Saturday, October 23, 2010

Value/Goal Alignment - An Important Component of Employee Engagement

Some of our recent entries have introduced factors from our model of employee engagement – Appreciation, Contribution, and Commitment. The remaining factor – Alignment – relates to the need for workers to align their values and goals with the organization.

A wide range of career development literature exists which outlines the importance of connecting personal values with organizational values. The popular Wheel framework (Amundson & Poehnell) lists values as one of eight factors to consider in career decision making. As career practitioners, we are very aware of the importance of values when it comes to career “fit.” Whether through formal standardized “tests” or informal checklists and card sorts, we encourage clients to reflect on their values and ensure their work (i.e., specific job/tasks) and/or their industry or employer of choice will share those values. Or, at least, not impede on those values to any great degree.

Alignment of personal and organizational goals is just as important. As individual workers, we set goals for our careers – from wage increases or promotions to achievement of educational goals or industry certifications. Do we ever consider, however, whether those goals make sense when aligned to what our organization is hoping to accomplish? For organizations, this notion of alignment is often called goal cascading – goals are cascaded down from leadership to management to department, to work teams or units. From an employee engagement perspective, however, it’s important to take one more step – checking in with individual employees to ensure that they each understand how their jobs align with organizational goals.

Consider your organization’s future goals, vision, or strategic direction. Is there alignment with your personal and professional goals? If not, explore any disconnect. While you may be able to influence your organizations’ goals, if you don’t find sufficient alignment it may be time to examine whether or not your personal and professional goals can be met within the context of your present workplace. Organizations benefit from engaged employees – if there isn’t alignment between you and your organization, it will be increasingly challenging to stay engaged. You may need a better understanding of your organization’s goals and direction in order to get excited and buy-in. However, if the new direction simply isn’t a good fit for you, it may be time for a gracious exit. Either option is good career management.

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