The Importance of Goal Setting in Employee Engagement - The Good, the Bad, and the Reality

By Nick Araco posted 03-25-2019 09:38 AM

As we sprint through the end of Q1, 2019 and we end our CFO Alliance Q1 Roundtable Series on The CFO's Talent Mandate:  Linking Talent to Value in 2019, with finance leaders gathering in San Mateo, CA, Walnut Creek, CA, and in Orange County, CA this week, it has become increasingly clear through our discussions that CFOs can increase employee engagement and performance by embracing a collaborative and communicative approach to goal-setting for the employees that they manage and lead.  However, our discussions have exposed deficiencies in employers' overall ability to engage employees with said goals.  

  • Let's start with the Good:  Almost all CFOs would agree that productivity is enhanced by setting and communicating well-defined, yet challenging goals to the teams they mangae and lead.  This is supported by a recent study by Deloitte that found that having clearly defined, written down and freely shared goals are the single largest factor impacting the creation of enterprise-wide alignment, clarity, and job satisfaction.  
  • Let's move to the Bad:  Another recent study found that less than a third of U.S. workers are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their current work and workplace.  And, of those disengaged millions, more than 1/2 would leave their current roles for a pay increase of 20% or lesss. 
  • Let's discuss the Reality:  According to John Doerr, the hard numbers and the details matter -- John, chair of Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, has authored "Measure What Matters," in which he details a management philosophy around setting and achieving audacious goals.  As he stated, hard goals drive performance more effectively than soft, easy goals, and specific, data-driven goals produce a highler level of output than vaguely worded ones.  If John is right, then CFOs from across industries, business life cycles, sizes and markets, should feel empowered.  As we have discussed during this Q1 Roundtable Series, the evolving CFO role places a renewed need for fact-based data analytics. These analytics not only give CFOs the insights to handle risk and compliance, identify financial disruptions, and gain lines of sight across finance, but also provide them with the ability to set the hard goals that will more often than not drive people and performance across the enterprise.  
An increasing nuber of CFOs are certainly embracing that by setting 'Hard Goals' for employees, an employee can either meet a key result's requirements or not; there is no grey area and no room for doubt.  Many now know that certainty breeds commitment not just to the 'Hard Goal,' but to the enterprise as a whole.