Have you ever had an awesome year, that you can easily deem the best year of your life? Sometimes our best years are the ones that are carefully planned. Other times, amazing years are full of surprises. Unfortunately, we can’t control surprises, but we can control our plans.
Goal setting is an important part of starting and growing a business. According to the 4th Annual Staples National Small Business Survey (Nasdaq: SPLS), 61% of business owners (61 percent) suffer from "ping-pong" syndrome as a result of constant bouncing between competing work demands and distractions. These figures could have been much lower if businesses took advantage of goal setting. Goals give us the direction to go to and simplify decision making in business.
So if you want to reach mind-blowing business success by the end of 2018, it’s best to start planning now. Here is a step-by-step plan of how to make the new year your most productive year ever:
Before you even start planning, take a look at your last year’s goals. This step isn’t meant to get you frustrated over unaccomplished goals. It’s intended to make you look at yourself and your business from a wiser perspective now that 2017 has passed. See what goals you have been relentlessly pursuing and what goals you ignored completely. The analysis of your 2017 list can teach you a lot about the way you conduct business.
The key to creating a working list is to set goals that you think are feasible. This analysis of 2017 list will help you understand your priorities and take in the feedback to create a better 2018 list.
2. Celebrate previous successes
Another reason why you need to revive your 2017 list is to see what goals you achieved so far. Goal setting is a science so as goal achievement. Make sure you celebrate your last year successes. Success can be anything - from reaching your company’s sales KPIs to improving your personal networking skills.
Most companies throw New Year's parties, but rarely do they organize anything special following the business goal achievement. Make your employees believe that reaching a company’s goal is a celebrated event on par with the New Year’s party.
3. Set specific goals
Once you review your last year's goals and acknowledge successes, determine what you want to achieve in the new year. When setting new goals it’s important to be specific and follow the S.M.A.R.T criteria.
Businesses often set big audacious goals only to be frustrated by the lack of willpower and low employee motivation. Mission, vision and big goals are important for business. They provide a larger meaning for business’s existence. But having those assets isn’t enough. You need to break big goals into short-term objectives. As Phillip C. McGraw puts it “Life’s marathon, not a sprint”. It’s easy to envision global dominance and a flow of profits, but without actionable steps these big goals can never be achieved.
For example, saying that you’re going to streamline project management processes isn’t going to push you towards action. On the contrary, “create a step-by-step workflow for website development by February” is a more concrete goal, that puts your attention on the right thing.
Additionally, you want to increase the chances of success and one way to do it is to anticipate problems. When you create short-term objectives, think about problems that you might encounter along the way. Outline ways to overcome the problems beforehand - that way you’ll be more prepared and less likely to give up on the goals.
Looking for a simple and easy way to set goals for your company? Try to improve your personal as well as company goal setting and task management processes with the help of project management or CRM software.
4. Stay focused on the process
When you focus on the process instead of results, it’s easier to follow through. If you pay attention to the process, then work becomes exciting and enjoyable. You drive value by putting forth full effort into the current moment. This approach allows you to avoid procrastination and perfectionism. People become very reluctant to do anything if they perceive goals as something to be achieved in the future.
The reality is that growing business requires a relentless commitment to the vision. But imagine living each day of 2018 trying to get closer to that faraway vision. It’s hard. That’s why you need to acknowledge the process as the one thing that leads to a greater future, but keep the vision as a source of inspiration.
5. Plan rewards
Setting goals helps us improve professionally and personally. Everyone has their own reasons why they want to improve, but no matter what reasons you have, there should be something pleasant for you in the goal achievement. It should not feel like a task, that you hate to do. To turn goals into exciting challenges, envision rewards you will get once you achieve your goals.
Plan rewards for the smallest achievements and communicate them to the team. Whether it’s a celebratory event or promotion, employees have to know their efforts will be rewarded and appreciated. When you find ways to celebrate successes in a way that reinforces your desire to pursue goals, the goal achievement ceases to be a job and becomes a journey. Plan different kinds of rewards: one for making the first steps, another one for being halfway through the journey and finally, plan a great reward at the end of the year.
6. Seek employee input
You may have a clear understanding of where you want the company to go to. But your employees will be the ones to turn the vision into reality. Co-creating goals with your employees can raise the chances of success. Moreover, if you establish a steady routine of sharing regular progress reports, you’ll get valuable feedback from people on the front line. By communicating goals to the team you’re creating a sharing culture, that then helps employees to share their personal goals with the team.
If you’re an executive, make regular progress reviews a priority. Also encourage the team to work not only on the business goals but also on their professional development. This might entail education expenses for business, but studies show that people are more inclined to bring value to the workplace if their personal development goals are regarded as important.
7. Align company goals with employee goals
Often times employee goals and company goals come into conflict. You have to notice and eliminate such instances. For example, you may have great customer experience goals, but if your tools are outdated, there is nothing employees can do to improve the experience for your customers. Before you escalate the next year’s plan to employees, dive into the details and see how your short-term goals form a clear and straightforward roadmap that leads to long-term goals and vision.
Everyone in the organization should see how their work supports the goal achievement. If your company is of a large size, you should also create a separate roadmap that shows how employee’s personal goals lead to team success, and then to company goals. Understanding how different organizational departments interact and how every single employee contributes to company’s goal will greatly contribute to operational execution and increase employee morale.
Setting goals is a perfect way to start the New Year on a positive and productive note. Goals give us the direction to follow and help us connect better with our passions and desires. In business goals have a direct influence on company’s productivity and profitability. Whether you want to increase your income or expand to the new markets, goals have the power to bring us closer to our envisioned future.
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