Many of the company leadership teams we work with have a pretty good sense of what they want to accomplish with their businesses, at least in general terms. Unfortunately, most tell us they find it hard to execute effectively every day, every quarter, and every year to make their vision a reality.
One key step in getting your team focused on execution, and gaining traction in your business, is to establish specific, measurable goals. These goals will close the gap between where your business is today and where you want it to be.
Two Steps to Create Your Plan
- Get on the same page. You and your leadership team must first decide which goal areas are essential for your company’s growth – the areas where you want to focus your resources to achieve your vision. Having this discussion as a leadership team will help smoke out your toughest issues and greatest opportunities, and will get you all on the same page. Companies commonly establish goals in the following areas:
- New customer acquisition/sales growth
- Cost management/margin improvement
- Operating improvement
- Leadership development
- New product or service development
- Define your SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely). For each goal area, establish SMART goals with an owner (a leader who is ultimately responsible to achieve the goal) for each.
- SPECIFIC. Your goal is specific if you are clear as to what must you do to achieve it. This includes how much you must achieve, the time frame, and an expression of how you will know if the goal is achieved (the final deliverable in that time frame).
- MEASURABLE: Write your goal so that the metric is obvious (number of customers, conversion ratio, cost saving, etc.) and can be tracked weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually for success.
- ACHIEVABLE: Keep the goal achievable in the time frame you have chosen (quarterly, annual). Make it realistic. A modest stretch is OK, but don’t raise the bar so high that you give up on it.
- RELEVANT: Align your goals to stay relevant with the overarching vision for your business. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted with “shiny things” that take you away from your business’s core strengths and most important customers.
- TIMELY: A strategic goal without a timeline is really just a wish, perhaps even a fantasy. No urgency often means little or no progress. A hard deadline will make the goal a concrete commitment and will help you and your team members stay focused. Take your commitments seriously. Suffer failure acutely.
The SMART method takes the ambiguity out of your goals and dramatically improves accountability. Your execution will improve and you will make much more progress in making your vision a reality.