If your company doesn’t have goals, you have a problem

Employees with concrete goals improve their performance by 18 per cent in output

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David FullerFor many years my company floated along without concrete goals, and then one day I came across a sign that said, “Double your Sales.” I posted it above the door in the office that was used by all the staff.

I did not actually think much about it, but every day I would see the sign multiple times as I crossed the threshold. Over the next five years, we doubled our sales three times and ended up with a multi-million-dollar company that was generating significant profits.

Unfortunately, most companies and fewer non-profit organizations set concrete goals. Instead, they follow the “Do Your Best” model, where employees and divisions do their best and hope everything works out. In most cases, it does work out somewhat. However, research shows that when employees have concrete goals set out for them, their performance increases by 18 per cent in output.

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After floating along with my sign-over-the-door model for a few years, I attended a seminar at a trade show one day where I learned how to do 90-day planning. Upon returning, I started implementing 90-day planning with my leadership team and lo and behold, incredible things happened. Almost immediately, we achieved in three months what seemed unfathomable in a year. My leaders were engaged and had concrete plans that they committed to implementing.

Studies have repeatedly indicated that goal setting was particularly effective if the goal was: (a) difficult, (b) set publicly, and (c) a group goal. Yet many organizations get so caught up in the day-to-day that they don’t feel they have time to set long or short-term goals.

As a business and sports coach, I know from experience that when companies and teams do not have goals, motivation is lacking. Without a vision of somewhere to go, individuals within the organizations feel lost, unmotivated, and dissatisfied. The result is poor individual performance and dismal team accomplishments. The fact your organization is underperforming and unable to hold on to talent could be directly related to the lack of vision and achievable goals communicated with the team.

So what can you do?

  1. Define the purpose/mission of your organization and post it for all to see
  2. Come up with a long-term vision of where you want to go
  3. Set some long- and short-term goals
  4. Get commitment from your team to achieve the goals
  5. Have an accountability process where you evaluate how you are measuring up to your goals.

Goal setting isn’t brain surgery and shouldn’t be all that difficult, especially if you can use a template or get someone to show you how to do it. The results, however, are significant and can set your organization apart from the many others using the Do Your Best approach.

Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award-winning business coach and a partner with Pivotleader Inc.

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