Goals are a tricky thing. If you are in a position to set goals for your department, you want them to be achievable, while at the same time not being an easy slam-dunk. Goals should encourage employees to stretch a little bit. You want to have over-achievers, not ‘business as usual’ experts. Tweet that!
The methodology of setting goals definitely varies by company. I’ve worked in places where the goals were simply ‘10% higher’ than the year before. I’ve also had goals set through careful analysis of run rates to determine where the business has to be (and yes, those sometimes ended at 10% higher than the year before). And, I’ve had goals set for me that look at run rates and go up from there.
I’m a believer that if you set goals too high, where you know the chances of them being achieved are low, all you end up doing is demotivating your staff. You really want the goal to be one everyone can get behind and strive to reach. I don’t mean easily reach by doing what they’ve always done, I mean stretch to reach because they are incented to do more, or to do things better.
While at AOL, I spent some time working in the Customer Retention department (no snickers please!). My boss set the goals for the department, and one particular year he put a goal on ending customers, the number of total customers the company would have by year-end. He came to the number through analysis, gut, and the knowledge of programs we were launching to entice customers to stay with us. It was not an easy number but we all knew what that number was. We watched our monthly numbers like hawks to drive to our goal. And guess what? In a year where we had over 10 million customers by year-end, we ‘missed’ our number by 71. 71! We celebrated the huge win!
The point of that story is, however you set your goals, they should serve to motivate. Most places I’ve worked have weekly meetings where sales numbers are reviewed. The reason for those meetings is to keep everyone focused and on track.
A colleague of mine decided to launch an initiative called ‘Leave no Customer Behind.’ It’s brilliant! Her group is totally focused on uncovering points where we lose customers, and closing those gaps. Not only is it innovative, it has given her staff clear direction on where to focus because there are goals associated with the effort.
Review what’s key to your business success. Is it sales, leads, cost per order, social sharing, hits to your blog? Create goals to achieve each important metric, make sure everyone knows what those goals are and work together to achieve them.
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