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  • Grow sales by $10,000,000!
  • Reduce costs by 10%!
  • Improve Customer Satisfaction by 5 points!
  • Train 10,000 people!

Why is it when goals are shared, they are usually given in these huge, scary, seemingly insurmountable numbers? The first time it happened to me, I was a young manager taking over a branch in a depressed socio-economic area of my city. When I saw the huge numbers, I completely panicked and felt defeated before I even started. Ironically, that was just the opposite effect from what the goal was supposed to have!

Goals are more than just the numbers given to you by management – they are the lifeblood of having a sustainable company. As managers, we must embrace goal setting and devote the appropriate time to plan our execution to achieve our goals. Goal setting is like most things in life – you’ll get out of it what you put into it! Let’s take a look at three tips for better goal setting:

  • Breaking Goals into Manageable Bites
  • Action Steps
  • Tracking

Breaking Goals into Manageable Bites

Do you know how to eat an elephant? One bite at a time! You do the same thing with big goals. Break them down into more manageable bites. An annual goal can be broken down into quarterly, monthly, weekly, even daily targets – use as small an increment as you need. Are you setting goals for a team of five? Break it down to per person per day. Flying solo on the goals? You can break it down by hour, if that is the bite size that best fits your personality.

For me, I have found starting with quarterly helps. If that is still too big or unwieldy to manage for you, as I said you can go to monthly, then weekly then daily if necessary. See how much more manageable $10,000,000 seems when broken down to the daily level.

  • $10,000,000/365 = $27,397.26
  • Now break it down for your team of five.
  • §$27,397.26/5 = $5579.45
  • $5,600 per person per day seems much more doable than $10,000,000, doesn’t it?

Action Steps

Now that you have your goals broken down into more manageable bites, how are you going to achieve them? This is where action steps come in. Action steps make up the meat of your plan. They give you the road map to achieve your goals. Plan your work and work your plan…in order to achieve our goals!

When I received a goal of training 10,000 people, I almost had a heart attack. Then I sat down and thought about what that meant. Next I worked on my action steps to achieve that lofty goal.

In this particular situation, I thought about who, what, when, where and how. These helped me think through the different audiences, the components needed for each audience and the production schedule to make them happen. The result was a training program nominated for a public relations award that year!

Tracking

Goals are great. Results are more important. How do we know the results? Why, tracking, of course. The old adage “you cannot manage what you do not measure” is true! Track progress towards your goals with appropriate frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). Don’t just look at the actual numbers, though. Look at the action steps, too. I frequently found that numbers fell short when the action steps were circumvented. A good plan (action steps) can’t deliver if it isn’t followed.

I’ve found it helps to create a fun visual for tracking purposes. Just looking at numbers can be boring. Once I used a puzzle. Each incremental improvement in the efficiency achieved put a new piece of the puzzle in place. Once the puzzle was complete, our team got a special treat that was revealed by the completed puzzle. It got to the point where my team was asking me every day when I was going to update the puzzle.

While I’ve primarily been focused on goal setting in a work environment, these tips apply across the board. Want to save money for a special trip or a new car? These tips will work. How about losing weight (my perennial favorite)? If you break down your goal, follow your plan, and track your progress - these tips will work for weight loss, too!

At the end of the day, just remember, when faced with a seemingly insurmountable goal, even an elephant can be eaten one bite at a time.

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