Set Goals to Improve an Organization's Capacity
OLB 7002, Assignment 6
DuBose, Justin Z.
Dr. Michael J. Kranzusch
17 September 2017
Introduction and Literature Review
Research has demonstrated the impact of effective leadership on organizational capacity. In particular, the role of leadership in crafting effective vision statements and setting realistic and attainable goals for the organization and its individuals is integral. Specificity in goal setting has proven to be more effective toward attainment than ambiguity. Specifying measurable and specific goals improves “performance as compared with more general ‘do your best’ requests” (Locke & Latham, 2002). In contrast, “effective vision statements tend to be relatively abstract, based on imagery, far-reaching, and timeless” and are “never fully achieved in practice” (Van Knippenberg & Stam, 2013).
Specific and measurable goals nested within a timeless vision are a combination which has proven to be instrumental in increasing organizational capacity. Goal setting theory has been well researched and several studies have concluded that improving the performance of those within the organization by the setting of goals is the most effective way to increase capacity. Such research has concluded that “setting goals is one promising way to improve workers’ performance” (Asmus, 2015). As organizational leaders seek to increase capacity, their ability to craft goals for their employees can serve as a powerful and effective tool in accomplishing this objective.
In combining both goals and strategy, Google is often recognized as one of the best examples of organizational alignment. While their vision is to organize the world’s information, they “delineate concrete ways and a clear timeline…about how to implement such ideas” (Berson, 2015). This combination of powerful vision casting and specific goal setting which aims at vision fulfillment has served to continually increase Google’s capacity and make them one of the largest and productive companies in the world.
Vision Casting and Goal Setting for Columbus Christian Academy
In constructing such a vision and setting goals for Columbus Christian Academy, deciding on a framework in which to operate is one of the most important decisions in this process. My recommendation, and the model which will be employed in this paper, is the 7S model. The 7S model is widely acknowledged as “one of the most useful frameworks ever developed for understanding an entire organization” (Spaho, 2014). The seven elements of this framework are strategy, structure, systems, staffing, skills, style, and shared values. In applying this framework, it is imperative to remember that application is best accomplished and rewarded in terms of increasing capacity when it is done with flexibility in a dynamic environment. Lindenberg (2016), for example, concluded that organizations which emphasize flexibility will likely increase capacity as they align expertise with responsibility as opposed to maintaining a fixed command structure regardless of individual abilities. Our operational environment is dynamic and constantly changes and fluctuates, and thus the implementation of these seven elements must be implemented with flexibility in mind.
Implementing the 7S Framework
Our strategy for vision-casting and goal setting must be two-fold: it must involve both the future-focused, imagination driven, over-arching picture of why we exist while also setting goals of various timelines and difficulties which contribute to the fulfillment of our vision. We must communicate why our Academy exists – which is to provide a Christian education of the highest quality while utilizing the most advanced methodologies – while setting planned, specific, measurable goals of how this is to be accomplished. These goals would include annual goals for students – such as educational trips and academic achievements – as well as the staff and organization – such as annual training, professional education, and budgetary goals. This strategy must include each of these elements if we are to increase organizational capacity.
The structure of Columbus Christian Academy also must be evaluated and flexibly adjusted as necessary. Presently, we have an academic faculty of fifteen, a support staff of five, a front office staff of two, an administrator, and a school board. The vision must come from the leadership of the school board and be communicated by the administrator. This vision, which is communicated repeatedly and reinforced as often as possible, is received by the staff at all levels and provides them with the “big picture” as they operate in their various roles daily. The administrator, within the structure, would also work with the staff in receiving input toward constructing weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals with and for them. As these and other broader staff meetings occur, the focus would be on the accomplishment of these goals and their unique and significant contribution to the fulfillment of the overall vision of Columbus Christian Academy.
Our systems have been a continual concern and focus of improvement over the last two years. Recently, we have developed an operations manual which outlines our systems as well as a student and employee handbook. While these have accomplished the purposes of providing objective systems and processes, they have yet to be evaluated for their potential to increase organizational capacity. In view of Lindenberg’s (2016) findings, a committee should be formed of individuals with expertise in these matters whose task it will be to evaluate these systems and make recommendations on how current systems can be improved in a manner which is likely to increase our organizational capacity.
