Setting Business-Focused Goals and Targets
Whether you are new to management or simply want to improve your performance, forcing yourself in new directions, putting yourself under new pressures, disciplining yourself and setting new goals is the way to succeed.
‘It’s a lack of faith that makes people afraid of meeting challenges, and I believe in myself.’
Muhammed Ali (1942-2016) on beating hitherto undefeated world boxing heavyweight champion George Foreman in Kinshasa, Zaire in 1974.
Preparation Required for Setting Business-Focused Goals and Targets
You need to:
- Understand your current processes
- Write down carefully thought out business-focused goals and objectives
- Break down your goals and objectives into monthly/weekly/daily activities
- Spend time on these critical activities
- Create a system that you will use to track your progress
Targets are clear objective measures of what needs to be achieved. They are outcomes. You also need to focus on the people and processes that deliver the results. How can we improve them? What learning is required? What will build confidence in people and motivate them?
Goals, Objectives and Tasks
A goal is a major achievement at work or in life – something to be celebrated when reached. It can often take a long time to achieve but is well worth the effort.
Take care to ensure that your goals are articulated precisely at the outset.
To reach a goal, we need to break it down into smaller pieces – objectives – which are lined up to help towards that goal. Consider a flight of stairs. You know from the outset that you can reach the top of the staircase by taking one or two steps at a time; you wouldn’t expect to make it to the top with a single stride.
To identify objectives, you should ‘brainstorm’ them. Write them all down on a piece of paper to get the ideas together, then sort them into a logical order – both in terms of time and place. Objectives need to be:
S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Achievable and agreed
R = Relevant – i.e. Relates to your purpose
T = Time-bound
By making the objectives SMART it becomes so much easier to measure subsequent progress towards the end goal. It also allows you to make judgements on the relative priorities between different objectives.
In support of a goal to deliver sustainable, profitable growth of an account, an objective for sales activity could be as simple as ‘secure £20,000 worth of new contracts in the next 12 months’. Other objectives for the same goal might focus on the development of business through, and renewal of, existing contracts. For example ‘increase the average number of products/services sold per client from 1.88 to 2.15 by the end of the calendar year’ or ‘develop, define and deliver superior service levels to 15 key clients in the next two years’.
Take care not to generate too much detail at this stage. Remember that you are listing your objectives; you do not want to stray into the territory of ‘task’ just yet. You should aim for no more than ten objectives to achieve any one goal, ideally much less than this number.
The task is the detail required to make the objectives work – and translates into ‘to do’ lists. These are the everyday activities that you complete, and cross off your list once actioned. In total, these activities add up to the completion of an objective.
So, for the objective described above of cross-selling additional products/services, the tasks might start to look something like the following. Target dates and individuals responsible to be included for all activities, of course;
- Identify two supplementary products/services where sales are low, but the potential for clients to benefit is perceived as high
- Read marketing and technical material for the product(s)
- Meet with suppliers or relevant departments to understand pricing and delivery mechanisms
- Develop and refine sales approach to help clients recognise and articulate need for product(s) and service(s)
- Seek testimonials that illustrate the benefits of purchasing the product(s)
- Shadow a salesperson experienced in presenting the product(s)
- Plan a seminar/breakfast meeting
- Agree with line manager how progress will be measured, and how regularly
Implementation of your Plan
Does the plan that you have prepared motivate you? Does it build your confidence? Does it facilitate your learning?
If the answer to these questions is ‘yes’ then;
- Go ahead and take the first step
- Keep your end goal vividly in mind
And, crucially …..
The plan needs to be reviewed on a regular basis and amended as circumstances dictate. Remember, plans cannot be written in stone and need to be flexible enough to deal with those unforeseen circumstances that affect all businesses.
- How will you review progress?
- How often will you review progress?
- Who with?
- What is your reporting mechanism?
- How visible is the plan?