Five Tips for Successful Goal SettingIf 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.

Meet Milestones

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.

Be Realistic

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.

Align Goals

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.

Reward Yourself

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?

How to Empower Your Employees to Become LeadersIn the rush of day-to-day operations, it’s easy to lose sight of factors that encourage fresh thinking from the people who know the business best—your employees. Many employees have the potential to grow and become leaders, another plus for your business.

Heather R. Huhman, founder and president of Come Recommended, gathered insights on employee empowerment from a variety of business leaders and shared them in this article in Smart Blog on Leadership.

Seven Ways to Empower Your Employees to Become Leaders

1. Listen to what employees say. When employees raise an issue relating to business processes or customer service, management should listen and take action on these issues. When employees see those issues addressed, they’ll continue making useful suggestions.“Soon these employees will become leaders in the workplace because they know the organization values their contributions,” says Josh Tolan of Spark Hire.

2. Encourage thinking that takes risks. It’s vital to create a culture where employees feel confident it’s OK to ask questions, suggest out-of-the-box ideas, and even take actions that might fail. “Out of that failure will come knowledge and longer-term success,” says Lynne Dixon,

3. Deploy clarity and trust. A company that seeks to empower its workforce must provide clarity to ensure employee actions are aligned with business goals. It must also work to establish trust with employees. “Clarity without trust produces inaction,” says Adam Robinson, CEO of Hireology. “Trust without clarity produces wasted effort.”

4. Establish and enforce strong workplace policies. When clear-cut, enforceable policies are in place, there’s no longer a need for micromanagement. “Workplace policies give employees the parameters they need to be creative, productive, successful, and happy at work,” says Clara Lippert Glenn, president and CEO of The Oxford Princeton Programme.

5. Create an inclusive workplace. Do you see leadership potential in your employees? If so, encourage them to offer their opinions and insights—and show you value their input. In a more inclusive environment, employees can grow as leaders. Such an environment “acts not only as a resource for management to help grow business, but also to promote employee growth as well,” says Shirley Engelmeier, CEO of Inclusion/INC. “Everyone wins!”

6. Make it OK to fail. In a more traditional workplace environment, employees believe if they take risks and fail, they’ll soon be out of a job. Empower employees so they know they have authority to fail. “Risk takers, by definition, gain followers—when successful—and having followers it's the definition of a leader,” says Bruce Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing.

7. Lead with a sense of balance. In an empowered work environment, success is a journey, not the destination. Management leads with a sense of balance—“giving challenges but offering support; accepting failure but holding individuals accountable for success; and trusting their people while expecting respect in return,” says Russell Schramm, vice president of talent acquisition for the Americas, Philips.

These CEOs and top executives agree: Empower your employees and your business will quickly overtake its competitors and gain a stronger foothold in the marketplace.

How do you empower your employees?

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