“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is a colloquial way to say that it is unnecessary to try to improve something that already works. It’s a good rule of thumb for many things—like appliances, relationships, or automobiles—but not for business. Maintaining a mindset that the only time you need to improve or streamline something is when it’s obviously broken means that you’ll miss out on important opportunities to grow your company.
To truly inspire change throughout your organization, you need to get everyone on board. Your business model should not be Atlas singlehandedly carrying the world on his shoulders; it should include input and responsibility from the whole team. Setting monthly goals is an important habit for leaders who want to inspire and challenge their team, and in turn, benefit their business outcomes.
Tie Goals into a Mission
Setting goals for the sake of having goals mean that they will inevitably lack context and impact. Circle back to your mission statement as well as each team’s underlying purpose. These deeper objectives will serve as the basis for setting smaller, more concrete goals that change by month or quarter. As Inc. advises, developing a sense of shared connection between teammates will produce better motivation and results. It’s important to start with the overarching aims and then work your way down to the narrower, more concrete temporary goals that help you get there.
Goal-setting can backfire if it dangles unattainable expectations over the team. Overly lofty goals quickly become demoralizing and undermine your reasoning for wanting to set them in the first place. Entrepreneur provides an example of the difference between unrealistic and realistic objectives: If you set a monthly sales goal that’s higher than your yearly sales average, that’s simply unrealistic. If you want to increase your monthly income by a modest percentage each month, that’s a motivator that’s well within grasp for your team.
It’s also worthwhile to come up with an acceptable range for which employees should aim instead of a hard and fast number. This flexible practice tends to boost morale and give team members an extra reason to go above and beyond.
Phrase Goals Positively
Goals should never be a direct reaction to a misstep or shortcoming. Negative reinforcement might scare people into shaping up, but it’s not a good long-term growth strategy for company culture or performance. Remember to keep goals aspirational and optimistic, never punishing or mundane. It’s up to you as a leader to think about how the phrasing of your goals will translate into action and rally your team behind you. Try “Let’s collectively aim to get our error rate down to 10 percent next month by focusing on X behaviors” instead of “Since we just had such a sloppy month, we need to keep our error rate below 10 percent next month.”
First Thing’s First
It’s tempting to want to jump into goal setting at the earliest opportunity, but it’s important to lay the behind-the-scenes groundwork before you’re in a position to ask more of your team. Just like your business started with logistics like choosing the right small business insurance, making contacts within the industry, and getting your hands on the right technology, setting goals requires you to walk before you run.
Start by conducting necessary reporting to gauge where you currently stand in performance, and compare future, goal-driven performance against this baseline. Employee input at this stage is crucial to identify inefficiencies and gear up to use productive monthly goal setting as inspiration. Use this prep time to think several months in advance and continue to ripen conditions for methodical growth.
Setting monthly goals as motivators is an important way for teams to pave their path to progression. Plan first, conduct plenty of research and keep the message positive and inspiring. You’ll infuse new life into your monthly meetings and do the important work of getting everyone on the same page to accomplish shared goals. Good luck!