You are the owner and driver of the goals management process in your organization or for your team using Asana Goals. But what does that look like in reality? Read on if you want specific examples of goal process activities throughout the year.
Leading the goals process for your organization
The goal management process has four distinct phases: drafting, finalization, execution, and grading. During the last quarter of the year, the annual goal planning takes place, and all goals for the next year are drafted and approved.
Besides the annual planning process described here, a faster planning process can be done every quarter or half to create shorter-term goals based on the ones made during the annual process.
At Asana, we conduct goals planning annually and every half because we find this is the right balance between strategy and execution.
Let’s take a look at each phase and its timeline in detail.
The purpose of this phase is for both company and team goals to be ready to be reviewed for finalization.
This phase starts in the last quarter of the year and comprises two milestones. First, the leadership team comes up with a high-confidence draft of the company goals based on the organization’s mission. Then, teams come up with drafts for goals based on the company goals.
Milestone: Company-level goals drafting
High-confidence company goals drafts must be finished with enough time left for team goals to be drafted and approved before the end of the year. Drafting the most strategic company goals can take up to 2 months, with more tactical ones taking less.
If the planning process is for a single team, this phase can be skipped, and the team can base its goals on company priorities or its mission.
What it looks like
Once high-confidence company goals are drafted, they are shared with the organization so that teams can develop goals that will support them.
Milestone: team-level goals drafting
Team goals drafts must be finished with enough time for all goals to be approved before the end of the year. Depending on the organization's size, drafting company goals can take two weeks for small ones and one month or more for larger ones.
This phase can take a week if the planning process is for a single team.
What it looks like
- The leadership team shares the strategy for the year with the company through the company goals. They must communicate the What and Why of these goals so teams can think of ways to contribute.
- These goals then cascade down to team goals, drafted by team leads in support of company goals. The content of these goals must follow the best practices for goal writing.
- Individuals and teams can share their ideas and create their own goals in line with the company’s strategy. Combined with a cascade approach, bottom-up co-creation of goals stimulates team innovation and engagement.
A top-down approach where all the team-level goals must cascade down from one of the company goals creates alignment. At the same time, teams foster bottom-up innovation when they suggest new goals, even when these are not contributing to the previously established top-down company-level goals.
Companies should combine top-down and bottom-up approaches to goal creation according to their priorities.
The purpose of this phase is for both company and team goals to be approved by the relevant stakeholders.
All goals must be finalized and approved by the end of the year. Finalization can take 1-2 weeks for small organizations and 3-4 weeks for larger ones.
What it looks like
Company-level goal owners review and finalize their goals with the leadership team. Team goal owners review and approve their goals with their managers and other relevant stakeholders. Asana approvals are the perfect tool to conduct this phase.
In this phase, the leadership team can review their company goals based on the team goals created to consider bottom-up ideas coming from the teams.
In this phase, teams work towards completing their goals. Goal owners communicate the status of the goals to their stakeholders. These status updates are critical to flag risks early and either recalibrate the goal or ask for more resources to meet it.
It’s a best practice to define formal milestones during the year to communicate and review the status of a goal. If needed, these milestones can be used to discuss with stakeholders if a goal should be updated to reflect unforeseen conditions or if new resources should be used to keep the goal on track.
Depending on the nature of your goals, this can happen every month, every quarter, or once mid-year. Goals can be refined or updated during these reviews, given new information that arises during execution.
As a general rule, you should use the following cadence when writing status updates:
- Annual goals: at least quarterly updates.
- Half (six months) goals: quarterly or monthly updates.
- Quarterly goals: at least monthly updates.
Status updates should contain the following information:
- What’s the status of the goal (on track, at risk, off track), and why.
- Key accomplishments towards the completion of the goal.
- Next steps for the goal.
The goal progress in Asana can be shared with stakeholders using status updates. Goal owners can set recurring reminders to create status updates with their desired cadence (weekly, biweekly, etc.). Learn more about status updates.
The objective of this phase is to evaluate the goal’s success criteria defined during the approval phase. The goal is then closed and graded as achieved, partial, missed, or dropped. Read more about writing grading criteria for goals.
Grading can be done at any time when a goal is completed. For example, if you have a goal to launch a campaign by the end of February, that goal should be graded at the time of completion. Having said that, it’s a best practice to establish milestones in your goals process during the year for formally grading goals. This typically happens at least twice: once mid-year and once at the end of the year. Organizations that use quarterly goals set quarterly grading milestones.
What it looks like
In Asana, grading happens with a status update. To do so, update the goal’s status to achieved, partial, missed, or dropped based on the grading criteria defined for the goal in the approval phase. Include information about the impact of the goal and any deviations from the plan or reasons why it wasn’t met.
With grading comes reflection about the learnings related to the goals and their execution, which should be socialized and used for the following year.
Do you have questions? Reach out to us via your Customer Success Manager or our Asana Forum!