Research suggests that the majority of small businesses do not set proper business goals. Furthermore, those that do often fail to keep track of them. Given the time it takes to establish realistic goals, this is not surprising. However, doing so will typically raise levels of success in the long term.
Set Short-Term Objectives
Having a long-term goal in mind is important. However, it can seem like an insurmountable task unless you can first work out the road map for getting there. Creating short-term objectives can help. Using the SMART method, these should be Specific (detailed), Measurable (use a figure or value, such as a sales figure or percentage), Actionable (lay out what needs doing, when and by whom), Realistic (challenging yet achievable) and Time specific (create and stick to deadlines).
Short-term objectives should have a narrower focus and break down into specific actions. Perhaps most importantly, they should tie in to long-term goals – a bit like a stepping stone.
Goals, whether long- or short-term, can only be achieved if everyone is working towards the same thing. Motivate employees by involving them in the goal-setting process. This not only gives them a degree of ‘ownership’ over the objectives, but it also ensures everyone is on the same page. Encourage employees to oversee each other’s work so they can offer feedback and help out where necessary. This helps front-line staff to stay on track and communicate often. Weekly check-ins provide an incentive to move forward at a steady pace and also give employers the opportunity to discuss potential issues.
Keep Focussed and Organised
The larger the business, the more goals you will need to set and keep track of. In order to do this effectively, all members of the team will need to be committed and organised. Keep careful notes and check lists so focus remains on the objectives and distractions are kept to a minimum. For some companies, tackling one goal at a time can work better. Alternatively, assign teams to handle specific objectives simultaneously to avoid tasks being started and then not finished.
Set Up a Rewards System
Employees and their role within the goal-setting process are all too often forgotten. Rewarding employees can go a long way towards motivating them. This does not always need to be a financial incentive – a simple ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ can be equally well received. Employees who feel appreciated will invariably want to work harder than those who feel their effort are overlooked.
In order to ensure goals are not conflicting, it is essential to be consistent. Organisations must look at the bigger picture to ensure goals are compatible with each other. For example, achieving 100% customer satisfaction is possible, but only on the understanding that more will need to be spent in areas such as customer services, so a goal of having the highest margin will not be possible alongside this. A choice must be made. This decision will be individual to the organisation.