Setting the scene: Step back a few weeks. It’s barely October, and the leaves have just begun really embracing their changing colors. The air is crisp but comfortable, and everywhere you go, pumpkins are at the forefront of decorations and doorsteps. All you can think about is settling in with a warm cup of cider and some homemade pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. As you go to the store to retrieve the necessary ingredients, you hear something the next aisle over that immediately ruins your harvest spirit—Christmas songs. Why this person feels the need to break the “day after Thanksgiving” cardinal rule to Christmas music, I don’t know. However, these hasty celebrators offer valuable insights into several aspects of company goal setting.
1. Set goals that matter
For early celebrators, the excitement stems from the anticipation of something they care about. In the case of holidays, it may be the time spent with family, the generosity, or just the festive energy. When setting company goals, reaching for something that matters sparks the same type of excitement. Goals that matter often include those that support the mission and vision of the company. If the goal lacks congruency with the direction of the business, it will be challenging to find the kind of momentum that excites employees. Pursue something that matters, and build the energy to “celebrate” it throughout the goal period.
2. Seek and value employee input
One of the most “magical” aspects of the holiday season is how communities come together. When something is communal, it is often more fully embraced. As leaders determine company goals, they should seek and value employee input. An article from Clear Point Strategy clarifies that leads should “be open to actually using [the input]—otherwise, employees will be less likely to offer up their opinions in the future.” Additionally, employees who work remotely should be included in collaborative conversations and updated regularly on goal progress. While leaders may ultimately make the call on goal setting, embracing employee opinions will foster greater enthusiasm for the goal.
3. Set SMART goals
Early carol singers aren’t just bursting into song—they’ve already made a list of gifts, dusted off the ornaments, and planned the festive feast. They know the timeline they’re working with, the specific tasks to complete, and they plan accordingly. Likewise, company goals should be actionable and measurable. The long-taught acronym SMART is helpful in goal setting:
–Specific: Your goal should be clearly defined, and employees should know what achievement “looks” like.
–Measurable: Establish a current benchmark, plan for achievement milestones, and establish a tracking method.
–Attainable: Be realistic with your goal! Over-lofty goals may be discouraging and counter-productive.
–Relevant: Goals should align closely with the company vision and direction.
–Time-based: Your goal should not have an open-ended completion date. Instead, the goal should have a specific date to be accomplished by.
4. Regularly evaluate goal progress
The song, “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” reminds us that “making a list and checking it twice” is important. Simply setting a goal does not guarantee success, especially when daily tasks demand our attention away from broader goals. After setting a goal, plan regular evaluation meetings. This will provide a time to discuss progress, take corrective measures, and celebrate successes. Regularly looking at goal progress is integral to staying motivated and making sure your heading in the right direction.
So who are you? Are you the person in the store relishing in the crunchy fall leaves, or are you the hasty holiday singer? In the case of company goal planning, let’s be the ones who enthusiastically sing, celebrate, and work towards our goals. At ANS, we’ve been working hard to achieve our company goals. By setting goals that matter, seeking employee input, establishing SMART goals, and regularly evaluating them, we can make goal achievement the “most wonderful time of the year.”