How to make new year’s business goals more successful than new year’s resolutions

Every business has things they need to accomplish in the new year. Usually they relate to revenue, profits, and customer growth. You might also have goals about improved employee performance and satisfaction.  And don’t forget ‘learn something new’ or ‘network to grow your professional contacts’. Goals help us work proactively, make the best use of our resources and take control of situations. They should give you a sense of direction and a way to measure your progress. That’s why your goals need to be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time Bound).

Write ‘em down.

Most companies don’t actually write down their goals for the new year.  But as Lewis Carroll said, “if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” So write your important goals down, and don’t forget the specific, measurable and time bound parts. Then share your goals with people who are important to you, to help you be accountable.

Time bound?

After setting goals for the year, break them down into monthly and even weekly goals. The weekly and monthly goals are used to create a plan of action for the annual goals. If you want to add a given number of customers by the end of the year, how many do you need to add every month? And what do you need to do each week to achieve your monthly objective?

Realistic?

Be sure your goals are not too difficult to achieve. “Mission Impossible”, although it can be an exciting movie, will not motivate you or your employees. If your goals aren’t seen to be achievable, people won’t be willing to invest the time and effort to accomplish them.

But don’t set the bar too low, either. Really easy goals don’t motivate either, and your company will probably suffer when competitors set and achieve more ambitious goals that take customers and business away from you. The bottom line: goals should be challenging but realistic. Think of Goldilocks … not too big, not too small, but just right.

Break down specific actions to be taken by specific people. Involving people in setting their own goals will help to motivate them.

How are you doing this week? This month?

This is the measurable part. Don’t wait until the end of the year to check your results. Put your weekly goals where you can easily see them, and refer to them often. Check your progress monthly. If something isn’t working or you environment changes, adjust.  Consistency is important, but so is flexibility.

Wash, rinse and repeat.

And so is persistence. Check your short-term objectives every week and your monthly goals every month. Celebrate your successes (and your employees’ successes, if you have them). Learn from your mistakes. Keep your eyes on your year-end goals and keep working hard to meet them. Make 2012 your best year ever.

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