Depending on your personality type, you might not categorize setting your annual business goals as exciting or adventurous. The yearly charge of establishing goals can easily become just another mundane task to be completed before Dec. 31. Or, even worse, it can be a demoralizing exercise if you seem to fall short each year.
Goals need to be practical
Doing something just for the sake of doing it is a waste of time – and in today’s business environment, you can’t afford to waste time. As a leader, you have to find a way to create goals that blend the visionary facet with the functional aspect, and there are three key ways you can accomplish that.
Look Beyond the Goal
A well-crafted, well-thought-out goal is a wonderful thing, but if you leave it at that, you’re going to fail. A Forbes article from earlier this year explained it like this, “The value of the goal is not the goal itself, but the determination of the action steps most likely to lead to achieving the goal.” You must establish an action plan for each of your goals, and that plan has to incorporate every department and employee in your business.
This means that you need to go beyond just posting the company goals in the break room and announcing them at the end-of-the-year party. You need to break them down so that each division, each department within those divisions, and each and every employee in those departments have a specific and measurable part to play in achieving the goals. It will require some additional work, as well as cooperation and collaboration among management, but this is the only way to convert your dream into reality.
Recognize Your Limitations
In case you haven’t realized it yet, the phrase “you can achieve anything” isn’t completely true. Everyone, and every company, has limitations. A wise leader will recognize this fact, assess both strengths and weaknesses, and then make educated, achievable goals. As that Forbes article pointed out, “Some goals are not achievable.” And unachieved goals don’t mean a missing checkmark at the end of the year. When you set goals that have no possibility of being met, you do two things. First, you discourage and disengage everyone in your organization. Second, you put your business at risk by wasting valuable time and resources. The combination of those two consequences is enough to cripple, and even destroy, the best of companies.
Break It Down
Once each area and individual in the company has their own unique action plans, you’ll need to break it down even more. “Set your goals incrementally, with short-term plans that take steps toward the larger things you want to complete,” recommends a Fox News Small Business report. That means you pinpoint exactly which tasks are essential to achieving the goals, and then narrow it down to what needs to be accomplished in the year, each quarter, each month, each week, and each day. This is ultimately where the rubber meets the road and how you make your goals realistic and timely.
Setting goals can result in some amazing accomplishments, but you have to do more than slap your top three wishes on some letterhead. Crafting goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely takes effort. The outcome, however, is well worth it. At the very least, you’ll find yourself with more motivated and engaged employees, and, at the very best, you’ll achieve your dreams and enjoy all the rewards that come with them.