Q: In what ways can a company align organizational and employee goals?

A: However a firm defines its brand, that brand must be supported by the internal workings of the business. Services and business controls need to align to provide the customer with the value promised through branding.

Three management theories guide the alignment process. The first is goal-setting theory. This states that the mere setting of difficult-but-achievable goals is a significant motivator of performance. Goals help employees to pursue activities that support the overall objectives of the organization. Difficult goals generally lead to greater effort, persistency and focus. Tight deadlines lead to a more rapid work pace and the application of relevant skills.

The second, expectancy theory, suggests that employees expect two fundamental patterns to materialize in their jobs. First, high effort should lead to acknowledged good performance and second, that such good performance, in turn, should lead to an appropriate reward.

The third is equity theory. Employees work in a social context in which they compare their own performance to that of others. A sense of fair play and equity is central to understanding motivation. Equity exists in a worker’s salary and training equals that of others with similar salary and training. Equity does not exist if a worker’s outputs and inputs are less than others’ outputs and inputs. Comparisons are often subjective and different employees value different outcomes. Sound interactive performance feedback can build an understanding of equity.

Motivation works best when the firm has a well-defined value proposition. Focusing on value makes the motivational theories come to life.

These theories see individuals as active decisionmakers who have regard for the rewards that result from their efforts. The expectation is that positive employee motivation goes beyond the walls of the workplace and is shared with customers. Supporting these theories is a business strategy that: is understood by employees and customers; is in keeping with the defined mission of the organization; takes into account the values of its stakeholders; and provides resources adequate to getting the job done.


Jack Militello is a professor of management at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.