Business professionals and companies alike need to regularly set goals to ensure that they’re continuing to improve. Alignment between individual goals and company-wide goals provides the synergy to fuel long-term happiness and growth.
But goal setting is often easier said than done!
Start 2018 off right by using this guide to generate goals that are meaningful, attainable, and actionable.
Obviously, no one sets out to create a meaningless goal. However, if there isn’t true organizational value in achieving a goal, it is meaningless. This means that all goals should align with the overall purpose or direction of the company. It’s okay if this direction changes over the lifetime of the company, but at any given time, goals should thoroughly support the company’s mission. If you don’t have a clear picture of where your business is currently, you can’t set meaningful goals. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses and plan from there. This not only makes goals relevant, it also makes investing in them justifiable.
Another way to ensure that goals are meaningful is to make them measurable. Assign quantifiable metrics to goals to serve as a firm measure stick so that you can effectively communicate them and gauge their success. Instead of creating a goal of “Getting more leads,” aim to “Increase leads by 10% over the next 6 months.” This provides a firm baseline to evaluate success and make necessary adjustments to your tactics as you go.
Make them Attainable
The best goals are attainable. Now, this doesn’t mean that all your goals should be “cupcakes” that you can knock out in a couple of hours with very little work. However, it does mean that they should be relatively achievable. By setting goals that are reasonable, you’ll have the satisfaction of earning a win. The motivation that results is infectious, infusing positivity throughout your business to inspiring hard work and creativity.
Again, specificity is a crucial component because it makes goals attainable. A recent study found that 90% of the time setting specific goals results in higher performance.
Using the previous example, if you expect leads to increase by 3-4% during the first half of the year anyways, you may want to set the threshold for your goal at 10% because it will require that everyone work harder to reach it, but it’s still reasonable. Remember, being specific is crucial because if your goal is to “Get more leads” your sales manager may feel like the goal was accomplished if there’s even a few more leads over the prior month, whereas the business owner may consider it a failure if leads aren’t twice what they were previously. This is where measurability becomes important. If the goal is to “Increase leads by 10% over the next 6 months,” there’s no confusion over whether the goal was met. Furthermore, it gives perspective for analysis if goals aren’t met. For example, if leads increased by 9%, you can be assured that even though you didn’t hit your goal, significant progress was made and the business benefitted as a result.
While it may seem counterintuitive to set unrealistic goals, some industry speakers believe that the power of “big thinking” outweighs the hazard of failure. These people advocate for dreaming big at all cost because doing so requires new thinking and new methods that may produce unexpectedly positive outcomes. Even if you don’t actually set any “quack-y” goals, the exercise of thinking outside the box as if you’re going to do so removes one major obstacle to your success – you!
Remember, some of today’s most influential brands were born out of “long shot” ideas. That’s why the age-old adage of “It’s not the destination, it’s the journey” is still around.
Write them Down
Writing down goals results in commitment, which provides accountability among partners and employees. This is probably the most overlooked part of goal setting, that businesses of all sizes miss. Goals shouldn’t be discussed in closed meetings and then forgotten, they should be shouted from the rooftops.
When writing down goals, use firm language and be as specific as possible. Outline metrics that should be hit, timeframes, people or teams that will be responsible, approaches that will be used, etc.
Form a Plan
Once you know what your goals are, prioritize them and then formulate a plan for achieving them. Set reasonable timeframes to avoid overtaxing employees or needing to hire additional staff. Break goals into smaller, more manageable pieces wherever possible, and work on them continuously to ensure long-term success.
Kate Pierce is the owner of LionShark Digital Marketing LLC, a West Michigan internet marketing company. Her areas of expertise include Paid Search, Search Engine Optimization, Business Blogging and Web Copywriting. She lives in the Grand Rapids area with her husband and son and enjoys cooking, watching sports, and spending time together as a family. Like a true digital marketing expert (i.e. geek), she loves talking about current marketing trends… so don’t say you weren’t warned!