Once again, we’re nearing the end of one year and the beginning of another, and many businesses are developing their strategic plans for 2011. In every organization, goal planning is an important part of moving forward, growing business, and taking the next step. But when you’re busy managing employees and an ever-growing workload, it’s easy to lose sight of your purpose. The goals you set out to achieve at the beginning of the year can get lost under the workload of tasks, meetings, and productivity roadblocks like e-mails and employee engagement issues.
Outlining your 2011 goals is only the first step to getting real results and accomplishing your company’s overall objectives. So, as you set aside time to review your business outlook and the goals of your company, don’t miss these steps to get the results you need from your 2011 goal planning.
Create SMART goals
As you begin to assess strategic plans for your company and evaluate how you need to grow your business in 2011, make sure that every goal you outline meets the SMART goals standard. A SMART goal is,
If you want to get real results from your annual goal planning, your goals need to be concise and clear. Vague, indefinite goals lead to misdirection and discrepancy between the activities of your employees and the vision of your company. It’s also important to create achievable and realistic goals to ensure your company and employees aren’t set up for failure from the get-go. So, whether your 2011 objectives include increasing company profitability, improving employee retention or both, create SMART goals to get real results from your team’s efforts this coming year.
Include your team in the process
Instead of a top-down approach to goal setting, consider developing your goals with your employees. Since your staff will be implementing many of the steps and processes necessary for achieving your company objectives, co-creating goals will increase their engagement and understanding of the importance and meaning of each goal. And, since they’re on the frontlines of your operations, your team could provide you with valuable insight on areas that need improvement like ways to help cut costs or increase your client base. Getting the input and feedback of your employees will help ensure that you’re establishing realistic and achievable goals with buy-in from your team.
Communicate determined objectives
Clearly communicating the established objectives with the entire company is an important step to getting the results you need. Make sure every employee knows and understands the company objectives and how their job relates. To help reinforce the determined goals, post them in every department and make sure the objectives are easily accessible on your intranet. Be sure to revisit them from time-to-time to keep them top of mind for everyone.
Implement department goals to achieve overall objectives
Once your company’s goals for 2011 have been established, it’s important that the goals of every department and individual support those objectives. This ensures that every member of your team is contributing to the company’s overall goals. Communicate the steps necessary for success. Prioritize and assign tasks that contribute to the objectives. Develop accountability. With every new program, meeting, or to-do list, ask “How will this impact and support the company goals?” Make sure everyone understands the importance of their role and how it relates to the organization. This will not only help boost employee engagement, it will help increase your team’s investment and focus.
Create incentives for accomplishing goals
A great way to ensure that everyone is focused on achieving the company’s outlined objectives is to establish incentives that encourage success. Incentives don’t have to be financial. Building a culture of appreciation and celebration when individual, department, and company goals are met can also be an incentive. Encourage and reward the hard work of your employees. Take time to celebrate your team’s victories. It helps to make the work meaningful for your employees. And, it’s an important step of the process and growth of the company you don’t want to miss.
Monitor and evaluate your progress
According to the fourth annual Staples National Small Business survey conducted earlier this year, more than 80% of those surveyed said they don’t keep track of their business goals. So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that 77% of respondents also said they had not yet achieved their goals in 2010. Continually monitoring and evaluating your progress is as important to strategic planning as goal planning itself. How can you know where you are or what you need to do to accomplish your goals if you aren’t tracking them along the way? Monitoring your progress will allow you to make the changes or adjustments necessary to achieve your objectives.
Taking the time to review your goals every few months or once each quarter also helps reinforce your team’s focus and creates accountability. So, meet with your staff to evaluate your progress and determine what challenges they’ve encountered. Track accomplishments so you can learn from your experience. It’s also a great way to show what worked and what didn’t for future reference.
Creating goals each year is important to the growth of your company, but it’s only the first step. It’s what you do with those goals that makes all the difference. So don’t forget to involve your team in the planning and implementation of company objectives, create incentives for reaching those goals, and monitor the progress throughout the year to make sure you get where you are going.