I have never met a business owner who wasn’t interested in growing his or her business. Even those who are stretched because they are growing too fast recognize that growth is something they must always think about.
I’ll present to you three scenarios of businesses with different goal-setting strategies. Try to guess which business is most likely to meet its goal.
The first business identified its goal but didn’t share it with the employees. The employees didn’t exactly know what was expected of them or what they were to accomplish. The owner thought it was a “no-brainer” that employees would understand what was needed to advance the business. He didn’t discuss the goal or get input from employees because it seemed elementary to him.
The second business shared its goal with its employees. Employees knew exactly what they were to accomplish. They knew what “success” looked like and would recognize it when they were there.
The third business shared the goal with its employees and provided daily feedback, when needed, on progress toward the goal. On any given day, employees knew whether they were moving in the direction of meeting the goal or moving away from it.
Those of you who think the third business is the most likely to meet the target goal are correct. Research from leadership experts Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (www.leadershipchallenge.com) supports the idea of identified, shared goals and ongoing feedback on progress toward them. Businesses that take the time to identify specific goals with their employees and give regular feedback on progress are the most likely to meet their goals.
According to Kouzes and Posner, the first business is the least likely to meet its goal. Just as most people don’t get in their cars to go on vacation and then drive around hoping they end up someplace, most businesses can’t afford that kind of aimlessness either. When managers say they don’t have time to discuss goals and feedback with employees, I ask them whether that lack of communication is a luxury they truly can afford.
The second-most likely successful business strategy is sharing the goal with employees without addressing daily progress toward it or away from it. This would be comparable to a vacationer who knows where he or she wants to go but lacks a map or any idea of daily progress toward that location.
The key thing to remember from this research is that what gets attention is what gets repeated. If employees know that a 10 percent growth in sales or productivity is expected by the business and is measured daily, they are more likely to reach that goal than they are if managers assume everyone is working toward the same thing. v
Pam Franta is the owner of Pamela Franta Consulting. She is a licensed psychologist specializing in executive coaching/consulting with individuals and groups at work. She can be reached at [email protected]