Organizations use strategy and goals to move a business forward.
However, this is all dependent on how well goals are achieved.
Well written SMART goals lay out the framework and accountability for goal completion to support managing employee performance.
However, there are barriers inherent in many organizations that limit their ability to achieve goals – and ultimately strategy.
When organizations are aware of these common barriers, they can put processes in place to avoid these common pitfalls.
5 Barriers to Achieving Business Goals
1. Changing Strategy
Organizations should be continually assessing performance to keep pace with today’s business environment.
This continual assessment can have an impact on long-term strategy and should be considered when developing a strategic plan and organizational goals.
If the market dictates a change in strategy, goals should be adjusted to reflect that change.
2. Decision Making Process
It is unfortunate, but it is common for goals to be held up by the decision-makers themselves.
When a pivotal decision, that needs to be made before a goal can be completed, is held up by the manager who has the decision making authority, it delays the entire process.
For example, let’s say there is a department goal to change vendors for payroll services by the end of the 3rd quarter.
The accounting manager gets bids and negotiates with three different vendors, presents the bids to her director but the department director doesn’t give the final approval to move forward.
In this instance, the accounting manager has taken the goal as far as she can so she should not be held accountable for the goal not being completed.
However, the department director who holds up the process is the person responsible for the goal not being completed and should be held accountable at the end of the goal period.
3. Lack of Resources
Accomplishing any goal is dependent on three things – people, time, and money.
There needs to be someone responsible for completing the goal and that person has to have the time and budgeted resources to work on the goal.
For example, if the marketing manager has a goal to revamp the organization’s website with a new logo, look and feel by the end of the 2nd quarter, but does not have the budget dollars to pay a designer and webmaster, their ability to achieve that goal will be hindered.
This is why it is important to incorporate annual goals into the budgeting process to ensure the resources are available to support the completion of the goal.
4. Unclear Expectations
Goals should be written using the SMART model because this format, by design, creates very clear expectations.
When goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely there can be no confusion about what exactly needs to be done to accomplish the goal.
For example, if a purchasing manager has a goal of researching new phone plans (not very specific) as opposed to having a goal of reducing phone expense by 10% by the end of 20XX, the second goal is very clear on what the expectation is in a measurable way.
5. Perceived Priority
Sometimes goals are the main focus at the beginning of the year but as the months go by the attention and chatter slows.
Achieving goals needs to be kept at the forefront by continuing to have conversations about them, or it may be perceived that the goals are no longer important.
Goals should be discussed on a regular basis until they are achieved.
The difficulty in managing any organization is balancing the day-to-day responsibilities with the time and attention needed to achieve annual goals.
This tender balance can be a challenge in today’s faced-paced environment but needs to be a priority.
Otherwise, another year will go by without moving the organization a little closer to achieving its long-term strategy and ultimately its mission!