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Consultant’s blog: Where art thou goals?

Opinion piece by one of Insync’s Research Project Managers

Nicholas Barnett, CEO Insync, recently published a book called ” GPS for your organisation ®. In these times of change and economic uncertainty, Nicholas provides a clear and simple framework for any organisation serious about reaching their potential.

It seems somewhat ironic that our database of over one million employee alignment survey responses across industries reveals that only 50% of staff would agree that their organisation’s long term aims have been clearly communicated to them.

Nicholas uses the analogy of a GPS (Global Position System, or in this case “Guidance and Positioning Statements”) to help companies achieve their golden goal through identifying their core purpose and aspiration with underlying values. If staff are unclear on what their organisation is trying to achieve, how can they help achieve them?

Irrespective of industry, it’s fair to say that most employees could go on their organisation’s website or intranet to unearth a copy of the organisation’s mission and values. However, most employees will continue to do their job in the way that they think it should be done, react to customer needs or simply continue in the way that “things have always be done around here.”

If employees have an understanding of their organisation’s goals and strategic direction, then understanding the relationship between the two will mean they’re more likely to agree with them and act accordingly. They will be able to modify their behaviour to work towards these goals. This is supported by relevant work of Montesino (2002) who found that of 250 pharmaceutical sales people on a training course, there was a significant positive relationship between awareness of the strategy, direction and agreement and commitment to the strategy.

Can you afford your employees to stay out of the loop?

Following a recent devastating train accident in Europe, a tribunal found that health and safety breaches were a contributory factor. Anecdotal evidence provided by staff suggested that safety communications had recently become sporadic. Despite infrastructure changes, staff continued track maintenance in an established way, often with changing teams.

What became clear was that the operator had very clear goals regarding OHS practices, but the communication of these had slipped. As found by Scholey (2007) “to make strategy meaningful, employees must be aware of the organisational strategy and appreciate the rationale for it. By communicating effectively before, during and after the implementation of the organisation’s strategy, management positions itself to have an educated and engaged workforce much more likely to support it.”

One question from Insync’s Alignment and Engagement Survey measures how well employees can refer to their list of organisation’s goals. This question is part of “Long term direction”, which is one of nine factors in our employee Alignment and Engagement survey framework. This question is linked to how well an organisation achieves its overall aims.

Our Alignment and Engagement Survey framework consists of 10 factors that including employee engagement, can contribute to high performance in organisations.

Other employee survey resources:


Montesino, M.U. (2002). Strategic alignment of training, transfer-enhancing behaviours, and training usage: A post training study.Human Resource Development Quarterly, 13(1), 89-108.

Scholey, C. (2007). Alignment – has your organization got it? CMA Management, 81(6), 16-18.

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