Too often goals are like the proverbial New Year’s resolutions…well articulated on New Year’s Eve and largely forgotten by January 5th. Too often goals do nothing more than gather dust. The best goals connect mission, vision and reality. They have the potential to take an organization to a new level of performance.
Typically organizations spend large amounts of time and money crafting insightful strategic plans that are left on shelves and in drawers never to be fully implemented.
William Jennings Bryan said that our “destiny is not a matter of chance…it’s a matter of choice.” If an organization wants to develop goals that actually drive behavior then a process, a technology is needed for effective goal setting and implementation.
Here are “Ten Commandments” to setting and implementing successful goals:
1. The goals should fit the organization and not represent someone else’s dream. Goals should fit with the organization’s culture and character. Some goals may fit with today’s service trends but they do not reflect the mission of the organization.
2. State your goals positively. Negative goals only remove something from the organization’s experience. They leave an empty space. Stating a goal positively creates a view or a mental picture of how things will be when the goal is achieved. Be clear about the rewards or outcomes that will be achieved.
3. The goal must be specific and clear. It cannot be open to varying interpretations. Vague goals can lead to a less demanding interpretation of what the goal’s actual intention was.
4. The goal must be measurable. It should be clear what accomplishing the goal will look like. There should be bench marks along the way so progress can be measured. When the completion date arrives there are no surprises.
5. Your goal should be realistic but attainably high. Sometimes goals are unrealistic…at least within the desired time frame. The result is frustration and sometimes abandoning the goal altogether. At the same time, achieving the goal should require some special effort. If achieving the goal is too easy, the added benefit of growth and stretching the organization is lost.
6. Designate a date for achievement. Without a target date, achieving a goal looses urgency and importance. Long-range goals are not necessarily more important than short-range goals, but setting and achieving target dates is critical.
7. State goals in writing. Writing a goal has a number of advantages, among them clarifying what the goal is about, providing focus for the achievement effort and a lessened tendency for target erosion.
8. To be successful with goals, list all the obstacles you can possibly think of…reasons large and small why achieving your goal might not be possible. For each obstacle identify at least one solution.
9. Write down the reasons why the organization will be successful. Skills, past experiences and past achievements all of which indicate the likelihood of success.
10. Regularly evaluate progress and make adjustments.
Achieving goals may not be a steady upward line. There will be ups and downs…times when you begin to wonder if you will be successful. This does not mean that your goal is not worthy but simply that action plans and time frames may need adjustment.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going”. This same dynamic operates in the business world. Achieving goals is not a matter of luck or wishful thinking; it is the end result of following a process designed for success.
Larry Wenger is the President and Founder of the Workforce Performance Group. located in Newtown, Pa. He is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Social Work and has led human service organizations of various types for over 40 years.
Larry Wenger is a leadership development expert. For more information on implementing your personal or business goals or to learn more about other leadership topics, visit http://www.workforceperformancegroup.com/