An ambitious team or company goals are great ways to get the organization fired up at the beginning of the relevant period. But staff will understandably be let down—and bosses, shareholders, and other stakeholders will understandably get upset—if those goals aren’t consistently met. At the same time, setting goals that are underwhelming and easily achievable doesn’t exactly wow everyone when you predictably achieve them.
So how do you strike the right balance? Here are a few tips.
Use Available Metrics
Is increasing sales to $100 million next year realistic? What about reducing safety incidents by 50%? Or gaining 10 new solid sales references? Even if they are achievable, are these goals meaningful? That depends on the surrounding circumstances.
Without looking at available metrics, all of these goals are just numbers in a vacuum. Leaders should take into consideration both past performance and industry averages to help establish appropriate targets.
A goal, like any other destination, needs a good road map. It’s not enough to simply have an end in mind; you need to be able to chart out exactly how to get there. That might mean sub-goals to develop components of the plan, for example.
Similarly, don’t simply wait until the end of the period and hope the goal has been achieved. It’s crucial to have regular check-ins to determine progress and whether corrective action needs to be taken to escalate concerns or change course.
A champion is an individual within an organization who advocates for and helps push progress toward a goal. It should be someone with both authority and influence, as well as someone with a stake in the success of the goal.
Goals are a great way to keep organizations focused on the future while providing a framework within which to focus efforts. But goals need to be carefully thought out before they are advertised. Goals that are too easy to achieve are relatively meaningless and will fail to drive meaningful engagement, while those that are too difficult will result in regular, demoralizing failure.