It’s almost the end of January, a time when the New Year’s resolutions are starting to wane for most people. If you have a business goal, whether it’s setting and achieving sales targets or increasing employee training, there’s more to gain (and lose) if you don’t succeed.
But, if you’ve fallen off the wagon already, don’t feel too bad. You’re not alone. In fact, research suggests only 8 per cent of people who make New Year’s resolution achieve their goal.
So, how do you improve your odds? We spoke to Marcela Slepica, Clinical Director of AccessEAP, a corporate psychology organisation, for her tips on keeping the business goals.
“The start of a new year is a great opportunity to take a fresh look at the goals you’d like to set for the next 12 months.
“For businesses, this could range from financial growth to improved staff retention, or new service and product offerings.”
Unfortunately, less than one in ten of us achieve New Year’s resolutions. So how can managers and HR professional hope to inspire their teams to find year-long success? Ms Slepica says the answer lies in practical goal setting.
“It’s easy to get swept up in the excitement of setting a new goal, without thinking about the big picture.
“While having a common goal is great for team morale and motivating employees, the business goals you set need to be realistic and in line with your organisation’s vision and values”.
Smart goals are crucial to achieving New Year’s Resolution goals, according to Ms Slepica.
SMART Business Goals
Business goals are like personal goals in that they provide structure to help us move in the direction we want to take, says Ms Slepica.
“Within organisations, it can be easy to come up with ‘big picture’ ideas or strategic direction; however, setting goals can be more challenging.
“The SMART model is a great way of keeping your goals on track and giving them the best possible chance of success.
Business goals need to be as specific, e.g. rather than ‘we want more business or to increase our revenue’, a specific goal may be ‘we want to grow revenue by 10 % this year’, or ‘we want three new customers per month.’
Keep track of numbers, e.g. numbers of cold calls, number of proposals, number of enquiries. Have a visual of numbers on a board so everyone can see it and see how it’s growing.
Is your goal realistic? For example, is it realistic to achieve three new customers? What is involved in achieving the goal? Do you have the resources?
Your business goal needs to tie into the direction of your organisation, e.g. is it relevant to source new customers if the market is saturated? An alternative could be growing existing customers.
Ensure that you set timeframes around your goals, e.g. do you want to have reached this goal by the start of the new financial year? Continually discuss the time frames and keep focus by celebrating milestones.
Ms Slepica also notes that it’s essential to include some flexibility around business goals and review them regularly.
“Unforeseeable changes may occur throughout the year, which impacts on the relevance of your goals, or your ability to achieve them.
“Organisations are changing at a fast pace to keep up with influences such as new technology, so you can’t afford to take a ‘set and forget’ approach to goals.”
It’s important to review your organisation’s goals regularly, and adjust them if needed, explains Ms Slepica.
The other important factor which Ms Slepica highlights is to have clarity around who is accountable or responsible for implementing different aspects of your organisational business goals.
“In order for the goal to progress from an idea to reality, you need key people taking charge and making sure that it happens. Part of your goal setting should be outlining, who does what, and when, right from the outset.”
Find the Value in Your Business Goals
For your business goals to be effective, it’s vital to help your team find meaning and purpose in their day-to-day work.
A values-based approach helps provide the rationale as to why you originally set the business goal. The idea is that achieving the goal is a part of something bigger and is not in itself a means to an end.
Employees can be motivated to achieve goals by having a vision or mission statement that is developed collaboratively, explains Ms Slepica.
“If employees believe in what they are doing, they are going to be more motivated to achieve goals.”
For example, many organisations now donate some of their profits to charity, as a values-based incentive for motivating staff.
Most organisations also now incorporate values in their day-to-day practice and code of conduct. Therefore, how employees behave to achieve their goals becomes just as important as the end goal.
“This cohesiveness between goal and values further reinforces for employees that they are doing the right thing, and for many people, this feeling is highly motivating.”