This morning, I opened the door to let the dogs outside and was greeted by the brisk air of fall. Cooler temperatures have arrived (finally) and leaves are starting to change color and fall. Halloween is now behind us and the holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas are quickly approaching. It’s that time of year folks …
That’s right, it’s time to start setting goals for 2016. Sure, we still have two months of 2015 left, but your strategies for finishing the year out strong should already be defined and well under way. Regardless of how this year looks to be shaping up for you, now is the time to put pencil to paper and map out a plan for the next one.
Goal-setting can be a tricky business. Set your goals too high and you risk demotivating staff while setting yourself up to fail. Set them too low and you might disappoint your shareholders and create apathy amongst the troops. The key is to find the sweet spot – goals that present a stretch, but are attainable.
If you are responsible for setting goals – whether it be for the business, a particular team, or just yourself – here are a few ideas to guide your thoughts as you zero in on that sweet spot.
- Take a look at past performance trends. Is there a pattern to your performance over the past couple of years? Do customers tend to follow certain patterns? Where has new business typically come from?
- Take a look at the marketplace. What factors might influence your existing and potential customer base over the next year? What’s happening in the local economy? Are businesses optimistic about their short-term future? Are conditions emerging that might shape the way consumers view what you have to offer?
- Take a look at the competition. Who are the major players in your space? What have they been doing that might impact your plans? More importantly, how much of their business would you like to steal next year?
- Take a look at the industry. Are there changes on the horizon that will impact your ability to grow next year? Are there opportunities or restrictions (personnel, technology, marketing, or strategy-based) on the horizon that need to be considered?
- Take a look at yourself. Do you have what it takes to perform at a different level next year? Does your team? Are you willing to invest the time, energy, and resources necessary to move things to a new level?
As you and your team start to play with some initial numbers, take stock of the feelings that come over you. A good goal will have the following impacts:
- It represents significant growth – staying flat or doing what you did this year isn’t growing.
- It scares you a little bit – but not so much that it makes you want to run away from it.
- It forces you to think about doing things differently – the same old tactics won’t get you there.
- It pulls the team together – everyone should be invested in meeting it.
- It’s attainable – everyone agrees that, while a stretch, we can do this!
Too many leaders approach the goal-setting process as a necessary evil. But don’t shortchange the process. A set of well-though-out, well-defined goals provides the marker everyone should be working toward. Proper goals set everything else in motion – training, coaching, strategy, marketing, accountability, recognition – everything. You can’t afford to approach goal-setting as a check-the-box-and-get-it-done exercise.
Of course, if I can assist in any way as you make your way through the goal-setting process, I’d love to help. I’m here to help you be successful. That’s my goal.