January is a perfect time for businesses to relish in their achievements, reflect on the disappointments of the prior year, and use the lessons from both sets of experiences to make the New Year, 2014, the best year yet.
The two guidelines that have the potential for improving your chances for success are these: Know exactly what you want and know exactly how you’re doing, always.
Seems simple enough, yet many people in businesses find it challenging to clearly define goals and stick to them once they’re defined.
A clear goal describes what is to be achieved – the outcome – by a specific date as managed by an identified champion. Goal clarity is essential for those responsible for the goal as well as those affected by it. It is worth the time it sometimes takes to wordsmith the precise language to be used when documenting goals.
The use of a scorecard – either a large chart or a software program that can be accessed, updated and reviewed by team members – lets everyone know, at a glance, how the business is doing. Both management and staff have a stronger sense of buy-in when goals and progress toward them are visible for all to see.
The technique of displaying goals and tracking their progress is supported by the concept of “structural tension.” Structural tension suggests that when you keep your eye on the result you want, you are naturally pulled toward it. On the other hand, when you get distracted, by getting sucked into excuses, pointing fingers at others or lack of action, your energy dissipates and it is easy to lose sight of the goal.
Always ask yourself – what do I want, and how am I doing. Keep playing the game and be objective about it. Numbers are just that. Low numbers do not mean that you’re bad, or a poor leader or manager. If the numbers aren’t where you want them to be, take action to bring your results more in line with your desired outcome.
If you’re in sales, there is value in identifying and tracking your sales targets each month. If your business is focused on improving customer satisfaction, productivity, staff morale, or teamwork, make the goals quantifiable. If you don’t quantify your goals, how will you ever know if you’ve achieved them?
We’ve all seen thermometers on the walls of offices, schools or places of worship, which tracked fundraising efforts for a building renovation project or even a blood drive. Even if we haven’t contributed to the effort, each time we passed the wall chart, we most likely checked the thermometer and quietly rooted for the success of the project.
The more the team sees the goals and their progress, the more they will be involved with and assume ownership for the results. So, once your goals are defined, display them so everyone sees the game and can participate on some level. The more people see the plan, the more personal energy they will apply to the achievement of it.
Enjoy playing the results game. Use or develop visual scorecards to track progress and ensure everyone knows how the business is doing.
When done well, these two success guidelines – knowing exactly what you want and knowing exactly how you’re doing, always – can yield immeasurable results.
May your progress in 2014 be beyond your most ambitious expectations!