Goal Setting in a Business Scenario

“The secret to productive goal setting is in establishing clearly defined goals, writing them down and then focusing on them several times a day with words, pictures and emotions as if we’ve already achieved them.” – Denis Waitley

In every realm of life it is important to set goals – they lend purpose and focus. Goal setting in a business scenario works the same way and it would be extremely foolish and detrimental for a company to not have a set of goals that are written, well-articulated and a relevant part of the overall plan for the company. Goal setting helps a company to plan their way forward to earn a better market share, report higher profitability and sustain the growth pattern over a long period of time. Goal setting is also an imperative exercise for a company to determine daily operations, staff matters like morale, numbers, incentives, policies and other such factors and to ensure that everyone is aware of both long term and short term goals. There is an established norm of goal setting too – management gurus have repeatedly said that goals for any company must be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. Keeping these factors in mind during goal setting ensures that a company is able to meet its goals even while ensuring that both customers and employees remain happy and stay with the company for a long time.

Why is goal setting so vital? Without short term and long term goals, in life or in business, there would be no direction. A business needs something to look towards and formulate its decisions, operations and strategies around. Each person within the company too must have their set of individual goals, which would tie in with the company’s overall goals. Goal setting is the path along which a company would move, gaining small but important successes along the way. Goal setting is what can best be described as the company’s vision – a forward thinking approach that would ensure the success of their employees, customers and other stake-holders. No one would like to be associated with a company that is unable to provide a clear direction and concrete plans for growth and profits. Goal setting is also a clear indication of the company’s leadership – clear, concise, well-understood and suitably conveyed goals make a convincing statement about the company’s leadership. Through the establishment of goals, a company is also able to form and sustain its culture and values and it would be able to attract the kind of employees and customers that believe in them. Being able to attract like-minded professionals makes a company stronger and also enhances the reputation of the company in the ‘market’.

Some of the crucial advantages of goal setting – these seem to be common across companies and industries – are:

  • Points the company in single direction enhancing focus and credibility. This focused approach shows all its stakeholders that a company can be trusted and is in the ‘game’ for long term. Each person associated with the company knows what to expect, what efforts they need to put in to gain personal and professional success and how their actions would impact the goals set down for the company. Goal setting provides focus to the company’s leaders and policy makers too in understanding the resources they would need, the skills and talents required and other such criteria that would lead to the fulfilment of these goals.
  • When everyone in the company is able to clearly see ‘what’s in it for me’ they would be motivated and eager to fulfil the goals set out. They would strive to be successful and aim for personal and professional development by acquiring more skills, attending relevant training programs and strive to excel to earn rewards and recognition. With growth comes motivation and motivation leads to a greater desire to do better.
  • Goal setting shows a common purpose. When employees can see how the company’s goals tie in with their own and how it would benefit them to work together to achieve those goals, it would elevate the level of team work, collaboration and unity within them. With consistency in objectives throughout the organization, there would be a significant reduction in activities that won’t contribute to the goals – thereby increasing productivity and work excellence. The flow of communication between the members of the organization would also be smooth since each person would be aligned in thought and action.
  • As teamwork and collaboration become a habit, the work environment becomes more congenial with opportunities for conflicts significantly reduced. Each person would feel a sense of satisfaction, ownership and self-worth – and it is a well-known fact that people that feel valued and are given importance work better and for longer. Goal setting is a process that makes the objectives and ambitions of a company ‘belong’ to each person associated with it. With more people pushing and pulling a common ‘load’, it would seem lighter and more easily attainable for all.
  • Clear and well-done goal setting exercise also serves as a key differentiator between one company and its competitors. Goals drive action and action that leads to better understanding of the market, services, customer profiles and other such factors, will positively impact the position and reputation of a company in the highly competitive business scenario. A proper goal setting exercise is ‘half the battle won’, which can then be topped by aggressive marketing and promotions and elevated levels of customer service.

As mentioned earlier, each company would have their own goal setting criteria but there is some commonality in this exercise. Goals must be easily visualized, seem doable and encompass success for all those working towards their attainment. They must be thorough, precise and convey a common theme – if goals are too broad or lacking in detail they would not last long and neither would they be attainable.

With time, just like with every aspect of a business, goal setting is an exercise which must have measurable standards. It is a known fact that when people are able to achieve small successes and fulfil some goals, it motivates them to do better. However, without some measures in place to know what has been achieved, people would feel disassociated and would not know whether their efforts have borne fruit hitherto. Quantifiable and visible results will let those involved know how much more they need to do, what they need to do better and which of their efforts they need to sustain in order to gain more success and profits.

Goal setting is all about ‘keeping it real and manageable’. The people involved in achieving the goals must be able to feel in control. They must be able to see that their hard work, consistent effort and collaboration are producing the results that would get them nearer to attaining their own goals and that of the company. Goal setting leaves nothing to chance – it takes into consideration any possible exigent circumstances and allows flexibility such that there are no pauses or stops along the way.

Goal setting must be a collaborative exercise – this means that everyone responsible for the attainment of these goals must know why they need to do something and what the end result would be. Buy-in for goals of a company is extremely crucial since no company can hope to achieve their targets without the cooperation of its employees and other stakeholders. Well-articulated and written goals do away with ambiguity and also appeal to the emotional side of those involved. Well set goals are gratifying when achieved and people will not let go even when times are tough – the goals become meaningful especially when the attainment of each is cause for celebration. Celebrating small successes forms bonds within the company and people feel like they are part of something bigger and better. It is true that no one can predict the future – however, goal setting certainly makes for a good plan to set a better future.

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