Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
We are finally getting ready to put the year 2020 in our rearview mirror. I can’t imagine anyone who will be sad to say goodbye to this devastating year.
Hopefully, you have begun looking forward to a new year and dreaming about what could be with your business as we say goodbye to this pandemic, shutdowns, and social distancing.
Business planning involves dreaming about the future and setting a course to take your business to where you envision it being.
This involves creating a mission, vision, and values statements translated into a strategy and strategic plan.
Implementing a strategic plan involves writing actionable goals.
A reader asked me, “what are some of the mistakes organizations make with goals and goal setting?”
I think that is a great question! Let’s start with answering the question of why organizations set goals.
Goals are basically an avenue for organizations to get to where they want to go.
This roadmap helps to achieve strategy and, ultimately, vision.
If there are no goals, how do you know where you are going, or more importantly, how do you know if you ever get there?
Without goals, organizations respond to what happens to them instead of setting their own direction.
10 Common Mistakes Organizations Make When Setting Goals
1. Failing to Write Goals
Set aside some office time once a year to establish goals – an important first step.
A goal process looks at where the organization is and what it wants to achieve over the next 12 months.
Goals should be written with the SMART goal model, and accountability should be assigned to complete goals.
2. Being Unrealistic with Goals
Goals need to be attainable. This means not biting off more than you can chew when setting goals.
Overzealous goals can be a source of discouragement when they are not accomplished.
Goals should be realistic and attainable.
Taking small baby steps will achieve more results than having written grandiose goals that never go any further than the paper they are written on.
3. Not Considering the Global Business Strategy
One of the keys to effective goals is to have them align with business strategy.
Every goal in the organization should align directly with the global business strategy and, ultimately, the strategic plan.
Failing to align goals with strategy often results in wasted valuable resources of people, time, and money.
For instance, let’s say your business understands that engaged employees are key to success. Then, you would want to create goals that focus on improving the employee experience.
4. No Designated Resources to Complete Goals
A lack of resources is a common pitfall to goal attainment. Resources are defined as people, time, and money.
It is important for organizations to budget toward the vision to make sure there are the necessary financial resources available to complete goals.
There should also be a discussion about who and when goals will be completed.
For instance, if your business is adding a new service for customers, ensure the resources are available for employees to perform that service.
If the responsibility to perform a new service is given to an employee, make sure you review that employee’s job description and eliminate job responsibilities to free up the necessary time to perform the service.
5. Not Stepping Out The Process
Goals can be overwhelming unless they are mapped out in a step-by-step process.
Break each goal into actionable steps to establish the day-to-day activities that work toward accomplishing the goal.
It’s difficult to complete a goal of Improving Employee Engagement without articulating the steps to get there.
6. Not Assigning Responsibility
Every goal needs to have someone assigned to it and accountable for completing it. If no one is accountable, it is easy to lose focus on the goal.
Assign accountability and determine due dates to keep goals on track.
For instance, let’s say you have a goal to Improve Employee Engagement. Make sure someone is responsible for achieving that goal by adding the goal to their job description.
Let’s face it: everyone is busy.
The urgency of the day-to-day matters can distract from goals, making it easy to put them on the back burner.
Make goal completion a priority that is driven from the top of the organization.
For instance, senior leadership should regularly talk about goals so employees understand the importance of getting them done.
8. No Performance Management Process
Structured performance management processes help organizations complete goals.
Managing employees who do the work is an important part of business management and a critical aspect of goal completion.
For instance, it is the manager’s responsibility to meet with staff and ask for status updates on goals.
9. The Feel Good Wears Off
Writing goals is always a feel-good experience.
Seeing goals written on paper makes you feel like you are accomplishing something.
The challenge comes when the feel-good is gone, and there is a tendency to jump on the next trend, fad, or good idea.
Maintain a focus on goals until they are completed – unless the global business strategy has changed, and the goals are no longer relevant.
10. Poor Planning
Goal planning should be done on an annual basis.
The task can feel overwhelming but can go quickly and smoothly with proper planning.
These planning sessions should be strategic and look at where the organization is and where it hopes to go in a certain period of time.
Bring relevant data to the planning session to give an accurate picture of where the organization is and what measurable goals can be targeted.
Goal planning should be closely aligned with an organization’s budgeting process.
It is always a good business decision to budget toward the vision.
For instance, let’s assume the organization manages based on a calendar year; goals and budgeting should take place in the fall.
If there is a fiscal year, this process should be a few months before the end of the fiscal year.
But Do We Really Have To Write Goals?
I’ve been asked, “can organizations be successful without goals”?
The answer is I am sure some successful organizations don’t go through a formal goal-setting process. However, organizations that strive to grow and implement strategy understand that setting goals is a structured way to get there.