It’s natural for each team member within a high-performing product team to be driven to achieve their product line’s goals. This results in their team’s efforts positively impacting the overall product and, ultimately, company strategy. If each team is not aligned on how they will contribute toward company goals, confusion will likely ensue. Therefore, it is imperative that each individual team’s goals ladder up to a high-level strategy. The cross-team dependencies must also be considered well in advance.

Company Goals

Cross-organizational alignment starts at the executive leadership level. Gibson Biddle provides an example of Netflix’s hypothetical vision in his blog using the GLEe model. The entire organization can focus its energies on contributing toward the long-term company goal by carefully crafting and socializing the vision. Without this compass, each team will form their own understanding of the overall goals and plan and execute initiatives accordingly.  This can easily lead to competing goals that pit teams against one another. As opposed to collaborating to achieve a common vision. 

Gibson’s vision to “get big on DVDs, lead downloading, and expand worldwide” aligns teams to strive toward the unified goal. Without this, the overall goal is open to interpretation. Once the vision and strategy are established, it is important for the organization to measure and track progress using relevant metrics. In the example, this is measured through an array of proxy metrics that move the higher level monthly retention metric. Only then will the product and other teams be able to evaluate the impact of their initiatives on these metrics.

Team Goals

Next, each team within the organization should create challenging and specific goals that will contribute to the company-level goals. For instance, in his Netflix example, Gibson illustrates Team Original Content’s goal of increasing the percentage of members who watch at least 10 hours per month in order to move the needle on the company’s goal of increasing monthly retention. This framework provides clear visibility into how each team’s goals contribute toward the greater mission.

Another advantage of this exercise is that the entire organization becomes aware of each team’s efforts. This could lead to any number of collaborations such as Team Watching Experience already having a solution that could help Team Original Content get a head start. For instance, they may have customer interview artifacts and insights to jumpstart Team Watching Experience’s discovery. Additionally, teams can start to understand what cross-team dependencies they may have and start conversations with the teams they depend on to plan accordingly. This leads to more well-informed and amiable discussions given teams are aware of each others’ priorities. Finally, streamlining the team’s goal-setting initiatives to the entire organization is critical. Otherwise, teams may be setting themselves up for failure given that they will not have the necessary support to fulfill their goals.

Individual Goals

The goal-setting initiatives at the company and team level also help to create a foundation for individual goals. As product team members discuss their career goals, they can easily brainstorm opportunities to achieve those goals while aligning with the organization’s key priorities. Individuals can consider strategic opportunities that align with their goals and interests. This leads to a virtuous cycle of positive employee engagement in not only reaching their own goals but also those of the organization.

Keeping the team informed and aligned on goals at the individual, product line, and team levels helps clarify the lanes of each team member and prevent collisions. And each member will feel invested in each other’s success. Product managers who streamline their goals and vision drive accountability on their teams. And this drives their product forward.

About the speaker
Bharat Manglani HUMAN, Product Manager Contributor

Bharat Manglani is a Senior Product Manager at Zefr, an ad tech company focused on enabling content-level targeting and measurement across the world’s largest walled garden platforms. He was also a Product Manager at Human Security, a cybersecurity company focused on verifying the humanity of transactions over the Internet and disrupting the economics of cybercrime. Currently, he manages Zefr\'s reporting and analytics products, and his passion lies in protecting the Internet by helping to identify brand unsafe content.

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