Don’t let your business goals go the same way as this year’s New Year’s Resolutions
Tuesday 23 January 2018
Goals are a great way to focus your business and to promote change. In this blog Mark McDermott considers how to set your goals to maximise the chance of success.
It’s now half way through January, and therefore the perfect time to reflect on the progress of your New Year’s resolutions. Have you managed to stay on track with that weight loss goal? Have you stuck to your new fitness plan? Or has that chocolate biscuit got the better of you? Whether your New Year’s resolution is currently on track or not, the mere act of setting a target is a great way to focus the mind and think reflectively. Likewise, businesses often use the New Year as a catalyst for change and an opportunity to re-set their own goals. However, like our own personal goals, business goals can sometimes fall by the wayside. This then begs the question – what separates the successful resolution and target from falling foul of that proverbial chocolate biscuit? How can we ensure our business goals are a success? And if your target is slipping away from you, what can be done to turn around the situation?
So why does setting goals matter?
Intuitively, we can all see the value of setting goals in terms of achievement and motivation - and academic research certainly backs this up. Work by Locke and Latham has identified four key reasons why goal setting impacts on performance:
Setting goals focuses the mind
Rather than be distracted by non-essential activities, clear goals identify which elements of an individual’s role are essential to achieving the company’s aims.
There is nothing more motivating than successfully achieving a goal. If a sales representative has a goal of 10 sales per month, when the standard is 8 – just imagine the buzz when these 10 sales are actually achieved.
Clear, objective goals help team members to persevere, despite perhaps having to overcome hurdles along the way.
Changes in behaviour
Well-set goals can help your team focus on positive outcomes and can help change entrenched behaviour. Which is all good for the personal development of your teams.
How to set effective goals for your frontline teams
For frontline managers, goal setting and supporting your people to achieve these aims is no easy task – get it right and you will reap the rewards. Get it wrong and you might see an underperforming, demotivated team with a high turnover.
Amy Gallo in her article “Making sure your employees succeed” provides some useful tips:-
Tie an individual’s goals to top-level business goals
Set a context for each of your team members and their personal goals. This is important for two reasons. Firstly, they can see the value of their individual contribution to achieving the organisation’s goals. And secondly, when a member of your team is required to make a decision between different courses of action, that person is in a better position to make a good decision.
Goals need to be measurable if they are to impact on performance. “Do better in your job next year” is unlikely to work, whereas “Increase sales by 10%” when supported by a number of specific actions is much more likely to be effective.
Set goals that stretch but are achievable
Ask each of your team members to provide you with a list of goals that they feel that they should personally achieve over the next twelve months. Then match this against the list of challenging goals that you feel an individual should achieve. Everyone in your team should be feel stretched but not overwhelmed by their personal goals – goals that are too easy can lead to a mediocre performance whilst goals that are perceived to be too difficult can result in people giving up.
Set milestones along the way
Small, early successes can help people work towards achieving very challenging goals. By setting well-planned milestones, frontline managers can help their team achieve their long-term goals successfully.
Frequent planned and ad-hoc support is important. Your team members will encounter problems along the way – but early intervention and support can get them back on track.
Goals should be both objective and measureable, so it is clear and non-negotiable whether or not a goal has been achieved.
Management by Objectives
The well-known mnemonic, SMART, developed by Peter Drucker, is a useful checklist for effective goal setting:
• Time defined
However, the SMART approach does underplay the role of the frontline manager in helping their teams achieve their goals. By monitoring milestones, providing on-going support, workplace coaching and, where necessary, challenging underperformance, managers can make an important contribution to their teams in achieving their goals.
This approach is relevant for both business and personal goals– writing SMART objectives is a great way to ensure both personal and business success.
If you would like to discuss goal setting and developing the skills of your frontline managers, please do get in touch. We would love to hear from you.
Building a practical useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. A 35 year odyssey
Edwin A. Locke Gary P. Latham, America Psychologist 2001
“Making sure your employees succeed”
Amy Gallo, HBR 2011