Cascading Goals: How to foster a culture of accountability 

By John Lamprinakos


When people understand their company’s bigger mission—and the role they play in achieving it—good things happen.

It’s why we use—and value—cascading goals. 

In its simplest form, cascading goals is a strategy that requires leaders to establish strategic goals, based on the company’s overall objective. Then, each individual throughout the company creates supporting, or cascading, goals. 

If done right, this has many substantial benefits, both for the company and its employees. 

Not only does it create alignment, as everyone is ultimately working toward that overarching objective, but it also helps establish clear expectations and fosters a culture of accountability throughout the organization. 

At Screen Machine and Diamond Z, the concept has proven effective. But we have learned some important lessons as we’ve utilized this tool for every member of our team. 

Here are a few key ways to ensure cascading goals work for you, too. 

Focus on what each person can control. 

It may seem obvious, but these goals need to be relevant to the individual and his or her role. That’s why it’s crucial to have your employees invested in the process of creating their respective goals. Sure, managers can and should weigh in when needed. But ultimately, your employees should be generating goals based on how they know they can best support their manager and their team. 

Attach metrics, weight, and timing. 

Make goals measurable so employees and managers understand if a goal was achieved. Attach weight to make room for context—some goals are simply more important than others, and when it comes time to review, it’s important to understand if the more weighted goals were completed or if there’s more to be done. And attach deadlines to provide clarity. 

Celebrate and/or learn. 

A “set it and forget it” approach won’t work with cascading goals. You have to follow up and assess to ensure accountability. At our company, we do this by marking a goal as green if it was achieved or red if it wasn’t. This also offers managers and their teams an opportunity to celebrate and/or learn. (It’s important to note that managers should never be overly critical if their team produces a few red goals. In fact, we encourage a little red—it’s an indication that your team stretched itself and aimed high.)  

To double-down on that accountability, our merit increases are based on the outcome of those goals, as well as how well we embodied our company’s values of respect, family, and community.

Understanding how to align people around a bigger mission—and ensuring they know the role they play in getting there—is critical in building a culture where people can thrive. Using cascading goals is, in my experience, a most effective way to do it.  

If all goes well with a cascading goals plan and your company’s bigger objective is achieved, each person in your organization can feel proud, as they can clearly see how their efforts helped to make it happen. 

John Lamprinakos is the President & CEO of Screen Machine/Diamond Z, one of Crane Group’s portfolio companies.