priorities? Individual, team and company goals all matter and need to be identified and aligned. Be precise with these. Then ask, how are you going to achieve this? Get equally as specific when it comes to the process. Look at having quarterly meetings and regular check-ins as part of an agile performance management process. These support an agile goal-setting system better than an annual review as you are consistently keeping your people connected and focused on shared outcomes.
What are the benefits?
It's fair to ask, why would you bother implementing an agile goal-setting system? This can be answered simply with the three s's; sharing, saving and stability.
1. Sharing - To share information is required but sharing at the touch of a button, is where the real return resides. For example, a digital goal-setting system allows you to share an early structure with your team to give people a heads up as to the direction the company is going.
This replaces the requirements to notify everyone via a large amount of individual or group updates. This instant access cannot be achieved in a manual environment. Instead, this allows you to move things forward and ensure no one is working on something they shouldn't be, which leads us to the next point.
2. Saving - This process saves time, money and miscommunication. These are all elements we want in our goal-setting process. It brings efficiency and effectiveness to it, meaning we save in so many ways.
3. Stability - Similar to the earlier point, you can bring stability to your teams as a leader via goal-setting. Digitising this process and making it agile, keeps people focused as well as making them feel more secure and supports everyone in overcoming uncertainty.
Businesses impacted by Covid-19 that are fortunate enough to be still operating are now looking for how to become pandemic proof. But we believe the focus should be less on this specifically, and more about being external challenge proof.
To achieve this, get a system in place that won't be rocked by any external factor, no matter how monumental it is. And bringing agility to your goal-setting is a key way to achieve this. At Frankli, we specialise in agile performance management. We live it, we get it and we’ve worked successfully with many organisations on this journey. By making their goal-setting and performance management systems more agile, we help them get results.