6 checks for effective goals

Blog • Antoinette Wieman • Oct 1 • 4 min read

goal check steps

SMART goals lead to better results

Since the start of this whole COVID situation, I’ve been doing a daily workout with an app. One of those with a hyperactive American who cheers me on every morning to "turn it up a notch" and push just a little further than yesterday. The app secretly keeps adjusting my goals a little bit, so that slowly but surely, I’m starting to impress myself.

At Bizaline, we’ve often talked about goals. Many people are familiar with SMART goals: specific, measurable, assignable, realistic, and time-bound. There are also other tools you can use to enhance your chances of achieving your goals. For instance, I like to make use of a Goal Tree as a useful instrument for setting and managing goals. And we’ve explored the specific challenges of sustainability goals. In this blog, though, I want to share with you our own goals checklist: six steps that you can apply when setting, reviewing, and adjusting your organization’s goals. Along the way, I’ll share with you some common mistakes and useful tips so you, too, can turn things up a notch.

"Ready to turn it up a notch?"

The goals checklist...

Step 1: Does the goal represent a clear change to your current situation?

The other day, I was at the hospital – fortunately not for COVID symptoms, but to do an strategy execution workshop using catchball & OGSM. One of the topics we discussed was their goals. Their most important objective was “Putting employees first.” But what exactly does that mean? What is the current problem with their employees, that makes this goal so important? Without a clear analysis of your current situation, you’re liable to end up with vague goals that resemble slogans. That usually does not help your organization.

Step 2: How does the goal compare to your competitors' performance?

Imagine: your organization might have an absenteeism percentage of 9%. You might set a goal to reduce that to 7% or 8%, and consider that ambitious. But if your competitors are consistently realizing 4%, that puts your performance in a different light. Considering the competitive context can help you consider your goals and the current situation of your organization.

Step 3: Is the goal realistic, given available time, budget and resources?

To set goals that are meaningful to your organization, it is important to figure out what’s needed to reach them. This prediction doesn’t need to be perfect (see steps 5 and 6) – but it does need to be done, so that you don’t end up setting goals that are impossible to achieve or, on the contrary, far too easy. Part of what makes goal-setting powerful is the motivating effect it has on your organization. If the goals aren’t realistic, that motivation is easily lost. 

Step 4: Who's taking ownership of the goal? 

One of the most common mistakes I see in organizations is that goals aren’t assigned an owner. The result is that an organization might have 20 goals, but nobody feels particularly responsible for any of them. Year after year, those goals might go unrealized. If you really want goals to be achieved, you need someone to put them on the agenda. Without an owner, goals quickly just become another reporting burden.

Step 5: How do we track the goal?

Monitoring is tricky, but essential to reaching goals. In some organizations, I find there is a lot of resistance to monitoring, because they are unsure of the outcomes and afraid to expose ineffectiveness. Other organizations try to measure everything, and they end up spending too much time on reporting without really getting closer to the desired result. A pragmatic approach is best. You can read more about our recommendations for monitoring here.

Step 6: What is our process for adjusting the goal?

In fitness, the gradual adjustment of goals is seen as the best way to get fitter. But in organizations, we see very little of that: goals are rarely adjusted based on new insights or feedback from the work floor. Sometimes, goals are left to gather dust for years on end. I spoke to a strategy coordinator the other day, who told me: “Ah, yeah, the diversity goals. We never achieve them, but they come back every year. I’m supposed to pursue them, but most of them are completely outdated or out of reach halfway through the year.” This is not what you want to do: whenever you set goals, consider how frequently to re-evaluate them!

Want to learn more?

I hope this checklist helps you set better goals for your organization. After all, thinking carefully about your goals makes it more likely that you’ll achieve them.

What type of goals are used in your strategic plan? How is the balance between process goals, output goals or strategic milestones? You can refer to the Rockefeller Habits to learn more about the difference.

Bizaline helps all sorts of companies and organizations to set and achieve their goals. Would you like a free quick scan of your goals, an example Goal Tree from an organization in your industry, or a constructive talk on how your organization can turn it up a notch? Please don’t hesitate to send me an e-mail: antoinette@bizaline.com

Antoinette Wieman

Antoinette Wieman

Managing Partner


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