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The Way You Set Your Business Goals Guarantees Failure

The Way You Set Your Business Goals Guarantees Failure

We’re almost two months through 2019. How is your business doing? Do you have your goals written down and visible? Are you making progress toward accomplishing those goals? Are you tracking that progress?

No business achieves success without clearly defined goals to guide decisions and actions. And those goals must be grounded in a meaningful and intentional purpose to make them stick. Clear goals, such as “complete launch plan for new service line by the end of Q1” provide the direction that leadership and team members need to align, commit and act.

Yet so few entrepreneurs prioritize the time to set goals, and even fewer maintain focus on goals that have been set.

A  recent Gallup study showed that only 22% of employees strongly agree that their organization’s leadership has a clear direction, and only 33% of employees are engaged. Without goals, team members flounder, unsure what success looks like or how to achieve it. They show up, punch the clock, keep themselves busy during the day, punch out and go home. And organizations suffer as a result, never reaching the level of success they could reach. If your company falls into the category of lacking direction and employee engagement, have no fear. Now’s the time to reset your course and take a more strategic approach to business planning.  By setting realistic, clearly defined, measurable goals and having a more clearly defined purpose for your business, you can start down this path today. Here are steps to start the process.

Define Your Purpose

As mentioned above, you must have a purpose behind your business goals. Every person on your team, no matter their position in the organization, needs to be clear on why they’re doing what they’re doing. On why their role, their project, their piece in the puzzle is necessary to get the organization to where it’s going. This is what enables everyone in the boat to paddle in the same direction at the same speed like a well-practiced crew team.

How do you determine your purpose? Here are some questions to begin the conversation:

  • What do we care about?
  • What brings us meaning, value, satisfaction and fulfillment?
  • Why does our company exist?
  • What promises do we make to our team members? to our clients/customers/patents?
  • What results do our clients/customers/patients care about?

When everybody knows the purpose of your business, it sets a universal standard for the direction you are moving. It also guides every conversation, commitment and action that every member of your team makes. Every initiative you and your employees look at taking on throughout the year can be compared to this purpose to ask the question, “Is this in alignment with our purpose, and does pursuing it take care of what we care about?” If the answer is “yes,” it makes sense to pursue further conversations to define goals around it. If the answer is “no,” drop it.

Operating in this fashion will set your business up to not only reach its goals but to have the best year in business it’s ever had. For your convenience, we have a handy worksheet you can download and use to help you along this process.

Use SMART Goals

Once you’re clear on your purpose and the initiatives that align with it, it’s time to get into goal setting. We recommend quarterly leadership team meetings where you look back at progress made on last quarter’s goals and set goals for the quarter ahead. This framework ensures everyone is on the same page as it relates to business direction and focus for the next three months, and also gives members of the leadership team a forum to voice their aspirations and concerns, and break apart issues standing in the way of accomplishing goals.

During these sessions, be sure you’re setting SMART goals. Specifically, SMART stands for:

  • Specific: Goals must be clear and well defined. Vague or generalized goals are unhelpful because they don’t provide sufficient direction.
  • Measurable: Include precise amounts, dates, etc. in your goals so you can measure your degree of success. Without a way to measure success, you miss out on the celebration that comes when you achieve something.
  • Attainable: Make sure that it’s possible to achieve the goals you set. Set realist yet challenging goals that require you to “raise the bar.” These bring the greatest satisfaction.
  • Relevant: Goals should be relevant to the direction you want to go in, and to your purpose.
  • Time-Bound: Your goals must have a deadline. When you are working on a deadline, your sense of urgency increases and achievement comes that much quicker.

Using this technique when defining your goals allows you to frame them in a way that ensures they’re clear, actionable, trackable and attainable. And once the quarter’s goals are set, don’t change them. This shows that your leadership team has a clear direction and is not wavering from it.

Make Progress Visible To Everyone

Once your goals are defined, communicate them to everyone in your organization. Following each quarterly leadership team meeting, hold an all-staff meeting where you report out on the three most relevant data points for each of the following:

  • Where you’ve been — successes and progress over the previous quarter
  • Where you are — important headlines
  • Where you’re going — newly set company priorities for this quarter 

And don’t stop there, or else it’s easy for goals to fall into the“out of sight, out of mind” category. Instead, visibly track progress toward reaching each goal, holding team members to weekly to-dos.

Aligning your team on your organization’s purpose and making sure everyone is focused on your goals can be challenging. These elements are essential to the growth and long-term success of your company. If you are looking for assistance in defining and aligning your goals, contact us today for a free, one-on-one, no obligation consultation.