Learning how to build goals from the bottom up connects individuals to the broader mission.
In addition to building your goals from the top-down, a useful exercise is to build goals from the bottom-up. It helps get team buy-in and it can identify new opportunities for upside. For bottom-up goals, start with what the team thinks they can commit to. What they can deliver. Ask them what they can stretch to. Then work from those individual drivers, those individual goals, up to the bigger metrics that matter for the organization.
If you have an organization that’s trying to drive sales and you have a team full of sales reps, you may look at the individual bottom-up goals of number of calls that they’re going to make in an hour. Those then roll up to the number of calls that they’re able to connect on in an hour, which rolls up to a broader goal of the number of pitches that they’re making to customers, and a goal above that of how many pitches are being accepted by the customer. That can tie to a bigger goal of the number of contracts sent and pricing being achieved, a bigger goal of number of contracts being closed, and ultimately, end up in the big organizational goal of how much revenue is being generated.
Working from the bottom-up ties the individual to the broader mission. In terms of identifying new opportunities, I found this out firsthand. I had a team where I went to all my team members and I asked them for their profit goal for the year. One team came back to me with five times what I would have expected. I would have given them a goal of say, $5 million. And they came back and said, we’re going to get you 25. I was shocked and I asked them, where did you get this? They showed me they had found a huge new opportunity I wasn’t aware of. When I went to commit to my boss, I only committed 3x of that 5x they had found. I learned on the back end they had sandbagged me, and the number was 10x what I would have asked for them in the first place. They left upside for themselves and had hedged their goal to me. They were excited to exceed that hedge but they made sure they didn’t over promise to the organization.
Building from the bottom-up in that situation was great because it brought forth a new opportunity and we were able to roll it into the broader organizational goal. When you go through your goal setting exercise, go to your team and work from the bottom-up, from those low level metrics that tie to the higher level organizational goals. Look for buy-in from your team in terms of the goals that they’re going to set, and try and identify new opportunities for upside. That bottom-up goal setting process is going to give you tighter goals that are more closely tied to the broader organizational ones and hopefully help you find new opportunities to pursue.
Want to learn more about setting goals? How about taking an entire course on it? Go directly to the course and start learning how to set better goals. The entire course is available at LinkedIn Learning. Enjoy!
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