“Ideas are precious, but they’re relatively easy. It’s the execution that’s everything.”
John Doerr, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
As a business executive, it is critically important to set goals that are both progressive and practical. While drafting your list of goals for your fellow executives and employees, keep in mind that you don’t just want to create a list of things to do, but you want to ensure that the goals you set are S.M.A.R.T. S.M.A.R.T. is a well-known acronym that stands for:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Time-bound
Once you have decided on your S.M.A.R.T goals, there are five other important considerations to make:
1. SET FREQUENT GOALS
A common practice followed by many executives is to establish and communicate high-level goals at the beginning or end of each quarter. However, more regular goals that are set on a monthly or weekly basis and assigned to direct reports can help to ensure top company goals are included in the corporate DNA and project workflow.
2. MAKE VISIBLE GOALS
To reach your goals, you must ensure that the top company goals are visible to all employees at all times and that any changes or updates to the goals are shared quickly. Keep goals and progress transparent across the organization to eliminate siloing and politics, and to help everyone remember where the organization is headed.
3. MEASURE PROGRESS REGULARLY
Checking the progress of goals on a regular basis helps employees, managers, and executives know what is on track and what is at risk. Continuous and comprehensive measurement and analysis of the organization’s performance allows everyone in the company to make adjustments as priorities shift, and then quickly take action.
4. DISTINGUISH BETWEEN LONG-TERM VISION AND SHORT-TERM EXECUTION
A clear connection between the company’s vision (e.g., long-term improvements in customer service and profitability) and the company’s short-term goals (e.g., milestones for product development) can help employees understand how their work fits into the big picture. A vision
is a broad overview of a long journey. It must be broken down into bite-size pieces if it is going to be reached.
5. PROVIDE FOCUS
While many executives create and establish many goals for every quarter, the most efficient practice is to limit quarterly corporate goals to 3-7 key objectives. This not only provides razorblade focus on common targets and clear end-points, but it also helps employees push back on certain projects that won’t deliver the biggest impact.
Setting goals are critically important for efficiency and effectiveness of any organizations. However, setting goals alone is not enough. Executives must ensure company goals are clear, realistic, time-bound, and measurable so everyone is on the same page and helping the team win.
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