Goal Epidemic

by Howard Shore, Date: Nov 12, 2009

Goal Epidemic

Are you setting goals for yourself and/or your organization with conviction? Even worse, are you part of the audience at large that does not make a habit of setting goals? If I were to audit all the goals you set for yourself and your organization for the last 5 years, what percentage did you achieve? If you have success rate of less than 90%, you need to read this article.

Goals need to be mandatory targets rather than the desires or dreams they appear to be today. Too often I see leaders and their people establish goals without real commitment to attainment. They put goals in their business plans and don’t give them another thought until next year – when they set their goals again. This creates a culture of “I’ll try.” When you ask someone to do something, and they tell you, “I’ll try,” that usually means “forget about it” in a nice way.

When goals are mandatory you have a different mindset. The response “I’ll try” switches to “I must.” At that point amazing things can happen. We are resourceful creatures when we want to be. We find time that did not exist  (or in other words, we stop wasting time). We reprioritize our tasks to focus on those things we deem more important. We find smarter ways to do things. In the end, we find ways to get things done one thought could not be done.

One of the reasons it is so hard to make the shift toward “failure is not an option” is that there are too many goals. In addition, not enough thought has actually been given as to which goal(s) matter most. For example, it is common for an organization to have a revenue growth goal and to have a lot of little sub-goals to achieve it. A better approach is to ask the question, “What is the one thing, if addressed, will have the biggest impact on accelerating revenue growth?” It is not an easy question, yet once answered it can be the focus of an entire organization. And one must be careful to not lose sight of the goal because it is not uncommon to identify the “one thing” only to have management throw little meaningless pet projects at their people, inadvertently preventing the most important project from getting done.

Once you have clarity around your most important goals you must establish data/metrics and meeting rhythms to drive the results. Data and metrics provide clarity and foresight to know that your goals are on track and that everyone involved is doing their part. Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings, when well done, help to drive the desired outcomes. Effective team meetings provide communications clarity. They embrace the power of focused collective intelligence and leverage the power of peer pressure. The results are the ability to maximize opportunities and relieve bottlenecks quickly and effectively.

In the end, if you are not achieving over 90% percent of the goals you set, you should invest some time in understanding how you approach goals. The following may help you determine why you are not achieving more of your goals:

  • When you set goals are they mandatory?
  • When you define your goals are they specific enough?
  • Is your goal measurable?
  • When you set a goal do you write it down?
  • Do you communicate goals to everyone who has a role in achieving them?
  • Do you let everyone know how they contribute to the goal?
  • Do you identify and address all obstacles to your goal?
  • Do you have detailed action plans on how you will achieve your goal?
  • Do you review weekly and monthly basis to see that those plans are being followed and hold people accountable for achieving them?
  • Is there any consequence for not achieving the action plans?
  • Are your goals achievable and realistic?
  • Do you have a specific target date for your goal?
  • Are your goals in alignment with each other?

Review our website to understand how an executive coach or business coach can help you increase the success of your career and business, or contact Howard Shore at 305.722.7213 or shoreh@activategroupinc.com.