If an organization is built only to make money, it’s rare they grow as quickly as its leaders would like. The most successful goal setting includes long- and short-term benefits, innovation, employee retention, or service offerings. Anything that will enhance your business can be a goal.
Stephanie Vozza, contributor to Entrepreneur, quotes Oliver Burkeman the author of “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking,” in a recent article. Burkeman says chasing after goals can often backfire.
For instance, take a look at General Motors. They were losing customers and profits to their Japanese competitors in the early 2000s. An executive set a goal to recapture 29 percent of the American auto market and, to demonstrate their commitment, they wore pins with the number 29.
“The plan not only failed, it made things worse,” says Burkeman. “Executives doubled down on doing everything it took to get to that number. They were funding discount schemes that sent the organization off track. That’s what can happen when you’re focused on the outcome instead of the process.”
Five Tips for Successful Goal Setting
Vozza shares how businesses can set goals that move their business forward.
Often we become obsessed with hitting a goal, so we exclude other options, like General Motors did.
Produce both long- and short-term goals that are specific, attainable, challenging, measurable, and value-driven. That way you are still working towards a target, but you have a series of sub-goals to meet along the way.
Become Uncomfortable with Uncertainty
Burkeman says, “Goals should be used more like a guide or compass, moving you in a direction but not a specific destination.”
It’s fine to move forward to an area of uncertainty. Setting goals is an ongoing process, markets change, and the economy and sales fluctuate so take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Goals can act as a safeguard during slumps, and when business is booming they help maintain and increase the good times.
You might set yourself up for failure if you aim for goals that are too high. Unrealistic goals can create tension, frustration, and sometimes animosity among your team when they are pushed beyond their limits.
If you set goals too low, you risk inactivity and a waste of resources. Burkeman suggests to set process goals instead of outcome goals. For example, if you want to write a book, set a goal to write a certain number of words a day.
Ask yourself why you are in the game and make certain your goals are aligned with that reason. Reevaluate your goals as often as needed to ensure you are on track. As your business grows, alter your goals and make changes to be sure they are still relevant and attainable.
Each time you complete a short-term goal, reward yourself with an indulgence of your choice.
Goals are a steppingstone to an end result. Setting them doesn’t ensure success, but it does allow you to plan for the future. There is no downside to setting goals or projections for your business. It gives you and your team a target and ensures your efforts are focused.
How often do you reassess your goals?