It’s that time of year when we look to get fit, lose weight, and in general dump our bad habits for good ones. You know this is all-too-true if you are a gym-goer – workout facilities are at their peak usage in January of each year.
And while it’s great that everyone uses the new year to improve their lives, many (dare we say, most!) of us fail to follow through past the first month or so, and soon fall right back into the same routine with the same bad habits. (And we know this is true as those same gyms that were packed in January are visibly more empty by March.)
Perhaps it should be no surprise that we see the same thing in business.
January brings a surge of companies that are going to improve and do things better – likely more strategically – in the coming year. By March, they are back to reacting to things going on around them and have stopped being proactive. They have abandoned their bigger-picture vision – so net-net, nothing has changed. The extreme cases even lead to some of these companies filing for bankruptcy and shutting their doors.
Where did they go wrong? They set goals – even “SMART” goals as we know them – and then….it just all fell apart. It is all very predictable.
It’s not that companies and people aren’t setting goals, it’s that they don’t lay out the process and path necessary to get to their desired objective.
Here’s how to not fall into the “goal set and fail” cycle:
1. Stop setting random goals: If you’re in a leadership role, this falls to you. You need to build the vision and strategy and define where you’re going to take the company.
Take the time to build a good vision and strategy that you’ll stick with for at least the next year or two. If you allow everyone at the field level set their own goals with no direction from you – you’re bound to end up nowhere. And I’d suggest moving to an Objective: Key Results (OKR) format for goal setting. [If that’s new to you – take a look at Measure what Matters by John Doerr and learn how companies achieve more with OKRs.]
2. Look at the steps between you and the goal: Being an entrepreneur, I have people all the time telling me they’re getting into the business like we did. I congratulate them and ask about their approach, methodology, measurements, tools and structure – and then I get a deer in the headlights look.
Why is this the common reaction? Everyone is good at setting that BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) – but no one then looks at the process and steps between now and then. Instead, take the time to outline where you’re at today and where you want to go. Look for knowledge gaps in the process and determine how you’ll fix them (assign to people on your team, bring in outside help, etc.).
3. Measure it: It’s crazy, but we’ve seen companies put together very good and extensive plans and not measure their progress. Nope, nada in terms of quantifying results.
These are the business people who get to the end of the year and realize they’ve missed revenue goals, ignored new business opportunities and done nothing in terms of process improvement. The reason we use OKRs is that when they are done right, you and your team are constantly measuring the Key Results (on a monthly basis is ideal). The other reason OKRs are so effective is that everyone pulls in the same direction and has a piece of the responsibility to achieve the overall goals. So together, the team truly DOES accomplish much more.
It’s not too late to revise your business goals for the new year. At ECS, we thrive on helping companies achieve business success. We do it by understanding your ultimate goal(s), and then building the path to get you there. And, we are sure to follow the three points outlined above.
Still struggling to make your goals a reality? Then give us a call and we’ll put our team to work for you – either as a CXO (aka outsourced) partner or as a business transformation team.
Bill Morrow – email@example.com – 610-310-6707