How to Improve Strategic Alignment Between Employee and Agency Goals

by Mike Tannian on July 19, 2022

Learn how public sector agencies can use employee goal-setting software to achieve strategic alignment and meet agency goals.

Article Highlights

Every organization should ensure its employees' goals are in strategic alignment with its business goals and vision. But too often in the public sector, this goal alignment doesn't happen. There could be a lack of communication about company goals or employees might not feel a connection between their personal goals and the organization's strategic priorities. And sometimes, the organization hasn't periodically re-evaluated these goals to make sure they still align with their strategic objectives.

The problem is that goal-setting is often a "set it and forget it" exercise in the same way that companies set their vision and mission statements. Few organizations understand the importance of strategic alignment between agency goals and employee goals – and how they work together to foster organizational success. 

To achieve agency-wide goal alignment, you need to prioritize it when setting employee performance goals. The organization needs to commit to reassessing its goal alignment every six to 12 months, providing opportunities for additional training, and purchasing new technology.

This article will look at the problems created by a lack of strategic alignment, and how NEOGOV’s employee goal-setting software, Perform, can help public sector organizations communicate performance expectations and track measurable goals.

What is Strategic Alignment?

One strategic alignment definition is how a workforce works toward the business' goals. It means aligning the organization’s business strategy with its culture to maintain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. To do this, employees need to know what goals they should be working toward and why.

Your employees' career and individual goals should align with the organizational strategy, and managers should work with individuals to develop measurable employee goals. This strategic alignment ensures everyone is "rowing in the same direction," which drives your ship forward faster. No one is working at cross-purposes, and your employee and company goals aren't in conflict.

The Problem: Lack of Strategic Alignment

Organizations that understand the importance of strategic alignment are more efficient and perform better because employees and teams have focused action plans to achieve the business objectives. Without this, your team members are likely to work on their own priorities whether they support the organization's goals or not.

By aligning employee performance with organizational goals, you can reduce siloing, improve communication, and create transparency. Teams are more likely to work together to progress your strategic plan and achieve milestones.

But without goal alignment, your agency lacks cascading goals that roll up into the overall agency strategy. A lack of goal alignment also hinders employee engagement and performance, which can lead to turnover if your employees don’t feel that their work is effective or has any meaningful impact in the community. 

Your team may also face conflict as each department and person works toward what they think are the organization's goals. Managers who can't keep their employees on track with goals often experience increased turnover because they can't guide their employees toward collective success, leaving employees feeling frustrated and undervalued.

The Solution: Employee Goal-Setting Software

So, how can senior leadership communicate the importance of strategic alignment and ensure that employees understand their vision and goals? NEOGOV’s employee goal-setting software, Perform, helps public sector organizations streamline their strategic alignment process to better analyze employee performance efforts and track results.

Effective goal management involves setting and tracking goals, which is usually part of the employee appraisal process every year. Perform's employee goal-tracking feature lets managers and employees set goals in alignment with departmental and strategic initiatives, complete with milestones and deadlines to ensure they’re taking the right steps to meet them. This performance management tool even lets you incorporate these into your employee evaluations.

Using Perform, your employees can report on their progress towards objectives, and managers can track their performance to identify bottlenecks and challenges or spot skill gaps that might require training or assistance. The system’s goal progress updates work in conjunction with milestone completion, displaying goals clearly so employees and managers can quickly determine their status.

Other key features for goal tracking in Perform include:

  • Employee Goals: Allows users to generate reports for goals and associated information. Users can enter the name of any goal they have access to and report specifically on that goal, as well as the goals aligned with it.
  • Goal Status: This feature tracks the status of goals by department. Users can decide if they want to view all results or specific by department, due date, or evaluation type. Using the goal status tool tells you when each goal should be completed and how they’re progressing.
  • Goal Status by Employee: An extension of the goal status feature, the individual employee goal-tracking tool includes links to development plans. This allows agencies to compare employee key performance indicators against other team members on dashboards, which can help identify skill gaps and time management issues.

The Benefits of Employee Goal Management Software

There are several benefits to using goal management software like Perform to harmonize your employee performance management system and strategic goal alignment process. 

1. Communicate organizational expectations

For one thing, your organization must communicate the importance of strategic alignment and how it informs your expectations. In a performance management system, your executive team can define and communicate business goals to management teams, and managers can set measurable goals for employees. 

Plus, aligning employee performance with organizational goals means you can measure everyone's progress. If the software’s goal tracker shows a department is failing to meet its team goals, you can fix the problems to stay on track with your strategic objectives.

2. Provide measurable KPIs and goals

Performance management software lets managers and employees work together to create SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) and identify SMART objectives, which are the means used to accomplish those goals. MIT also suggests that goals should be FAST. Using this approach, managers and employees should engage in frequent discussions; goals should be ambitious in scope; performance should be measured with specific metrics and milestones, and the goals should be transparent for everyone in the organization to see. 

With Perform, public sector organizations can develop both FAST and SMART goals to create a clear path forward and show employees the impact of their work.

3. Align individual performance goals with agency objectives

Employee goal-planning software enables you to align everyone with your strategic vision so you're all working toward the same end. By measuring employee engagement KPIs, you'll know if people achieve their objectives throughout the year, not just at annual performance appraisal time.

4. Engage employees in goal creation and achievement

Perform is an engagement tool that allows employees to take ownership of the goal-setting process, rather than having KPIs and goals dictated to them. And the system lets them receive frequent feedback from management teams and rate themselves on their own performance. Employees don't need to wait for management reviews to happen monthly or annually.

Furthermore, as employees track their individual goals, they can post their achievements, which can be analyzed and reported to managers for real-time feedback. Managers can reward high-achieving employees and work with employees who are not meeting expectations. This helps create performance improvement plans (PIPs) because organizational performance standards have already been set, and employees know what they need to work toward.

5. Improve employee retention

Goal-setting software’s regular feedback system can even help improve employee retention, reducing hiring and onboarding costs. With autonomy to manage their own progress through individual goal-tracking features, employees feel engaged with their work and can see the direct results of what they're doing. Plus, employees can encourage and support each other, working together to ensure they all meet their KPIs. Overall, this increases employee job satisfaction and confidence in their performance, which reduces employee turnover.

Final Thoughts

Aligning employee performance with organizational goals means everyone can work toward the same goals. In the public sector, this helps launch more programs, serve more people, and support your community. When you set strategic goals to track employee engagement KPIs and ensure they’re being met, the organization will perform more efficiently and effectively.

You can get started using employee goal management software like NEOGOV's Perform software by scheduling a free demo today.

Mike Tannian

Mike Tannian is the Director of Content Marketing at NEOGOV. With a talented team of writers by his side, he aims to produce content that delivers real value to public sector HR professionals at every stage in the buying journey.

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