When companies share goals and initiatives with their employees, Joel Trammell writes in an article for Khorus that employees are more likely to get excited and become more engaged with the company. He says there are two types of goals companies should set each quarter, initiative goals and sustaining goals. These two goal types serve different functions and Trammell provides advice for developing and using both to engage employees.
Initiative goals are aggressive and are used to move the company forward. They get employee’s attention and can involve acquiring a competitor, offering a new service, revamping an old service or expanding into new markets, for example.
Trammell writes that while initiative goals are invigorating for a company, it can be dangerous to set two many in a single quarter, as failing to complete one or two of the goals can be enough to deflate employees’ enthusiasm.
Another danger to setting initiative goals, Trammell writes, is that it can divide employees into two groups — the “cool” group and the “boring” group. If a single group of employees are always the ones getting to work on the initiative goals, then other employees may feel left out, causing the employees to resent each other. To avoid this, companies should try to bring new employees in to work on different initiative goals.
Companies also need to make sure that their initiative goals don’t distract from the company’s core operations. Trammell gives this example, “A plate spinner who lets most of his plates fall while he focuses on getting a couple more up doesn’t have an act.”
To avoid this, Trammell suggests limiting the number of initiative goals that are set in a given quarter and to always pair an initiative goal with a sustaining goal.
Sustaining goals are those that focus on the company’s core operations and are necessary to maintain or improve operations in a quarter. Trammell suggests setting about four or five of these goals each quarter.
He writes that sustaining goals should be used to highlight ongoing operations that are strategically important in the given quarter. Examples could include improving margin, seeking ways to make the company more efficient or finding ways to improve customer satisfaction.