Set Your Company’s Sights on Reaching
By Marsha Lindquist
“Great ideas need landing gear as well as wings.” ~C.D.
organization can’t have goals just for the sake of having goals,
because you think you should or because it sounds like a good idea. If
you create goals that are vague, confusing, and largely unreachable,
you’ll not get more than a glance from your employees when you post
them on the break room wall or send out a memo that gets filed away
(or thrown away) and forgotten by those who should be a part of
implementing them. Then, when goal-setting time comes around again,
the next quarter or even the next year, everyone in the organization
is understandably unenthusiastic about this waste of their time.
people are confused by goals that mean nothing to them, the result is
mediocrity. They simply can’t strive to reach fluffy, non-specific
goals like, “To be the premier provider of chimes in the United
States.” Overly general goals simply don’t tell you anything,
including when you’ve reached them.
everyone in your organization can get behind must have the following
specific action verbs: Strong goals contain powerful,
action-oriented verbs, not passive “to be” verbs. Think of
goals in terms of actions, like “to sell,” “to attain,”
“to perform,” “to dominate,” “to compel,” “to
overtake,” “to educate,” “to motivate,” etc. For
example, a company that sells chimes may say, “Our goal is to
sell chimes to the US market.”
Strategic goals must have a measurable
outcome, a way to know when you’ve reached the goal or how close
you came to reaching it. So our chime company may restate their
goal as, “Our goal is to sell 500,000 chimes to the US
market.” When you get to this goal, you’ll know it. Taking it
a step further, goals should also be date specific, so an even
better goal statement would be, “Our goal is to sell 500,000
chimes to the US market by the end of this year.” Now you have a
standard to measure against, and you give yourself more drive to
reach the goal.
If a goal is too lofty, and you know your
organization can’t get there, don’t set it as a goal, at least
for now. Realistic and attainable goals give you and your team
more credibility and are more likely to give you the participation
you want from your group. So if our chime company has never sold
more than 100,000 chimes in a given year, having a goal to sell
500,000 this year may be too reaching. A better goal may be,
“Our goal is to sell 250,000 chimes to the US market by the end
of this year.” This new goal is a stretch, but not so
far-reaching that employees feel it’ll never happen.
Make sense: Goals need to be clear and understandable to
in the organization. If the goals are significant only to
management but not to any of the employees, then they’re
ultimately useless. You simply can’t expect front-line workers
to get behind a goal like “To prioritize strategies and
implement key stakeholder buy-in initiatives.” Avoid this common
goal-setting problem by inviting key employees to participate in
the process of coming up with the goals. They can provide feedback
about whether the goals are real, attainable, and meaningful.
you’ve set these specific, meaningful, measurable goals, how do you
get your whole organization on board to achieve them? A surprising
number of organizations and managers have a hard time explaining what
they want and why they want it. They have an even harder time
motivating their people to give it to them! Therefore, take the
following steps before, during, and after strategic goal-setting to
Set and achieve
challenging goals for yourself. Be a positive performance role
model and share your personal goals with the rest of your group to
inspire them to be similarly committed. Modeling your own commitment
to the process will be the single most important way to get everyone
in your organization to enthusiastically embrace goal-setting efforts.
Be supportive and
express confidence in your workers’ ability to achieve the goals
you’ve given them. Management’s most positive expectations set the
stage for high performance and are an essential part of creating an
affirmative atmosphere in which everyone can reach goals. Make it
clear that for management to achieve its overarching goals for the
organization you need each employee’s supportive efforts.
employees to set their own goals and develop their own ways to
achieve them. Let them take personal responsibility for the strategies
to reach their goals so they don’t feel dictated to. Instead, ask
them to participate in the process and take ownership of their part in
specific feedback and let them give you the same while your
organization is reaching for goals. If you see results in what
they’re doing, take the time to give them positive encouragement. If
you notice commitment is flagging, discuss this with them and offer
suggestions to get them back on track.
and seek balance. Be ready
to adjust goals as necessary as new information becomes available. If
your marketplace changes, you have to be able to react to that as soon
as you can, not wait and further complicate your reaction by delay.
What may be a good, specific goal today can become superfluous fluff
when you’re not paying attention. Be prepared to rephrase or reframe
goals as the marketplace changes, but also avoid changing goals too
frequently or on a whim; you’ll appear unfocussed, so you need to
strike a balance.
progress against the goals you’ve set up. Avoid a “let’s
wait ‘til we get there” attitude. If the goals are specific and
attainable, and you’re tracking your progress, everyone’s
excitement and interest in attaining the overall goal will be
sustained as they see various milestones being reached.
rewards at appropriate levels of recognition for having achieved
specific goals. This doesn’t necessarily mean monetary reward but
should at least be organization-wide acknowledgement of the part the
employee played in reaching goals. Your people will see you as fair if
the recognition goes beyond mere compliments to inclusion in the
success of the whole organization.
Make it a Goal to Set Good Goals!
If you like the idea of setting strategic goals, but it
hasn’t worked for your organization in the past, take a look at
those old goals and see if they were realistic, specific, measurable,
and translatable to everyone your organization. As you set about
implementing your new, more powerful goals, maintain a positive
atmosphere and excellent communication. When you do, you’ll see your
organization take flight to new heights.
Read other articles and learn more
about Marsha Lindquist.
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