Cascading Objectives: Balancing Individual and Organisational Goals

Oct 11, 2023 | Performance Management Discussion

cascading objectives waterfall

In a thriving organisation, a link exists between individual employee objectives and the broader goals of the organisation. This balance, often referred to as goal alignment, is important for organisational success. However, achieving this alignment is a challenge, especially in a dynamic, fast-paced business environment. This is where cascading objectives can shine.


What Are Cascading Objectives?

Picture a waterfall. It starts from a point of height, cascading down in a series of steps to reach a calm, collective pool below. Now, think of cascading objectives in a similar vein. They begin at the zenith, the highest echelon of your organisation where the big, audacious goals reside. As these goals trickle down, they morph into supportive objectives, tailored for every team and individual nestled within the company’s structure.

It’s like handing down a narrative from the top, which gets a little more detailed, a tad more specific with every step it descends, until it reaches every nook and cranny of the organisation. What does this achieve? A powerhouse of alignment! It’s the golden thread that stitches the company-wide goals with the daily to-dos of its employees.

Now, let’s talk long-term. Cascading those lofty, long-term company goals creates more than just a roadmap; it fosters a shared sense of purpose. It’s about turning that ‘big picture’ into a collage of smaller, actionable snapshots, each capturing the essence of what the organisation strives to achieve.


The Importance of Goal Alignment

Goal alignment bridges the individual employee objectives with the longer term goals of the organisation. Notice I said bridge and not “connect”.

Simply “connecting” an employee’s objective to a company one is not particularly useful (see next section). This simple connection should not be thought of as a objectives cascade. A cascade – or bridge, shows you all the objectives between the employee in the high-level organisational goals. ie, the objectives the manager has, the manager’s manager etc.

Here are some expanded benefits of goal alignment:

  • Increased Employee Engagement: When employees see a clear link between their personal objectives and the broader organisational goals, their engagement levels rise. They view their tasks as vital contributions towards a larger mission, not just as “to-dos”.
  • Enhanced Communication: Goal alignment opens communication channels between employees and management. It fosters a platform for constructive dialogue regarding individual, team, and organisational goals, paving the way for a cohesive work culture.
  • Boosted Productivity: A well-aligned workforce is a productive workforce. Clarity around goals enables employees to focus their energies on priority tasks, thus enhancing overall productivity.
  • Identifies Wasted Effort: If an employee objective can’t be linked in the cascade, perhaps it should be dropped.
  • Collective Success: Goal alignment ensures everyone is working towards the same direction, contributing to the achievement of organisational objectives.


Why Cascading Objectives Are Better

Above, I mentioned that simply connecting an employee’s objectives to organisation goals is not very useful. When you do this, the employee can’t see ‘how’ their objective fits in. It’s also often difficult to choose a specific organisational objective to connect too. This is because they are often do far removed from the role of an employee several layers down in an organisation. When you can argue that an individual objective can connect to multiple high-level goals, they lose their meaning and introduces ambiguity.

Aligned employee objectives in a full cascade are so much better. It’s far easier to connect an employee’s objective to one of their manager’s objectives. When each manager does this, the full objective cascade is created, giving much better visibility to all involved.


Do you have to strictly cascade objectives?

Ah, the hierarchy of traditional goal setting – it paints a picture of objectives trickling down from the top, each tier awaiting its share of directives. But let’s toss that rigid framework out for a moment, shall we?

In the real, bustling corridors of our organisations, objectives often sprout from the ground up. Managers and employees, with their ears to the ground, sometimes have a clearer view of what some objectives ought to be. So, they roll up their sleeves and start crafting these goals, even if they are little islands of ambition at first.

Now, here’s where the magic of cascading objectives weaves in. As these objectives are nurtured, they don’t remain islands for long. They find their tributaries that connect them to the broader river of organisational goals, fitting snugly into the cascade, even if it’s a tad later.

