Q: In order to grow our business I need to set some goals. What advice can you provide on the goal-setting process?
A: Goals are important to all businesses. They help focus your employees on achieving results important to the business. Careers and compensation are often linked to the level of goal achievement. But, if goal- setting is not done right, it can undermine the best companies.
The first step is to collect and analyze key data that relates directly to your customers. Learn from your past performance. Do your market research. Clearly state your needs and ensure everyone agrees that these really are needs. For instance, your need might be to fill some key, specific, open positions in your sales group.
Goals should inspire and guide action. If they are not clear and accurate, their purpose becomes blurred and they cease to be something you want to accomplish. Define them so well that employees know where the start and finish lines are located.
The specifics must be measurable. If not, you will not know where you are or whether you have finished. Your goal might be to hire 10 experienced sales employees between now and the end of the year.
Are your goals doable? They can be a stretch but employees need to know the reasons a goal is achievable.
The building blocks of goal-setting need to be logical and understandable.
Business owners should realize that not everyone may share their level of extreme commitment. Sure, top performers are often inspired by stretch goals. But goals that are clearly beyond a reasonable expectation of success are even worse than too-easy goals - they can actually damage your company's energy.
Goals need to be consistent with other current or envisioned goals. If not, retool before setting your goals in concrete. For instance, you might have a goal of increasing sales by 25 percent, and that's why you need the goal of increasing your sales staff.
Make goals your servants and not your master. It's important to strive to reach your company's goals, but if obstacles occur, treat them as learning opportunities and then make adjustments. Expect learning to be a major benefit of working to achieve goals.