In business we set goals and the goals help us move forward. But what does this mean? There is no simple answer to this question . . . unless you have a process in place that allows you to start at a planning phase in order to get your business to the desired result.
In my past experience, I have used a process that not only helped my previous business achieve growth on a consistent basis, but also allowed us to achieve our place on the INC 500 list. In addition, we not only achieved most of our goals due to hard work, but we positioned our business for a sale to a multi-billion dollar International Company.
None of this would have happened on its own. It required a change in the way we did business from the standpoint of holding people accountable from the top-down. Each and every employee in our business had a role within the process.
I mentioned change and change is often seen as painful. Yes, it was painful in the beginning but it required each person to get into a rhythm and before long, the process became the norm. Things moved forward slowly at first; however, repetition of the process made things come together.
So what did we do different? We broke the process down into ten steps.
- Strategic Planning Meeting
During this meeting we would paint a picture of what we wanted the company to look like; it was a rough sketch. Then we were prepared to bring in our key players and listen to their input on what they believed we needed and how we would get there.
- Agree to Business Goals
It was very important to have agreement on the desired goals. In most cases, we would agree on stretch goals as well. The key to this step is that our goals were not just top-driven. We had buy-in from the rest of the team.
- Agree to Rewards
We found out early on that there were two systems in our business—bonuses and rewards—and we could not confuse the two of them. The rewards had to be something that would get team members excited and encourage the drive to earn.
- Publish Business Goals
We would print our finalized goals onto a nice, framed poster. This was something that could be displayed as a constant reminder in a place where everyone would see, such as the conference room—our meeting place for daily huddles. It wasn’t just one of those pieces of papers stored away somewhere, hidden from eyesight.
- Goals Set by Departments
This was a challenging process in which our employees were highly involved. It showed them that they could make a difference in the organization. They were able to actually see how their department’s work drove results towards the business goals.
- Goals Set by Each Employee
Each employee would set goals to support the individual department in which they worked. This system is successful when the employee goals support the department goals, and the department goals support the company goals. Much like a pyramid, the company goals are supported from the bottom, up.
- Hold the Team Accountable
One of the most painful parts of change was accountability. Weekly meetings with employees helped put in place accountability. Once in place, if you failed to meet as scheduled employees became offended and thought that something was wrong. Believe it or not, people like to be held accountable for what they do. It was always a good time for that personal pat on the back.
- Monthly Review of Goal Status with the Company
Until we started discussing where we were at on a monthly basis, we never realized how much our goals meant to the employees. If we were trailing behind, they would immediately start asking what we could be doing differently in order to achieve our goals.
- End of Quarter Wrap-up
This step was always looked forward to by the entire team. We would have a small Superbowl-like celebration such as an in-house lunch or team outing. This helped to define the close of the quarter, letting the team know that we were already working on the next quarter.
- Held Up Our Part of the Bargain—Rewards
The rewards were handled, not put off! We always did what we said we were going to do. If we failed in meeting our goals, there were no rewards. That happened once in awhile but more times than not, we celebrated.
You are probably thinking, wow, what a list of processes! This is what I said the first time around. Personally, my first thought was, if we do all of this we will not have time to do our work much less get anything done.
First, you have to become a believer. If you want to grow your business you have to have processes. Once the process becomes a rhythm it becomes a daily, weekly, and monthly process. You will see that it takes less time to do things the right way, rather than spending time looking back and wondering why things never seem to change at all.
In the past, our old process involved a planning session to set revenue goals and any other goals we wanted to accomplish. Then, 90 days later we would go back, review the goals and where we ended our quarter. Typically, we had either a surprised look on our faces or a look of disappointment. Most often, it was the latter of the two. When we changed our system, we never had any surprises. We knew where we were going, how we were going to get there, and at all times we knew exactly where we were at in the process.
Why am I believer in this system? It was simple for me; after we sold the business I became part of the bigger organization and observed first-hand how the business was run. They used top-down driven goals and no one was on board with the process. What I watched in the years to come was a successful business falling apart. No one cared about the goals; it was just expected that things would always fall into place. How wrong they were to believe this!
What type of process do you use to set your company goals and is the process working like it is supposed to? If not what are you doing about it? Let me know in the comments below.