In the past, I have been part of a lot of goal setting activities. In my time in formal business environments, goal setting was an annual activity we did at budget time. After many years of doing this, it became a rote activity, and it became easy to lose sight of why it was so important. Now that I work with clients who are sometimes setting goals for the first time, I recognize why goal setting is the key to success.
- You can’t hit a target you can’t see. If you don’t know what you are shooting for, you will have a small chance of hitting it. Stating a specific goal with numbers and dates gives you something to aim at.
- Everyone sees the same picture. When you pull together your team’s work around a goal, they recognize what needs to be done. Setting specific goals gives everyone a clear vision and focus.
- Writing down goals dramatically increases your chances of achieving them. Everyone knows how powerful accountability can be. When we have told someone we intend to do, we feel more committed. Also, a written document provides a tangible reminder of our intentions and commitments to come back to after we get caught in the daily whirlwind.
- Goals are signposts – not sticks. Goals inform you if you are achieving the results you want. They tell you if you need to make adjustments or if you are doing OK. They are not sticks to beat yourselves and other people with.
- Goals make you creative. Once you have written a goal down, you have to figure out how you will achieve it. If it is a challenging goal, you may have to get out of your comfort zone and think of new approaches to get there. If you don’t have a goal, you may just float along and never challenge yourself to get to the next level. Goals push you.
- Goals are servants – not masters. Goals are tools to help us get the results we want. It is not necessary to damage your business or your relationships to achieve a goal. If a goal is not achievable or reasonable – change it. Don’t make it just another stressor in your organization. Chalk it up as a learning experience and set a goal that works.
I advocate setting goals and think they are essential tools in getting results in your business. I believe that being serious about hitting goals spurs your team on to better performance. There is hardly a more powerful team-building action than setting and achieving challenging goals together. However, the wrong mindset can make them a negative for you and your team. Make sure they are achievable and controllable by your team and that they see them as defining the next level instead of a judgment of their worth or effort.