In our experience, owners and leaders often answer that question with a resounding “YES!”. But when we dig further, we find that the rest of the team may not be as clear about where the company is going or how it plans to get there. That’s a recipe for stagnation, frustration — and even resignations.
Here’s an example. A few months ago, a cooperative reached out to us for support. The leadership team was frustrated because, despite everyone’s hard work, the company wasn’t closing in on its business goals. Like many of the owners and managers we work with, the leaders of this cooperative were asking, “Why aren’t we making progress?”
We work with businesses to identify not just the symptoms of having unclear goals (including the failure to meet said goals) but also the root causes. We use a comprehensive HR assessment to hone-in on those underlying factors. Here’s what every single assessment has revealed:
The goals are not as clear as you think they are.
Sure, you may instinctively or intellectually know your goals, but are they truly defined? To find out, try answering these four questions.
- What are the business goals for the year?
- What does success look like?
- What metrics are you tracking to measure success?
- How often are the metrics reviewed and tracked?
If you struggle to answer any of these questions—and by “answer,” we mean to write it down—then the goals are not clear enough to either you or the business.
The goals are clear to you but not clear to your managers or employees.
As a business owner or leader, you might assume that since you understand what the company goals are, managers and employees do, too. This assumption is wrong.
To find out if your managers and employees really know what the business goals are, ask them! You may be surprised by the answers. In our experience, some managers say, “I think the goals are ….” That’s a clear indication of uncertainty. Others give answers like “grow the business,” “make money,” and “serve our customers” that are so generalized they could apply to any business. Bottom line? If you aren’t getting specific answers about company goals, you’ve got some work to do.
What do business goals have to do with HR?
Are you wondering why, as HR consultants, we emphasize the importance of setting clear business goals? It’s a great question.
Research shows that having clear, and clearly articulated, business objectives boosts employee engagement at all levels and keeps people focused and motivated. It provides a roadmap so people can track the progress they’ve made—both individually and collectively—and see how far they still need to go. Perhaps most important, it enables employees to take specific action so they can drive meaningful, tangible outcomes.
Imagine running a marathon with no clear finish line. Slogging away, mile after mile, with no end in sight would be both tiring and tiresome. That’s precisely how employees feel when business objectives are generalized or vague. When you set and clearly explain your company’s concrete goals, you may be surprised at just how soon the finish line is in your sight.
What do you do now?
Would you like to know if your goals will drive your business success? Shoot us an email and we’d be happy to talk with you about how this looks in your business.