I enjoyed meeting with my new team for two days this week. It’s an exciting time – lots of opportunity, lots of unanswered questions. One of our conversations was about our goals. As we talked, I was reminded why I love setting goals.
Goals affirm direction and priority – Assuming you have a limited number of goals, setting them will establish what’s most important. As an example, if you have a sales goal, your team will understand the priority you place on sales building.
Goals clarify aspiration – If you have a goal to increase sales by 2%, that communicates one message to your team. If your goal is to increase sales by 20%, that communicates something entirely differently. Your goals speak volumes to your team.
Goals help people keep score – People love to keep score. Are we winning or losing? Are we on pace or not? Without goals, these questions are hard to answer. Keeping score can also increase the fun factor. If you don’t believe me on this one, try bowling with a curtain in front of the pins - no scorekeeping, no fun.
Goals create urgency – By including a time element in your goals (e.g., 10% increase by year-end), this combats inertia and inactivity. A deadline creates energy and movement.
Goals bring out the best in people – The key to this benefit is setting the right goal. If the goal is too aggressive, people will not invest themselves fully in the pursuit of it for fear of futility. If the goal is not aggressive enough, it may be looked at as trivial and insignificant. This is why goal setting is more of an art than a science.
Goals enable accountability – Once a goal is established, it can serve as a catalyst for some extremely productive conversations. When goals are not being met, this can be an early warning sign that adjustments may be necessary. Are the current plans being executed well? If so, changes to the strategy and/or tactics may be in order.
Goals give you something to test your strategies against – This is one of the most valuable things a goal can do for you. Once established, you can use your goal to launch this mental exercise… Ask yourself: “Assuming flawless execution of each of the strategies we created, what are the chances we’ll achieve our goal?” If your confidence is not high, you can either lower the goal or change the strategies.
Goals, once accomplished, give you a great reason to celebrate – This is one of my favorite reasons to set goals. Work is hard. Work is never-ending. Most teams don’t celebrate enough. Never miss the chance to celebrate when you hit the mark!
Having said all the above, I acknowledge that not everyone is a goal setter. My friend Bobb Biehl talks about two other types of people: Problem Setters and Opportunity Seekers. I’ll write about these in my next post.[GLS_Shield]
Why do you set goals?