Most organizations consider goal-setting to be a major component of the strategic planning process.
At THE STRATEGY EXPERT®, we prefer to focus less on what happens at the end of the strategic planning process (goal achievement) and more on the actions and behaviors that need to take place on an ongoing basis.
There is nothing that gets my attention more than walking into a sales department and seeing a number with a dollar sign posted on the wall as the goal for the week, month, quarter, year, etc. That posted number represents the expected output of all the participants related to the sales of the products or services during a given period.
I have three issues with this approach. First, when I ask employees what the strategy is for their department or area, they often incorrectly cite the goal as their strategy. “Our strategy is to generate $50 million in sales.” Fifty million dollars in sales is not the strategy; it is the anticipated end result IF the right strategy is selected; IF the right tactics are developed; IF the right team is in place and IF the internal and external environmental conditions are such to lead to $50M in sales.
Second, goals are limiting. Over the years I have noticed that as people get close to reaching their goals, they slow down. Often when they achieve their goals they really slow down or stop. They don’t want to set the bar too high – or the same performance will be expected for the next reporting period.
Third, what is considered “long-term” goal to one might be “short-term” goal to another. For a company such as Boeing, short-term might be 5 years. For Samsung or Apple, whose customers expect new product releases on a regular basis, “long-term might be 12-18 months.
Have you ever set a New Year’s Resolution, such as losing 20 pounds by spring break or summer vacation, only to not achieve the expected result? Had you set no goal at all but watched your diet each day, got plenty of exercise and made a few other lifestyle changes, you may have exceeded what might have been your original goal and lost 25 or 30 pounds.
Concentrate on the daily actions and behaviors that need to take place on a regular basis instead of the “goal” or what you hope to achieve at the end of the process. Let actions and performance drive your organization, not arbitrary goals that could be limiting or perceived differently by team members.