Is There a Downside to Setting All Those Goals for You and Your Business?

New Year’s is closer than you think.

But before you start hammering out objectives for you and your company, consider this quote from a recent Forbes.com post:

“Researchers from four top business schools have shown that goals often do more harm than good. Worse, they can cause real damage to organizations and individuals using them.”

The logical question is: “How?” Goals give you and your employees something to work toward. They help align everyone’s efforts toward achieving a common end. They unify. They motivate. They drive performance.

But goals have a potential downside, too. Setting unrealistic – or too many – goals can be counterproductive, producing bad “side effects” like:

  • unethical behavior, in an attempt to achieve them;
  • over-focus on one area of business, resulting in neglect of another;
  • and corrosion of organizational culture, as a result of too much internal competition.

Should you eliminate goals completely? Of course not. Just use common sense when creating them. Here are a few tips from Wood Personnel for setting goals that support, rather than undermine, success:

  • Make goals SMART. Use a collaborative process to determine goals, and follow the SMART model, so that goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound.
  • Write them down. This sounds so simple, but not everyone does it. Committing goals to paper helps reinforce accountability and improve compliance.
  • Align individual goals with your company’s big picture. Each person should understand the direction of your business and know how his job supports your organization’s overall success. To achieve goal alignment, start by clearly communicating your strategic business objectives across the entire company. Then, develop “cascading goals” for each level within your organization. The actions of entry or base level employees should support the goals of supervisors; supervisors’ goals should promote managers’ success; managers’ goals should reinforce both senior executives’ and company-wide objectives.
  • Revisit goals frequently. Your company is not static; your goals shouldn’t be, either. Once you set them, provide mechanisms for you and your employees to track progress along the way. Periodically reassess goals, to make sure they’re still relevant and determine if corrective action is required to keep things on track.
  • Monitor for unethical behavior. If goals are a stretch, certain employees may be tempted to engage in questionable behavior to achieve them. Be aware of the potential dysfunctional behavior that may ensue – so you can nip problems in the bud.

What goals have you set for yourself, your team or your company? We’d like to know – and we’d like to help you achieve them. Contact Wood Personnel today to find out how our Middle Tennessee staffing and recruiting services could help you achieve more in 2014.

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