Everyone sets goals. It might be a personal goal to exercise more. Or a professional goal to obtain a certification. Organizations set goals to increase profits, decrease expenses, improve product quality, and enhance customer service.
But setting a goal isn’t enough. Once a goal is set, it needs to be accomplished. Effort and resources need to be used. Goals can often face challenges. Rarely does a goal “just happen.” In order to turn goals into results, they need to be monitored, measured, and tweaked. Here’s how you do it:
1. Monitoring goals
Any time you set a goal, you should establish a regular check in process. The hard part is figuring out how often to check in. If you check in too often, it could feel like you’re spending more time monitoring that actually accomplishing anything. It could also feel like you’re not making enough progress in between check ins.
On the other hand, if your check ins are too far apart, the goal could be easily forgotten or moved to the bottom of the priority list. Which seems counterintuitive to the whole reason that we set goals in the first place, to make a priority out of accomplishing something.
Ultimately, we need to try to find a balance. One way to create a monitoring schedule is to think of the goals in terms of milestones. Accomplish a milestone, then conduct a check in. It allows you to ensure that no tweaks or revisions need to be made to the goal (more on that a little later.)
2. Measuring goals
Depending upon the goal you set, an initial method to measure your progress is through benchmarking. Take a pulse on where you stand prior to starting work on the goal then again after you’ve started work on the goal. For example, I recently got an Apple watch. It has a goal called “stand notifications” which reminds me to get up from my desk and move. When I first started wearing the watch, I didn’t make my daily goal. After wearing the watch for a couple of months, I now achieve my daily goal.
Another way to use benchmarking is with your organizational or industry metrics. Let’s say average turnover in your industry is 30 percent. Your current turnover is 40 percent. You can use turnover rate metrics to monitor your progress toward a goal that’s closer to industry average.
For goals that have multiple steps or activities, it could make sense to think of them in terms of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, actionable, responsible and time-bound. For instance, the company decides to set a goal that cost per hire needs to be less than $5,000 per employee. To achieve this goal, they want to implement several strategies, including social recruiting, automated onboarding, and an employee referral program. Each one of those strategies would have a measurable goal.
3. Revising goals
It’s perfectly normal to adjust goals. The business world changes regularly and we need to be prepared to change along with it.
The adjustments might occur based upon changes in assumptions. The organization sets a goal based upon quarterly revenue of $XX and they only make $YY. The goal will need to be revisited. Also, as you start to measure outcomes, it might be necessary to adjust the goal. Using our cost per hire example above, maybe the automated onboarding solution saved more than anticipated, so the $5,000 cost per hire figure can be reduced.
The important thing to remember when revising goals is to think of multiple options before deciding to revise a goal. There are several ways to accomplish the result you’re looking for. Also, be sure to document the reason for the change. That way, if there are any questions, everyone will remember the rationale for the decision.
Goals don’t happen by themselves
Setting a goal is only one step in the process. It takes a lot of work and resources to accomplish a goal. Monitoring goals helps us to stay focused and on track. Measuring goals gives us definitive proof that we are making progress. And revising goals is a realistic way to manage business changes.
How do you make sure that you accomplish your goals?
Sharlyn Lauby is the HR Bartender and president of ITM Group Inc., a South Florida based training and human resources consulting firm focused on helping companies retain and engage talent.
Sharlyn sees human resources as a strategic partner - the marketing department for a company’s internal clients rather as administrative. During her 20+ years in the profession, she has earned a reputation for bringing business solutions to reality.
Prior to starting ITM Group, Sharlyn was vice president of human resources for Right Management Consultants, one of the world’s largest organizational consulting firms. She has designed and implemented highly successful programs for employee retention, internal and external customer satisfaction, and leadership development. Publications such as Reuters, The New York Times, ABC News, TODAY, Readers Digest, Men’s Health and The Wall Street Journal have sought out her expertise on topics related to human resources and workplace issues.