Leaders can’t set realistic goals unless they have a comprehensive understanding of the business itself, their target audience, and the staff driving everyday results. Like it or lump it, goal setting is as tied to team dynamics as white on rice. And without the right people in place, goals are merely dreams.
- Looking to diversify? Great. Do you have the funds and staff to support the expansion? If so, have you explained the vision, laid out a roadmap, set a budget, and delegated tasks in order to achieve the end result? If not, what are you waiting for?
- Interested in being more metrics-driven in 2018? Excellent idea. We hope you plan to subcontract an analytics guru or take the plunge and bring on a new hire. Expecting highly-creative staff to acquire a skill set that is completely foreign to them, or just take on another pile of work, is going to lead to pure disappointment.
- Planning to bring on new clients this year? Couldn’t be happier for you. But have you considered the team’s current workload and level of productivity?
What Do They Have in Common?
Companies like Apple, Google, Salesforce, Publix, Marriott, and St. Jude Children’s Hospital may have different business models, customer bases, and goals, but they’re all very successful and consistently rank high on the Best Places to Work. Why? Because, among other things, company leadership considers the team’s experience, strength, and limitations when planning ahead. This strategy allows decision makers to evaluate who or what is needed preferably before establishing annual targets. As a small business, I’d be setting myself up for massive failure if I just dictated company goals for the upcoming year and didn’t consider those three factors.
I can imagine some big wigs browsing this post and thinking, “My team doesn’t call the shots, I do. And if I say we’re going to hit a million-dollar initiative, then they’re going to perform.” And for large corporations where every employee is just a number, yeah, I can attest that tone holds true. Leaders shouldn’t have to roll back stretch goals that lead to profits, but they’re most certainly responsible for ensuring the right people are in place to achieve them. Besides, you catch more flies with honey, so it only makes sense to have employees engaged some way, some how from the onset of goal setting. Conduct a focus group, evaluate current processes, examine what changes could be made to improve efficiency, consider talent gaps within the team structure, and strive to align the right projects with the right people.
A Little Discomfort is Healthy
I’m of the mindset that a certain degree of professional discomfort is healthy. It pushes us past comfort zones so that we can learn new skills – cross training an editorial writer with social media content, administrative tasks, or team lead. But there’s a fine line between encouraging employee growth and steering them in a direction that will make their workday absolutely miserable. What does this have to do with goal setting, you ask? Again, without the right people in the right place, goals are merely dreams. Turnover rate, poor attitude, a lack of motivation, and low productivity are cues for management to address, not ignore. These problems don’t fix themselves and if you want to reach those goals, especially the lofty ones, then dig in and figure out the chemistry issue.
Check back for a follow-up post, as we receive feedback from fellow industry professionals about setting SMART goals.