Using goals to drive productivity: Set the STAGE!


Posted by Kathi Enderes and Nehal Nangia on October 17, 2019.

Let’s imagine that you’re focusing on your health and fitness and want to incorporate walking into your daily routine. Without setting a goal of how many steps to take every day, you’ll likely not get better at walking more, and without monitoring your progress along the way, you won’t know if you’re achieving your goal. The same is true for performance management—and the stakes are higher, considering that this is an activity that feeds into your career, growth, and compensation. If you aren’t clear on what you’re trying to achieve and aren’t getting regular updates on your progress, it will be difficult for you to be productive—hence the business case for goals.

Core attributes of effective goal-setting
In our recent blog post Why performance goals matter—and 4 strategies to improve them, we dug into how high-performing organizations use goals differently than their low-performing counterparts and identified the mindset shift and practices needed for using goals to effectively drive productivity. In this blog post, we want to take that one step further by identifying and describing five core attributes organizations should consider while setting goals. Based on our research into what some of the most successful organizations are doing, these attributes are Shared, Technology-Enabled, Autonomous, Growth-Focused, and Embedded—easy to remember as STAGE.

Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019.

  • Shared (team-based and transparent). Set goals collectively at a team level so that team members are empowered to select and focus on areas that align with individual strengths and business needs. This approach also allows collaboration among team members who share the same goals. Create transparency around goals to enable continued collaboration, multisource feedback, and social recognition while inspiring trust across team members (a hallmark of organizational performance).
  • Technology-Enabled. Leverage technology to enable scalability of goal-setting, goal-tracking, and goal visibility. Using technology to facilitate goal management can also enable crowdsourcing real-time feedback and recognition in the flow of work.
  • Autonomous. Provide individuals with autonomy in setting performance goals that align with team and business goals. The key shift here is toward setting goals with support and guidance from leaders rather than based on approval from leaders. Autonomy influences ownership for results, making it that much more likely that people will accomplish what they focus on.1
  • Growth-Focused. Use goals to encourage growth and development and not merely to achieve targets or to make compensation and promotion decisions. Managers and workers must collaborate to effectively advance these goals rather than set goals in a top-down fashion and hold workers accountable for accomplishing them on their own.
  • Embedded (in business cycles). Align goals and business cycles, and embed goals in the flow of work to ensure that they’re part of the work itself. Work is often managed in business quarters or even months, not annually. Therefore, set and update goals at least quarterly to ensure they are aligned and still relevant for business success.

Set the STAGE!
People want more than an easy set of transactions in their work. Given the significant investment of time, energy, and resources we spend at work, we all want a career, a bigger purpose, and personal meaning from work.2 Goals used in this context—empowering people to set their own goals, work together, and grow through accomplishing goals—can help with that.

Our recent work on performance management shines a spotlight on goals and their influence within high-performing organizations. In Top Findings for Using Goals to Drive Productivity and Performance,3 we substantiate the business case for goals and highlight how several organizations build these attributes into goal-setting and management. Our High-Impact Performance Management study,4 based on findings from more than 1,000 organizations across industries and geographies,helped us identify the five attributes above as core to effective goal-setting. Embedding these attributes in goal-setting helps high-performing organizations empower teams, amplify productivity, and improve workforce experience and business results.

Source: Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2019.

We took a closer look at examples of building the STAGE attributes into goal-setting and performance management in our Bersin webinar Goals to Drive Productivity and Performance. (Bersin members can access it here.) Goals make a difference when done well—set the STAGE!

If your organization is innovating in the area of goals, we’d love to hear from you! Contact Nehal Nangia ( and Kathi Enderes ( to share your story. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website.

Kathi Enderes PhD, is a vice president and the talent and workforce research leader at Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Nehal Nangia is the lead adviser and research manager, talent and workforce research, at Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

1Top Findings for Using Goals to Drive Productivity and Performance, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Nehal Nangia, 2019.
22019 Global Human Capital Trends: Leading the social enterprise—Reinvent with a human focus, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Insights, 2019,
3Top Findings for Using Goals to Drive Productivity and Performance, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Kathi Enderes, PhD, and Nehal Nangia, 2019.
4High-Impact Performance Management study, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP, 2018

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