As I begin each New Year, I undergo what has become an annual ritual: a spreadsheet of objectives and goals for the upcoming year. This year, I realized setting goals and objectives is not enough. Measuring my progress against those goals is probably just as important as setting the goals themselves. So I first have to ask myself, what are the top three objectives or goals for my organization this year and just as significant, what are my top three objectives and how do I measure my progress throughout the year.
If we don’t set goals for our business it becomes similar to driving without a road map. You’ll end up in Albuquerque when you were trying to get to Miami. When I create my yearly roadmap, I set three goals a year (no more than four) because once there are more than that, it becomes overwhelming and very little tends to be accomplished.
No one can tell your team what goals should be a priority; that has to be decided on as a unit. If everyone goes in their own direction throughout the year, companies tend to see little progress. Teams have to work together and understand the direction needed to be taken to be successful. The first thing that must be done is to decide what the important goals for me and my team are that we would like to achieve within the upcoming 12 months. Talk to your team, enlist their ideas and come to a consensus on what is motivating and important. Motivation shouldn’t be a dictatorial action, there has to be “buy in” to the goal.
A great guideline for choosing realistic goals is the S.M.A.R.T. Goal standard. Make sure your team’s goals are:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Relevant
T = Timely
Once you have established those goals, write them down. After you have them written down and have achieved “buy in” from the team, create an action plan. Remember “buy in” doesn’t have to mean every person gets their way. What it means is every person understands and accepts the direction the team will be taking throughout the year. My favorite line is “can you live with that?” rather than “do you 100% agree with the goal?”
Without a written plan of action, it becomes impossible to measure your progress throughout the year. A great way to measure your progress and to keep the team on task, is to set up “two week stretch” meetings to discuss accomplishments and set attainable goals for the upcoming two weeks. Breaking down your goals into attainable segments makes attaining them that much more realistic.
As I consider what goals my team and organization should tackle in the upcoming year, I then apply the same process to my own goals. Again I can enlist outside help in thinking about what needs to happen in my own life over the next year. Good decisions are rarely made in a silo. Reach out and talk to those who know you best and gain valuable insight in the appropriate direction for you. Set your goals, write them down, create a plan on how you will achieve them and then review them throughout the year.
So here is my challenge to you…
If you haven’t thought about and written down your goals for 2012 – then get to work! If you have, I would love to hear what they are and how you plan to achieve them.
Susan Ruhl, founder of OI Partners-Denver, has developed a sharp eye for how both job seekers and leaders alike get sidetracked with inefficiencies, cross- purposes and miscommunication – and how they can retool for a sleeker, smoother, strategically focused career. Her quick wit, combined with more than two decades of operational and management experience, have made her a highly successful consultant.
2012 text pushing down 2011 image from Shutterstock