Idea Box - Setting Goals Keeps Companies Focused
Most business owners want their company to be successful and grow. But few set concrete goals to help it make progress toward ultimate goals.
Date Posted: 11/1/2013
Do you have goals for your company? Have you ever taken the time to think them through and write them down? Many business owners and managers want their company to be successful and grow. But few actually have specific goals that they are working toward.
When setting goals, remember that you don’t have to limit yourself to ones related to profits. Good business goals can pertain to product offerings, employee development, innovation, company culture or anything else that can help improve a business. This does not mean that you should set goals in all of these areas at the same time. On the contrary, focusing on too many unrelated goals at one time can divide your attention and resources, resulting in halfway accomplishing some goals and not doing any of them well.
The first step in setting goals is probably the easiest. It is defining your long-term goals. Where do you ultimately want to see your company? But once that is done, don’t sit down and dash off a quick memo to all employees that says the company-wide goal is to become a Fortune 500 company. The next step – breaking those goals down into a series of actionable steps that all lead toward an end-goal – is what will make goal setting beneficial.
When setting goals for a business, business experts commonly recommend that they meet five criteria, represented by the acronym S.M.A.R.T. – which stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive.
Specific: Goals must be specific in order to provide direction. Avoid an ambiguous goal, such as “increase profits.” Instead, set a specific goal, such as having each salesman speaking with at least 10 potential new customers each month. Non-specific goals aren’t helpful because they leave you without an action plan.
Measurable: When goals are measurable, you have a way to see whether or not they are being met. A goal does not serve a useful purpose without a way to tell if it is being met.
Attainable: It is important to make sure that set goals are possible to meet, otherwise goal-setting is an exercise in futility. Critically evaluate your goals to make sure that it is possible to meet them within a specified time frame. Goals that are not achievable are not only a waste of time, but they can also demotivate employees when it comes to accomplishing future goals.
Relevant: Make sure goals line up with both current conditions and capabilities as well as long-term goals. Think through what the end results of all goals are to see whether they will contribute to reaching a long-term goal.
Time-sensitive: The timeliness of goals is important because ones with deadlines set five years, two years or even one year away are difficult for people to see as a current issue that should affect what they are doing today. Large goals should be broken down into smaller ones with deadlines set incrementally, providing motivation for progress to be made on a weekly or monthly basis.
Using these five criteria when developing business goals can ensure that they are not just vague ideas that cannot be put into motion. When goals fulfill these criteria, it will result in a concrete action plan for accomplishing the desired objective. Having well thought out goals ensures that everyone involved in a company knows what they are trying to accomplish and what they need to do to reach that goal.
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