HR Essentials | SMB Matters

4 Effective Ways to Take the Struggle out of Setting and Achieving Corporate Goals

July 1, 2016

Establishing corporate goals and aligning all employees to them is critical to driving an accountable, performance-based culture. But let’s find out if you are unknowingly one of the many small businesses that are not utilizing corporate goals effectively. 

Annual goal-setting is an important business process that’s most impactful when implemented throughout your entire organization. Once you set your goals for the year, they can – and should – be broken down even further into quarterly or monthly goals. 

While we are nearly halfway through 2016, it is not too late for your business to set annual goals for this year and to break them down into quarterly and monthly goals. It’s also a great time to start planning ahead for next year. The four goal-setting strategies I’ve outlined below can help you create and implement effective business goals moving forward. 

1) Focus on setting meaningful goals
The key to setting meaningful goals is to ensure they align with your business objectives. The challenge here is that some things you consider very important may not actually drive business outcomes. Your job is to avoid mission creep. While some goals may be important in general, you cannot allow them to influence the foundation of your business goals unless their achievement directly results in business success. For example, you may want to achieve a high score in a regular customer satisfaction survey. But unless this survey also gives you insight into areas you need to improve and unless you’re able to actually address these areas for improvement, scoring high on this survey may not be a good business goal. 

2) Be SMART about setting goals
Ambiguity is the #1 killer of effective goals. If you aren’t going to do your homework and set specific, quantifiable goals, you are really just wasting everyone’s time. I use and recommend the acronym SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound) for goal-setting. Make sure each goal you set is structured by what the quantifiable outcome(s) will be and by what date they will be reached. In short: what will you achieve by when?

It is important for executives to embrace facts. Data is your friend. Too often, teams jump to conclusions without having accurate or enough information. When goals are based on data, everyone in the organization is on the same page, decisions can be made more cohesively and outcomes can be effectively managed on a daily basis. When goals are set that simply ask for “good” (qualitative) outcomes, you have no way of really measuring if you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Additionally, your employees will not be clear on what is expected of them. 

3) Don’t keep your goals secret
All of your employees should be aware of your organizational goals all of the time. Make sure your goals are clearly stated. Express them in terms that everyone understands and post them in a place (like your company intranet) that all employees can access. Transparency creates accountability from management to every single employee.

4) Regularly review goals and achievements
Every member of your company should think about goals every day, not just at the end of the year or during their performance review.

As much as possible, progress toward your company’s goals should be publicized throughout the organization and on an ongoing basis. Goals that fall behind also should be highlighted and action should immediately be taken to get back on track. If you review your goals frequently, you will be able to nip problems in the bud long before their due dates. 

In summary, I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to make corporate goals part of your company culture and how crucial it is to use them to drive your business objectives. As an executive, I urge you to set aggressive, yet realistic and measureable goals. It is your job to instill a culture of transparent and ongoing review of progress toward achieving them. Frequent reviews can be stressful, so make sure that progress on major milestones is recognized and celebrated. After all, business success should be rewarding and fun for everyone!

This communication is for informational purposes only; it is not legal, tax or accounting advice.

By Burton M. Goldfield

Burton M. Goldfield is President and CEO of TriNet

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