Alignment Is an Essential Foundation for Healthcare Organizations’ Goal Setting

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

The Society for Human Resources Management states that “A well-developed, legally compliant performance management system is an essential talent management tool for high-performing organizations.” Performance management drives employee behavior to align with organizational goals and objectives. This alignment is critical as job responsibilities become clearer and are specifically tied to the outcome you are seeking to achieve. This alignment is referred to as vertical alignment, and it ensures goals are everyone’s personal plan for getting the organization to their desired destination.

Make Sure You Facilitate Vertical Alignment

Many organizations fail in this type of vertical alignment leaving employees confused as to what is expected of them, resulting in a lack of engagement in organization goals and lack of positive outcomes. At the individual or group level, this makes sense: If you tell someone to proceed toward a destination but provide no map or guideposts to help them get there, they will probably get lost. Getting lost disengages the person or group from that journey, and their likelihood of reaching the destination is substantially decreased. Goals should provide that clear pathway or map across the organization to engage employees and help them reach the intended destination.

Work for Common Causes Across Teams and Departments

As employees develop their own roadmap, there is potential for employees to cross each other’s paths and conflict to evolve. It is also important that goals are aligned horizontally to ensure consistency, build momentum, and to reduce conflict between departments. Without alignment, each department could be focused on their specific goals to improve organizational performance, but could inadvertently be working against the efforts of another department. For example, if the ICU has a goal focused on ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), and the respiratory department does also, they can work together for a common cause and ensure that their decisions have positive implications for both departments.

Use a System for Regular Feedback and Outcomes Reporting

A clear performance management system has been proven to lead to higher employee engagement, reduced turnover, improved patient satisfaction, better quality, and positive financial outcomes as well. Research indicates that organizations that implement ongoing performance feedback or discussion throughout the year have 15% lower turnover than those that don’t, while 43% of highly engaged employees receive regular feedback. This data indicates employee willingness to stay connected to the organization’s broader mission to achieve its goals.

Like any good map or guidance system, vertical and horizontal goal alignment for healthcare are as important as longitude and latitude. Together, they ensure each employee, team, and department stays on the correct course toward the destination.