Meet John.

John is the CEO of a medium-sized organisation which has offices in multiple locations. He has a record of achieving his goals, and in his spare time enjoys time with his young family and dreams about spending more time on the golf course.

He and his senior leadership team are about to embark on a process which is common to almost every organisation on the planet – setting the goals and objectives at the beginning of the financial year (let’s call this point A) which the organisation needs to meet or exceed by the end of the financial year (let’s call this point B). atob

John is blessed with a solid leadership team. Angelina is the head of Finance and has been with the company for 3 years. She started at around the same time as Robbie, who is in charge of Operations. Sales & Marketing is led by Sharon, who was recently promoted from within, and the most experienced member of the team is Damian, who is in charge of Information Technology. Sarah, in charge of HR, has recently been brought into the leadership group.

“Team, we have a big responsibility this up-coming year. Currently, we are on track to hit our performance goals, but let’s also remember that we did set the expectation bar a little low in line with economic uncertainty. We don’t have the same luxury for next year. The board has challenged us to come up with a 30% bottom line improvement, which is to come from top-line growth, improved productivity and operational improvements. How will we achieve this?”

The annual pilgrimage from A to B

The names and numbers will differ, but similar scenarios are played out in meeting rooms right across the globe, each and every year. Finance contributes by ensuring the numbers work and holds everyone accountable. Sales contributes by ensuring the team sells more product. Operations contributes by improving productivity and efficiencies. IT contributes in much the same way. How is Sarah going to contribute to where the organisation will be at point B?

Before we explore this, lets first look at a unique human characteristic which places all sorts of pressure on most organisations. Most of us are hopeless predictors of the position our future selves will be in. We always seem to over-estimate how much resource our future self will have. We want to impress, but then get frazzled when we realise we forgot to factor in eating and sleeping into the equation. We also forget to build in contingencies for issues and distractions. However, Point B is Point B. I don’t know of too many boards who will have a sympathetic ear for “we didn’t set our goals very well and so we only aimed for Point A and a half”. That is Latin for start updating your resumes.

How can HR contribute to Point B success?

Organisations are full of human beings, which is a wonderful opportunity for HR Leaders. We know from experience and the many articles written on the subject that when human beings are involved, the path to goal attainment is clear. At point A, set

clear Point B objectives, clearly communicate these Point B objectives, ensure everyone is on the chosen mode of transport heading towards Point B (buses seem to be the vehicle of choice for many) and regularly update on the progress of the journey. Oh, did I mention the important role that the leadership team plays in inspiring promoting an exciting future?

HR plays a major role in this. Helping to recruit people into the organisation who are committed to the journey, and who are committed to achieving the goals. Checking in with individuals and teams to ensure that there are no obstacles or speed bumps in the way. Ensuring that values are being adhered to. HR is heavily involved.

“I am committed to helping the company achieve its goals”

For me, this is the most important statement that any employee should strongly agree with. As long as the right people have been hired, and this remains true, the organisation is in a fantastic position. There are a number of metrics an organisation should measure continuously, and this is certainly one of them. Whatever an organisation needs to do to make this happen, is worth making happen.

Getting to Point B on time with everyone still happily on the bus/train/plane/scooter is the only thing that really matters. It’s what makes John and his team so successful.

Jason Buchanan is General Manager Insight & Innovation for Optimum Consulting. If this article appealed to you, visit

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