Goals can make sense in isolation, but when you add them all up, you may be asking for unrealistic results from your team. Watch out for conflicting goals.
It’s important to reality check your goals. Goals can make sense in isolation, but when you add them all up, you may be asking for unrealistic results from your team. You’ll need to evaluate how department goals impact one another. If you set a goal for revenue growth, and another goal for cost cutting, you may have created an impossible situation for the team. They can’t spend money to drive revenue because they’re so focused on cost cutting. It’s this kind of reality checking that leads to more reasonable and achievable results.
What I’d suggest is get all your organization’s goals together on a whiteboard. Start with the high-level corporate goals, then lay out your business unit’s or department’s goals. Lay out adjacent business units or functions. Look for dependencies. Look for supporting goals and look for conflicting goals. Go through the same exercise for the teams in your organization.
For supporting goals, make sure there’s no overlap. You don’t want people working on redundant things or getting double credit for going after the same work. For places where there are dependencies of goals, make sure the first goal is properly resourced so the follow-on goal can be met. Also lay out for that second goal the risk in hitting it if the first one isn’t achieved.
In situations where you have conflicting goals, try to get them aligned. You can eliminate one of the goals or carve out the impact of one goal on another. For example, if you have a cost-reduction goal, lower the revenue goal since you can’t market as much since you’ve decided you’re not going to spend. It’s this kind of reality checking, where you take a step back and look at the overall goals and the behaviors that are driven, that’s going to increase the likelihood you hit your most important goals and don’t cause frustration for your team.
This reality check is something that I see people miss all the time. They lay out their goals, their goals are smart, they’re focused, and they understand the behaviors they need to drive, but they never take that extra minute to say, “How do these goals impact one another?” If you do that kind of integrative thinking and look across all your goals, you’re going to spot the trouble spots and understand what you need to change before you launch your team out on its work.
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