Now, picture this – the objectives are set, the cascade is flowing, but alas, a few objectives are akin to lost kites, with no string anchoring them to the grand scheme. What do we do with these? Well, it’s a sign, perhaps, that these objectives may need to bid adieu. If they don’t knit into the overarching business narrative, they might just be orchestrating a tune of their own, not contributing to the harmonious symphony we aim for.

And herein lies the unsung prowess of cascading objectives – they spotlight the effort that fuels the drive towards the grand vision, and equally, they expose the effort that’s meandering into the wilderness. It’s like having a diligent gardener who not only nurtures the blooms but is also adept at spotting the weeds, ensuring the garden is a sight to behold, thriving and in tune with the envisioned paradise.


Visual Cascading of Objectives: A Game Changer

PerformanceHub introduced a groundbreaking feature of visual cascading objectives. Creating a visual pathway linking individual objectives to managerial and up to top-level organisational long term goals.

The visual cascade is more than a graphical representation; it shows how employees’ contributions fit into the bigger picture. When an employee sets or is assigned an objective, it’s part of a larger canvas that trails up the organisational hierarchy, linking to their manager’s objectives, and so on, until it reaches the apex — the organisational objective.

This visual linkage helps employees understand the importance and impact of their objectives. It brings the often abstract concept of organisational objectives into a tangible, relatable reality for every employee.

Moreover, the visual cascade acts as a barometer for organisational alignment. At a glance, leadership can gauge how well-aligned the team members are with the business objectives, identifying any alignment gaps that may need addressing.


Employee-Proposed Objectives: Fostering Engagement

Empowering employees to propose their own objectives fosters a culture of engagement and autonomy. PerformanceHub champions this feature, allowing employees to steer their own professional development while ensuring alignment with organisational goals.

When employees have the liberty to propose objectives, it instills a sense of ownership and relevance to their tasks. They transition from mere executors of top-down directives to active contributors to the organisational narrative. This autonomy sparks engagement, motivation, and a profound sense of achievement.

Furthermore, employee-proposed objectives open a dialogue between employees and managers. It cultivates a culture of feedback, appreciation, and continuous improvement, as employees and managers collaboratively refine objectives to ensure alignment with organisational goals.


Strategies for Achieving Goal Alignment

Achieving a harmonious alignment between individual and organisational goals requires a clear strategy. Here are some actionable strategies:

  • Clear Communication: Transparent communication from leadership regarding organisational objectives is paramount. It lays the foundation for aligning individual and team goals. Through clear communication, employees grasp the strategic vision of the organisation and how their contributions fit into this vision.
  • SMART Goal Setting: Adopting the SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goal-setting framework ensures clarity and attainability of goals. It provides a structured approach to setting meaningful objectives that align with organisational goals.
  • Regular Check-ins and Reviews: Routine check-ins and performance reviews offer opportunities to assess the alignment of individual goals with organisational objectives. They serve as platforms for feedback, adjustments, and recognition, ensuring employees are on the right path towards achieving their goals.
  • Utilising Performance Management Software: Leveraging modern performance management systems like PerformanceHub can significantly streamline the goal alignment process. Features like visual cascading of objectives and employee-proposed objectives facilitate a seamless alignment of individual goals with organisational objectives, enhancing transparency and engagement.

Achieving goal alignment is a dynamic, evolving process requiring continuous effort, feedback, and adjustments. These strategies, coupled with modern performance management systems, pave the way for a culture of alignment, engagement, and collective success.



Aligning individual goals with organisational objectives is a collaborative endeavour requiring clarity, communication, and a supportive infrastructure. Modern performance management systems like PerformanceHub significantly simplify this journey, offering a visual roadmap and fostering a culture of engagement and continuous feedback.

Goal alignment is not a one-time task but a dynamic, ongoing process evolving with the changing landscape of organisational objectives and individual aspirations. It’s a balancing act that, when executed well, propels organisations towards achieving their strategic goals while nurturing a motivated, engaged, and productive workforce. 


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