Navigating Success: Setting and Achieving Goals for the Year
The new year is the perfect time for small business leaders to set sail toward the company’s North Star — the overarching goal that guides every decision and action. Whether your ship is a small start-up or growing enterprise, having a clear destination in mind is crucial for charting a course to success.
Setting Your Company's Guiding Goal
Every successful venture, big or small, begins with a vision. Your North Star is that guiding light that illuminates the path to success. It’s typically the company’s overall mission, like helping your customers live better lives, or becoming a leader in customer satisfaction. Whatever it may be, this goal serves as the foundation upon which all other objectives are built. It must be clear and understood throughout the organization, keeping everyone on the same page across departments and projects.
Aligning Individual Goals with the Company’s Goal
Like sailors on a ship aligning their compasses with the North Star, employees should align their individual goals with the company’s overarching vision. This not only ensures that everyone is rowing in the same direction; it also fosters a sense of unity and purpose, connecting the dots so that individuals can see how their roles contribute to the organization’s larger goal.
As a leader, one of your essential responsibilities is to bring that North Star down to the individual level. Develop an operational plan, helping your employees set meaningful goals that drive toward that overall company goal. Here are some practical tips for navigating the goal-setting waters:
- Make goals collaborative. Involve your employees in the goal-setting process. Create an open dialogue where team members can share their insights and aspirations.
- Make goals S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (tied to the company goal), and Time-bound. This framework provides a clear and concise structure, making it easier to track progress.
- Document them. Employees should write down their goals with an action plan for each, laying out the steps to get them there with key deliverables and milestone dates. Some companies use project management tools to track goal progress, but it can be as simple as a spreadsheet.
- Schedule regular check-ins and feedback. Goal setting is not a one-time event — it’s an ongoing process. If you don’t do it already, establish weekly team meetings to keep everyone aligned. It’s also a good idea to schedule quarterly one-on-ones to check in with individuals and ensure they’re on pace.
- Acknowledge and celebrate milestones. Recognition is a powerful motivator that reinforces the connection between individual efforts and the company’s overall success.
The goal-setting process can also help you identify top talent and their development opportunities. You may have an employee whose goal is to move into a new area, take on a cross-functional assignment, step into a leadership role, and so on. Understanding and cultivating your top performers can be very impactful in growing your company overall. Take the time to carefully and thoughtfully plan what their work could look like this year to propel them to the next level.
Measuring Success with Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
To ensure that your ship is on the right course, establish KPIs for the company's goals. KPIs provide quantifiable metrics that help track progress and identify areas for improvement. One example could be your company’s average customer service rating. Encourage employees to regularly assess their own performance against these KPIs. This self-reflection not only promotes personal growth but also enhances the overall efficiency of the team.
Sailing puns aside, the practice of goal setting is a win-win for both the company and employees. It creates a focused, motivated, and productive team that understands and cares about the purpose of their work and wants to move the company forward. Here's to a year of setting and achieving meaningful goals!
Originally published in Small Business Monthly's January issue of 2024 by Julie Tuggle-Nguyen, EVP of Human Resources