Making the Case for Growth Management Software in your Association

For years, major corporations have been tracking and measuring their execution of strategic priorities to disrupt the status quo in their organization and drive significant growth. It’s a model we typically see in the enterprise tech space, but there are takeaways and practices that are applicable for teams of any size and in any industry including associations.

OKR Tracking and Management Software

When you break it down, the concept is based in simple business practices: identify where you want to be, set the plan for how you will get there, and make the process continuous. An association and its staff shouldn’t be reviewing progress at the start and end of each period – performance needs to be managed daily, weekly and monthly. It’s a continuous approach to goal management that can shift the entire culture of an association.

We breakdown the performance ROI of goal/growth management and some action items to consider when rolling out this type of framework in your organization.

What kind of ROI can you expect from growth management?

Tracking and measuring execution of strategic priorities equips an association with valuable data points that make it simple to evaluate the return for implementing such a methodology. Just as an example, Sears Holding Company released their performance metrics after they rolled out a strategic priority tracking system to 20,000 associates. Within 18 months, they saw:

  • 8.5% increase in hourly sales
  • teams who consistently used the growth management system were 11.5% more likely to move into a higher performance bracket

There was a clear, tangible impact on both individual employee performance and the organization’s bottom line. Rolling out a new framework at any organization may seem like a significant undertaking, but the most successful ones are able to implement the methodology without adding substantial time to the workflow of employees/staff. As Chris Mason, Sr Director, Strategic Talent Solutions at Sears put it, “If you knew there was a tool out there that takes just a few hours each year to use which could increase your chances of high performance by 11.5%, wouldn’t you at least try it?”

Although Sears obviously isn’t an association, it serves as an example of the positive cultural and financial impact to any organization, including associations, that growth management can have. The benefits to the association culture should not be undervalued – these trickle down and ultimately become needle movers for the association and perhaps more importantly, its staff and volunteers.

We evaluated some additional stats around workplace benefits that teams can expect when adopting a goal management framework:

  • 3.5x increase in productivity – we looked at company data on Align, and after four months of consistent usage of a goal management system, organizations doubled the priorities completed per period. After 15 planning periods of adopting the system, priority completion increased 3.5 times over.

based on Align performance data of 1,900 companies from 2014-2018

  • Increased engagement of your staff– organizations that huddle (daily and/or weekly) have 5% higher eNPS scores (a metric to measure employee engagement and satisfaction) compared to those that don’t. Huddling is important because it facilitates communication within the association and focus around the metrics that matter. It gives everyone on the team a voice to share updates, opportunities and risks.

Seeing ROI from these systems is not something that happens over night. And it’s not something everyone on the team will embrace with open arms right away. These methodologies are proven. It’s not simply something people feel will work based on anecdotal comments. There is actual data and metrics supporting the adoption of a more formalized goal management system. To encourage teams to stick with it, you have to keep the catalyst for adopting goal management at the forefront. When your team buys-in and commits to the change, you’ll begin to see results within the first few months. The results will compound after a year and so on.

Ultimately, associations should consider the opportunity cost of not implementing this type of system. How much more could the association be achieving if it had a formalized goal management system and accompanying technology in place?

In short: being able to track and measure execution of the association’s strategic goals creates data points from which success and achievement can be subjectively evaluated. Implementing a growth management system isn’t a significant time investment, yet it can create long-lasting positive cultural and financial value for the entire association.

Alright, so how do I rollout goal management within the association? We outline six important considerations below.

  1. Start with your BHAG (big hairy audacious goal). For Microsoft, it was “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Sounded crazy at the time. Your association’s BHAG sets the long-term vision for the association. It should be a unifying force for your staff, volunteers and members that aligns with your association’s core mission and values. And remember to think long term – where does the association want to be 10+  years from now?
  2. Embrace transparency. Strategic plans, core values, and organizational performance are not exclusive to the C-Suite. In order to do their jobs well, every individual within the association office should know where the association is heading and how it’s going to get there. Involve staff members in their own goal setting, monitoring and management. This instills a sense of shared ownership in the association’s success.
  3. Don’t set goals that can’t be measured. And don’t set goals that are too safe. If you set goals you know you’ll achieve, you’re underutilizing your staff. Goals should be healthily ambitious and all goals need a quantifiable metric assigned to them. Measurement means quantifying the goal as well as making it time bound. This gives you the data you need to continuously monitor progress, see what works, what didn’t, rinse and repeat.
  4. Identify the metrics that matter most. What are the 3-5 most important metrics that indicate success for the association for that period? It can be the number of new members, member retention percentage, non-dues related revenue, etc. You can have additional target metrics that you monitor, but you need to know the 3-5 most crucial and keep everyone focused on those.
  5. Cascade goals from the top down. Going back to the BHAG – use that as a litmus test for defining association goals, consider how this goal will get you closer to that long-term vision. Set departmental or team goals that ladder up to the association goals and individual goals that ladder up to those. There needs to be an evident link between individual, departmental and association objectives.
  6. Keep lines of communication open. Part of evaluating progress involves face to face conversations once you have performance data. Create daily, weekly and monthly meeting cycles to raise red flags, identify opportunities and keep teams focused on the key objectives and metrics you’ve outlined. It sounds like a lot of meetings. But effective meeting rhythms will save time and pointless email chains in the long run.

In short: rolling out a goal management system has six key factors for success – long-term vision, transparency, measurement, more measurement (focus), alignment and communication.

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