Aligning An Individual’s Goals with Company Objectives

Matt Miller

VP Product Development at Flatiron School



"I was working with a team that was running fast but needed some maturation. They worked well as individuals but not together as a team. As a result, we had pain points in our ability to support our product's architectural improvements, we had major technical spikes, and we had tech debt to pay down. All of these things were taking away a proportional amount of capacity that should have been allocated to value-driven work for the business. Consequently, I needed to improve our prioritization and productivity so that each individual's goals were aligned with company objectives."

Actions taken

First, I established OKRs that laddered up to the business focus. It is impossible for OKRs to capture everything that needs to be done in a job but they are inclusive and forward-looking. One way is to think of OKRs is that they are squad-level objectives. Ideally, they are structured so that they align to the business needs and so the squad as a whole is oriented in that direction. Then, we determined the career ladder for each individual. What does success look like in their role? As an engineer, what does it mean to write good code, maintain that code, and support our products? How can you succeed in your function so that you are contributing to the success of the whole team? And what steps are needed to advance to the next level? Ideally, I wanted individuals' career success to align with OKRs. I tried to have business perspectives be an element of the IC's career ladder so that they had some degree of accountability tied to what was important to the business as a whole as opposed to just technical issues at the squad level. If the business needs to be aligned with their career success then I could help them level up and get them into a role where we built their capabilities out to support the business needs, but only if the interest was there.

Lessons learned

  • "Goal setting is important because it helps express what matters and why."
  • "Try to find alignment between the needs of the business, the individual's interests, and the individual's abilities. Maximizing on all three will allow you to have ICs who are working together on a team towards a shared company objective as well as it being beneficial to the individual's career goals."
  • "The more senior you get as an engineer, even on a technical IC path, the more you should be able to make technical decisions that have an impact on the bigger scope of the business. It's really about being able to map out effective technical solutions to business problems. And part of that is understanding the bigger business concepts."

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Matt Miller

VP Product Development at Flatiron School

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