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Performance Management Performance Management Cycle

Organizational Goals Can Be Powerful Energizers

Clear organizational goals can drive employee efforts throughout the organization. But if employees do not know what the organization's goals are, those goals lose the ability they have to energize employees towards their achievement. Communicating organizational goals to employees is essential for achieving those desired outcomes.

Energizing Goals

In their strategic plans, agencies outline goals and outcomes they expect to achieve. Examples of some of those goals are:

  • We strive for clean air, and clean and safe water ( Environmental Protection Agency);
  • Reduce the rate of highway-related fatalities and injuries (Federal Highway Administration, Department of Transportation (DOT));
  • Restore the capability of disabled veterans to the greatest extent possible and improve their quality of life and that of their families (Department of Veterans Affairs);
  • Improve the safety of the national and international aviation system (Federal Aviation Administration, DOT);
  • Restore and maintain the health of the land (Bureau of Land Management, Department of Interior); and
  • Provide significantly improved short-term warning and forecast products and services that enhance public safety and the economic productivity of the Nation (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Commerce).

Goals such as these can inspire employee performance. Many Federal employees choose public service, not for the pay or glamour of the job, but for the missions and ideals for which their agencies stand. For example, many National Aeronautics and Space Administration employees work there because they believe in space exploration; many research scientists at numerous research laboratories throughout Government believe in the good effects their research can have; and many who work at customer service agencies believe in helping the people they serve. By communicating clear organizational goals, the organization is confirming some of the reasons the employees work there in the first place. Clearly communicated organizational goals, in and of themselves, can help engage employees in their work.

Communicating Goals

Most agencies publish their strategic and annual performance plans in hard copy and several ensure that each employee receives one. Most agencies' goals and objectives also appear on their web sites. Formal publications and web sites should be only one way of communicating organizational goals. The most effective way of communicating these goals is through direct communication between first-line supervisors and their employees. While developing employee performance plans, supervisors and employees can discuss how employee efforts support organizational goal achievement. By aligning employee performance plans with organizational goals, and by discussing organizational as well as employee goals, supervisors maximize the powerful effect organizational goals can have on employee performance. Organizational goals become real to the employee.

Example

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has reengineered itself. In doing so, it revised its mission and strategic goals. Now, FEMA's strategic plan includes objective performance measures that emphasize results rather than activities. (For example, one of FEMA's goals is to reduce by 20% the time taken to provide individuals with disaster housing assistance, which results in improved customer satisfaction.) To communicate its goals, the agency uses a strategy that has made significant improvements in its communication with Congress, State and local officials, disaster victims, the news media, and particularly with its own employees. FEMA also has reorganized its structure so that sub-units and individual employees derive their responsibilities from its mission, and employees have decision-making authority that matches their responsibilities. FEMA reports that its mission, measures, and recent track record contribute heavily to its employees' intrinsic motivation.

The upshot for supervisors is that they can energize their employees' performance by communicating their agencies' goals.

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