While our staffing is sufficient in terms of number of personnel, it is lacking in terms of training and continuing professional education. This is the area which is most likely to allow for improvement and increase in organizational capacity. Staff members need to be required to attend certain events (training, seminars, classes, etc.) which will increase their professionalism and skill. This will not only increase their confidence and ability, but allow for specific goal creation and attainment. These goals will be aligned within the vision of the Academy and will serve to increase organizational capacity.
As our staffing and staff members improve, so will our individual and collective professional skills. The skills required for successful operation are diverse – from teaching to technological and from administrative to custodial – and yet each is significant and contributes to organizational capacity. Ultimately, each desired and needed skill set should be codified with flexible job descriptions which are clearly nested within the vision of the Academy. How the job description and skill set contributes to vision fulfillment and goal attainment should be delineated and communicated as clearly as possible. Within our systems, there should also be room for skill development as discussed in the previous paragraph. This aligns with Berson’s (2015) research regarding the importance of setting realistic and concrete goals nested within the vision of the organization.
Our organizational style is an area that has never been considered or explored, likely because it is the most intangible area of organizations within the 7S framework (Spaho, 2014). Recently, however, the idea of personality tests as a part of the hiring process has been discussed in view of creating a “style”, or climate, which is comprised of a team of intentionally selected personalities. When this becomes an institutional practice, the creation of a “style” should be also be created, communicated, and reinforced to the staff as often as possible. This removes the subjective interpretation of social norms within the organization and creates a style by which all abide. This also contributes to increasing organizational capacity as the work environment is designed and maintained for fostering the attainment of goals and fulfillment of vision as everyone works together.
Finally, the shared values of our Academy are an area which are in need of improvement in their dissemination, communication, and reinforcement to staff. While organizational values have been established, they have been intentionally linked to organizational decision-making, employee interaction, and production. While our shared values may be present in our literature, they are not embraced by employees, much less aligned with the setting of goals and overall contribution to the vision of the Academy. This is an area which, like staffing, is worthy of our attention and effort and which could greatly increase our organizational capacity as these values are embraced and embodied by our staff and become the filter through which goals are set and vision is realized.
Columbus Christian Academy does not currently have a framework for creating and evaluating goals and organizational vision. The 7S model presented in this paper has been proven to be an effective framework for such creation and evaluation. Columbus Christian Academy would be well served to implement this framework in constructing, or at least re-evaluating, their organizational mission and goals. This would allow for not only objective evaluation to take place, but it would also serve to foster employee development, create a professional and enjoyable work climate, and ultimately to increase organizational capacity. Each of these elements would allow Columbus Christian Academy to not only function more efficiently, but would also see them realize their vision as they work together toward achieving the goals which they establish for themselves.
Asmus, S., Karl, F., Mohnen, A., & Reinhart, G. (2015). “The impact of goal-setting on worker performance - empirical evidence from a real-effort production experiment”. Procedia CIRP, 26, 127-132. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
Berson, Y., Halevy, N., Shamir, B., & Erez, M. (2015). “Leading from different psychological distances: A construal-level perspective on vision communication, goal setting, and follower motivation”. The Leadership Quarterly, 26, 143-155. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
Lindenberg, S., & Foss, N. J. (2011). Managing Joint Production Motivation: The Role of Goal Framing and Governance Mechanisms. Academy Of Management Review, 36(3), 500. doi:10.5465/AMR.2011.61031808
Locke, E. & Latham, G. (2002). “Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation: A 35-year odyssey”. American Psychologist, 57(9), 705-717. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
Spaho, K. (2014). 7S MODEL AS A FRAMEWORK FOR PROJECT MANAGEMENT. Paper presented at the 450-464. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.proxy1.ncu.edu/docview/1643367675?accountid=28180
Van Knippenberg, D. & Stam, D. (2013). Visionary Leadership. In D.V. Day (Ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Leadership & Organizations, New York: Oxford University Press.
NG, LR, NCU, USAR
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