Public or private goals?
Updated over a week ago

A huge question that faces companies when they are adopting goal management is what level of publicity to give to the goals of the organization, the teams, and the individuals.

In this article, we discuss the pros and cons of public and private goals to help you make an informed decision.

When does it make sense to make goals public?

When they are company goals

Overall, company goals should always be public and known by all employees of a company. As Jorge Paulo Lemann says, "a big and challenging common dream makes the team row in the same direction."

The company's goals should be public because they increase the alignment between its different parts, be they teams or people, who become clear on what are the macro goals to be achieved.

Team goals for team members

Similarly, the benefits of having company goals open to all are repeated at the team level, and teams see great benefit in knowing their collective goals.

The same benefits of alignment and direction are repeated, so every individual member of a team should know the goals of his or her group.

Team goals for members of other teams and individual goals for other individuals

It is at this level of granularity that the controversy begins. Should a team's goals be visible to members of other teams? In our opinion, yes. We believe that there are no contraindications to this (except in the case below).

It increases alignment between the teams; interdependencies between different parties become evident and are discussed; teams start helping each other with their goals; and it increases transparency in the company.

Transparency of goals and objectives is a great way to increase accountability and empowerment of your employees by allowing the employees themselves to discuss the results of their peers, their department or the company as a whole.

When might it make more sense to leave them private?

Companies that practice variable remuneration to their employees based on the achievement of goals are those where the publicity of goals can present the most risks: if great care is not taken in creating goals of equal difficulty for all employees, they may feel unfairly treated if they see colleagues with apparently easier goals having expected more positive results in the achievement of their individual goals and therefore earning more for it.

This is one of the main risks of trying to reduce the individual performance of your employees to artificially precise numbers to be calculated, as is the case with scorecards that have as output an employee performance index based on the achievement of their contracted goals.

It is practically impossible to guarantee that goals are set uniformly throughout the company, so we believe much more in a qualitative results evaluation process that is correctly calibrated in multi-disciplinary committees. But this is not the subject of this article.

So if your company uses goals as the basis for variable compensation, consider keeping individual goals private, even though this will greatly slow down the process of developing the practice in the company and greatly diminish the alignment of efforts between different teams and people.

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